Next weekend marks my three-year anniversary on Twitter. I know this because one of the third-party apps I use for tweeting lists the date on my profile. It's not like I have a calendar alert set to remind me of my Twitiversary... but I probably should. After all, my relationship with Twitter is on track to becoming one of my longest-running and most-successful ones. As a matter of fact, over 13,000 tweets later, Twitter and I are living happily ever after.
I tweet a lot throughout the course of a day. Maybe sometimes a little too much, but that's another subject matter in and by itself. Our relationship started out innocently enough. I was looking for a way to promote my blog, the now defunct Naked in New York City. I signed up for Twitter; however, the option of utilizing my own name as a Twitter handle wasn't available. I settled on the username @justin_jboogie. I thought it would be a fun way to reference my time as a dancer (J-Boogie was a nickname I used during those days). Even though I was also using Facebook to promote my blog, Twitter was the perfect social media forum for getting my entries to the public. I quickly gained followers and saw a huge increase in website traffic on Naked in New York City. That gave me the confidence to go ahead and write my first book, and unless you are not following me on Twitter or have never read any of my previous entries, you know that that book is Inside the Vortex.
As I navigated the waters of shameless self-promotion on social media, the one thing I began to worry about was the possibility of my username preventing people from taking me seriously as I transitioned from blogger to author. My usage of J-Boogie was a cute tongue-in-cheek reference to the old days. Although I'll always be J-Boogie on some level, I didn't feel the need to lead with that aspect of my persona anymore. I also know the value and importance of branding, so I settled on a variation of my own name, @justhernandez71, and continued to promote Inside the Vortex, as well as my blog that now exists under justinhernandez.net. All was well in Twitterverse, and then the moment every tweeter dreams about happened: my account was verified. My marriage to Twitter was sealed with the delivery of that blue checkmark on my profile. I was also finally able to use my full name as a handle.
The more time I spend on Twitter, the more I realize what an effective communication tool it is. With 140 characters at my disposal, I have to choose my words carefully. Does that mean I'm always brilliant and insightful? Absolutely not. Sometimes I'm quite corny, and then there are those rare occasions where I make a damn fool out of myself. Yes, even a prolific tweeter like me has committed a few blunders. For instance, there was that one time when a friend tweeted Rosie O'Donnell to ask if she was happy about the departure of Elisabeth Hasselbeck from The View. Since I saw it in my timeline, I thought it would be funny to respond to him (and him only) that Rosie was probably celebrating by "eating her boo's snatch." Clearly, I was spelling classy with a "K" that evening. Well, imagine my surprise when Rosie tweeted me seconds later with the simple response of "no." Evidently, she had clicked on my friend's tweet and saw my response even though I didn't mention her username. I then received several tweets over the next twelve hours informing me that I was crude and tacky.
That's when I realized the true power of Twitter. I always knew that tweets sent from public profiles are searchable. However, I failed to comprehend just how far a tweet can travel. All it takes is one person to favorite, retweet or reply back, and that gets the ball rolling. This visibility brings opinions, both positive and negative, from people who don't think twice about expressing them. Twitter is an amazing resource, but it is also the final frontier with regards to the removal of any filter we as a society might have had at one point in time. People aren't afraid to tweet Miley to call her trashy, @reply Gaga to tell her that Artpop will probably be an art flop, or even suggest that Rosie might be engaging in oral sex as a celebratory act. After the dust settled, I felt bad about that tweet and sent a message to Rosie O'Donnell through her website. She never responded, but hopefully she accepted my apology.
There's a saying that if you have nothing nice to say then you should say nothing at all. Well, things have changed. We now live in an era where if you have nothing nice to say then you should just post it on social media. I learned my lesson after that Rosie O'Donnell debacle, but that doesn't mean I tweet like some pious priest nowadays. I still have my opinions. I just try to exercise a little more tact when I express them. Sometimes I'm successful at this; other times, not so much. I may or may not tweet jokes at the expense of the Kardashians. I also can't help but poke fun at a few of US Magazine's ridiculous headlines. Clearly, I enjoy humor and shade, so the best philosophy I can subscribe to is that it's not what you tweet, but how you tweet it.
So, happy anniversary Twitter! Thanks for three great years. For those of you who want to join in on the fun, feel free to give me a follow: @HernandezJustin. Sometimes I'm brilliant and insightful, sometimes I'm quite corny, and then there are those rare occasions where I make a damn fool out of myself. Whichever way, I promise you'll be thoroughly entertained.
This piece first appeared on justinhernandez.net.