Mr. 5000

Facebook is for friends that are now strangers. Twitter is for strangers that should be
your friends.

-Unknown Tweeter

Try as I may, I don’t think I could manage to mark my 5000th post on Twitter in less than 140 characters. So thank you Twitter for compelling me to break my personal blogging inertia and compose a post looking back at how I ended up at 5000 tweets.

I can still recall how I scoffed at Twitter, how inane it seemed to follow Britney’s breakfast musings or the mangling of the English language in text-ese (Wot r u tlkn bout? S’gr8! FML! LMAO) I vowed that I would rather carry a pager that use Twitter.

(Actually, a big reason I didn’t want to start was because I was sort of afraid I would like it too much. I didn’t need anymore addictions competing with McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish, Criterion edition DVDs, and black tar heroin)

But, @gnarlykitty, you were right and I was wrong. Eventually I caved in, and Twitter quickly became part of my daily routine.

(I confess to following some celebrities in the beginning out of curiosity, but the sheer banality and egotism of some of their posts left me disappointed and I soon shed most of them. Sorry, famous-Thai-singer-who-RT’s-every-single-mention, it is nothing personal.)

I became hooked on the endless trickle of links to interesting articles from the likes of TIME, The Guardian, New York Times, and Rolling Stone, as Twitter helped filled a sort of intellectual void that has existed as a dull background ache ever since I moved to Thailand: it was a real joy was discovering everyday people like me–friends and strangers–free to be themselves, enjoying healthy debates, childhood reminiscences, and crafting awkwardly amusing puns in bite-size portions.

Calling for recommendations and suggestions in the Twitter ether revealed the hidden genius of crowdsourcing, and I got a charge helping others in turn. But my appreciation of the power of this new medium crystallized with the crackdown in Iran, and in living color with our own Bangkok protests earlier this year. Instead of being an observer, I became a part of the action, posting live accounts of what I saw and what was hearing, cross-referencing and adding the voices of other concerned citizen-journalists to my timeline. I took what I was posting very seriously, trying hard to differentiate probable facts from speculation and rumor–even though I would occasionally stray into moments of gallows humor. The silver lining of that dark time was to chance to discover and make acquaintance with so many illuminating people here in Thailand and around the world.

You may have noticed I am a little hesitant to refer to people who do me the honor of adding me on Twitter as “followers.” To me, it just seems like a special word that should be reserved for Jesus, Allah, or the Buddha. (Perhaps Chairman Mao or Jim Jones or Magellan as well.) I’d prefer the term “companions” more, if we didn’t have to worry about the economy of 140 characters, but all things considered, I like “readers” as well.

Now the sting of being unfollowed by someone you think of as a friend is tempered by the fact that if someone doesn’t get or like what you have to say, it is better to part ways, and far, far outweighed by the thrilling shiver to learn people whose work you admire and respect immensely choose to follow you back.

Finally, I want to thank my wife and sons for allowing me to indulge in something that is not (just) an instrument of procrastination but an amazing conduit to a larger world with kindred souls.



4 Responses to “Mr. 5000”

  1. July 26, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Thanks for those 5000 little nuggets of joy, wisdom, info, and so much more!

  2. 3 Kitty
    July 27, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Yay! A mention! xoxo Great post BTW.

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