Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our Twitter addictions

Welcome back from Labor Day, our loyal readers! Hope your respective holidays went well. Here’s the latest question posed to The Panel:

How did you get started on Twitter?

Their answers, this time in the order in which they were received:

Jen: On April 3rd of this year my home was burgled of just about everything. My birthday was April 4th and it made a terrible birthday gift. I work full time and am enrolled as a full time student. I was on Fluoxotine for depression and anxiety at the time of the burglary. After a week or so of increasing anxiety from the incident, my doctor thought we should increase my dosage of the Fluoxotine. That week I also decided to get texting on my phone. Something I had never had before. It was for school, primarily, and I had no real interest in it for anything else.

During the following week after my dosage increase, I started a pattern of behavior that was a little alarming but I was not cognizant of the causes. Manic behavior had set in and in there somewhere I decided to look at Twitter. I was already on Facebook, but I wasn’t terribly active as far as status updates went. And all I had really heard about Twitter was it was like Facebook’s status updates, but with 140 characters. In the very beginning I had no idea what I was doing, I had no personal friends on the network to help me along in getting it down. So I started slowly and with mistakes along the way. At the same time a little bit of a political and religious fervor had been kindled in me, thanks to the manic state I was in. I had questions, lots and lots of questions. And I thank the heavens I met up with some of the people I did.

As per the usual for me and anything I do, I went from zero to a zillion in one week. I had one focus and it was Twitter. I figured out the “follow” thing, the posting thing the kinds of questions to ask and I stayed away from the emo stuff, even though that’s where I was. I tried to follow a variety of people, convinced some personal friends and family to start and there I was. About two weeks into it and I was rolling. About this time I figured out that my medicine was making me a crazy person and I talked to my doctor and we agreed that I needed to do something different. The unfortunate thing was I could not just stop taking the meds. I had to wean myself off. That was going to take two weeks, yikes.

So at this point in the story it’s been a month, I have changed my medicine and all, but I am still hooked on Twitter. I have developed a sense of community, I like the people I follow and enjoy the humor, wisdom and insight I get from it. I may not be manic anymore, but I don’t want to stop Twittering. So I continue along, a little less intense, a little less full of questions and anxiety. I can read and take it in, process in what I like and cycle out what I don’t need. People say that you cannot form a bond with this kind of networking, that in the end it’s all bullshit. I don’t agree. Of the people I follow, I know only a handful personally and I interact with them on Twitter almost never. But if I talk to someone there on an almost daily basis, even about the mundane, I have a connection to that person and if I get a sense of that person and how they might really be in life, I would do for them what I would do for a friend in the flesh.

I have now been twittering for all of 4-ish months and I am a little more casual with it and my contributions a little less deep and insightful. I never wanted to post unless it seemed brilliant. Now my followers get who I am and if I have lost a few people along the way, well, so be it. I am still in school for the next 2 months and it’s going to be even harder for me to be online and hooked up, but I look forward to continuing my relationship with Twitter and the bonds, even the slight ones, which I have formed. I live by the thought that if you have impacted my life in some way, it’s for a reason and I think twitter is in my life for a reason.

• Houston: It all began with me in the airport for a ride back to Dallas from Cleveland. I was coming back from a visit to see my cousin Earl’s new boobs he had just bought and like most guys who are waiting on a plane, I got to the airport and decided to get a bite to eat. I chose some fly-by-night restaurant which specialized in mongo burritos. Now, for most folks this means nothing, but for a man without a gall bladder every meal is rolling the dice on your colon’s reaction. Sometime you win, sometimes you crap your pants.

The plane began boarding and as I popped into my seat I felt the first gurgle of unease. I felt the next gurgle and realized I was in trouble. I was moments away from the first gut clenching cramps that would have me soiling myself in agony.

I hopped up from my seat and accidently fired off a bit of a squeaker in the face of the guy in 18-C (Sorry dude) as I charged to the closest lavatory. Gasping for breath and with eyes watering the flight attendant tried to tell me something about FAA regulations but I charged through the door and slammed the door in her face. With practiced ease I contorted my body into the un-natural shape needed for aircraft crappers and took my seat upon the throne.

The first staccato blasts of the hellish frenzy racked my body and as my eyes watered I saw black spots dance before my eyes. The pain and relief were interrupted by the flight attendant beating on the lavatory door and telling me I “Could not use the restroom while the aircraft was on the ground.”

I felt it necessary to point out to the attendant the fact I most assuredly HAD used the restroom and the raging storm which was my bowels would not be denied. She then shared the vital piece of information that the lavatory did not function while the engines were not running.

I quickly became aware of the fact the amazing blue water did not empty (until it crested and deposited the overflow into my slacks). The attendant was alerted to the problem either by the screams of the fat guy in the toilet or the flood of blue water freely flowing under the door. I was trapped in the blue hell of an airline toilet with my slacks around my ankle screaming like a little girl on a rollercoaster.

By the time maintenance was able to crack the door to get me out, I looked like one of the “Blue Man Group” and was briskly escorted from the plane by US Marshalls. I was then added to the do not fly list with Usama Bin Ladin, Al-Sawahiri, and Cat Stevens.

Besides being banned for life from Cleveland, I suffered severe emotional scars which I hope to heal through the love and forgiveness I find through internet anonymity.

Twitter is my escape to once again seek normalcy. Because on Twitter, no one can smell your screams.

• Mollie Katie: I actually got started on Twitter last spring when I was at school. I was bullied into it by my friends Stephanie and Kim, because they were always texting me for dinner plans and the like. I didn't have a texting plan at the time (I just recently got one, it's all so very exciting for a Luddite like me) so Twitter was a free option. I got hooked in with the "Red Eye" crowd...and as my friends grew disillusioned and cut back, I developed a Twitter addiction. Which is  how I met all of the wonderful people on The Panel. Not very exciting, but a true story.

• Michelle: Short, simple, and sweet. I heard Andy Levy and Bill Schulz mentioning it on Red Eye and I was bored, so I set it up. Didn't do much with it, until the next time I got exceptionally bored with all my other social networking sites. I think I need a life. And that's that.

• Kristin: How did I get started on Twitter? I have a 'two birds, one stone' kind of answer. Sort of. I think I actually signed up for Twitter in 2008 via SMS for a school thing and had no idea what it was, just knew that I kept receiving really weird almost annoying text messages on my phone. I canceled that right away. It wasn't until January 2009 when I was watching TV's Andy Levy do the Red Eye Halftime Report that I noticed the "follow Andy around on Twitter" advertisement and the very next day (while at work no less) I found myself doing exactly that.

The two of my 'two birds' answer is of course, for those of you who know me, is always wrapped up in my PJ volunteering and being my 'research-y' self. Looking for the asshats that are creeping up on Twitter in the same fashion that they creep up on MySpace and Facebook. It was a slow start, but we've made a lot of progress. I would go into more detail on the subject, but privacy concerns and my own safety kind of trump my eagerness to share that part of my life with the world.

So, there you have it. My 'kill two birds with one stone' answer for why I joined Twitter. I will admit that I never expected to like it, to become as addicted to it as I am or to have made the friends and connections that I have made with people since joining Twitter. It took forever to convince my friends to join so that I would have someone to tweet with. but once they did, they too became addicts. My Twitter friends are a diverse bunch, some overlapping if you were to put them in groups--which never ceases to amaze me and all brought together by one website that still does not consider itself a social networking site.

• Justin: I got started on Twitter two years ago. I’d heard about it, but had never had real exposure to “tweeting” before @isfullofcrap took me to an Astros game for my birthday and he tweeted throughout the game. It was an ugly affair in which the Cardinals kicked our ass, so his tweets were the most interesting thing going on. I toyed with the idea for a while, but eventually decided to sign up.

[Just a friendly reminder, if you want to follow any, or all, of our writers, links to our Twitter accounts are on the right with our profiles.]


  1. "I live by the thought that if you have impacted my life in some way, it’s for a reason and I think twitter is in my life for a reason." I feel exactly the same way! Knowing how difficult the past few months have been i'm really impressed that you still manage to do so much, you can pat yourself on the back :) i've been lucky in love and friendship but my early years brought me depression and anxiety too and i can't imagine coping as well as you have. Now that i'm over it though i'm much stronger than i was before, i hope it is/will be the same for you.

    For me, as for Michelle, it was Red Eye that got me started on twitter, there aren't any shows in the UK that offer conservative commentary and humor and i don't know anyone here who watches it either.

    glad i did, great posts guys. take care.

  2. I got started because of Red Eye. From there I started following others including those that did not watch RE. Mostly I'm the 'fly on the wall', reading what others are doing in their lives. The Panel has made me laugh and cry. But mostly made me realize that I am NORMAL and that is a very good thing! Thank you