Social media ninja. Certified foodie. Dancer like no one’s watching.
Thus speak the unspeakably certified microblogger-ninjas of the website that resembles a bird with no eyes. Possessors of a feudal Japanese cunning, assassinating pantsuits, popstars, and cans of soup. Katanas blazing, lying half-naked under imported cotton, in bed, petting a thousand tiny lights. Everyone is watching. And everyone is watching everyone watching.
Also, I don’t have a Twitter bio.
Oh, I’ve come close, and Jack Dorsey has swung his legs over my shoulders and ridden me like a pony, but I’ve refused. Twitter has called me about it, on my rotary phone: “YOUR BIO IS BLANK, HAVE YOU GONE MAD, HOW WILL YOU NETWORK WITH OTHER HOMINIDS IN THIS BAD ECONOMY AND IS THIS YOUR WAY OF COMMITTING SOCIAL SEPPUKU.” I hung up, and still have not written a Twitter bio.
And it’s not just Twitter. The rest of my bio boxes are blank, too. Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr: baby blue, blue, blue. I have limited my virtual self until I exist in nothing but vague shades of blue, shades that tell you: He has no identity, but do not fear. He is safe, like the ocean and the sky are safe. Ignore him like you ignore them.
Which is why I will not tell you anything about myself in this essay, aside from the fact that I want to murder bios and hide the pieces in my fridge until the cops knock on my door, and I open the door with a peacock feather sticking out of my hat, saying in a delicious voice that I have not killed anything and everything is very normal, just the most normal and nothing brutally murdered at all.
This is not a felony, thank God. And maybe you share the dream. Maybe you mourn a few fragments of your four-dimensional self every time you have to write a cardboard paragraph in third person. Maybe you never go to dinner parties for fear that, when you explain who you are or what you do, strangers will plunk you into a cell within a subconscious Excel spreadsheet* and leave you there until the end of your time on this green Earth.
You wouldn’t be alone. The first Twitter bio was written by God. The Genesis hook, which won Him faves and followers aplenty. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Lord, what a humblebrag.
But do we really know Him? I mean really. Nope, not at all. He’s told us nothing but His day job.
From there, Augustine stripped down to his (metaphorical) Fruit of the Looms to give us his Confessions. He steals fruit. Pears. Huge loads of them. For there is an attractiveness in beautiful bodies. Oh, Auggie. Pear snitch. Celestial junkie. ~Confess like no one’s watching (SIKE THE LORD IS WATCHING).~
And then, one fine day: Jack Dorsey hears a bluebird outside his window. Sings to it, in code. Gives us the power to distill ourselves down to 160 characters, or 140 for a tweet. And we do. We become certified, unabashed, extreme, avid, subtle fanatics, sucking in our stomachs to fit inside white rectangles.
Do we know ourselves well enough to do this? Do we know what makes us move? What makes us sing, take deeper breaths, smile at nothing on the walk home from work? What about the way we flick our hands over our laptops to swipe away a stray hair, or how a shock of nostalgia runs through our limbic systems every time we smell linens kissed by our mother’s Alpine Breeze? The way, whenever we emerge from the subway, it’s like some part of us is just being born? And how about the moments when we’re holding our phones – feeling the electric ounces in our palms — and wondering, almost imperceptibly: Is anyone holding ME like this?
The more we define ourselves in 160-character bursts, the more we do it in our own minds, and in the real dung-and-dirt world. We’re sacrificing vital self-doubt for glib certainty. Soon we’ll be bestowing our children with Twitter bios in utero. By 2250, our great-great-great-great grandchildren will take their grandparents’ Twitter bios, like heirloom china, and their inner and outer lives will be compressed from age zero.
Jack Dorsey and Jeff Weiner can ride me all they want. I mean, I can feel it. They are coming. They are coming for me in my sleep and I don’t know what to do, except to say: I do not know myself. Not at all. All I know is my life is in my hands, a tiny bladder of liquid glass, changing colors like a moon jelly to the rhythm of my soul. And I just can’t contain it! Not in 160 characters, I can’t, nor in a hundred thousand. I’m not feudal warrior. I do not own a katana, and there are no certificates in my bedroom.
I’ll try to keep it that way.
*It’s hard to stop people from locking you in cells within their subconscious Excel spreadsheets. No matter how messy people’s actual Excel files are, their mental ones are always clean.