I am still trying to figure out this Twitter thing. Its success is counterintuitive. I can see why it is interesting to follow a conversation, but its 140-character limitation (made necessary by the maximum of 160 characters allowed in cell phone text messages) would seem a fatal liability. Granted, it is nice to be able to push an instant message to the most lame and technology impaired devices, i.e. non-internet accessible cell phones. In time, the text message barrier will be overcome. All cell phones, even the cheap ones, will be Internet accessible. 160-character text messages will become as obsolete as Morse code.
In fact, if you want to follow someone or a conversation, doing it via a cell phone text message is inefficient, even when limited to 140 characters. Most cell phone networks charge per text message. Tweets are nothing if not voluminous. Moreover, tweets are not exactly instant. The closest we have to real real-time electronic conversation is instant messaging. Otherwise you have to wait until your Twitter client decides to poll for new tweets or Twitter can push the tweet to your cell phone. For most of us, if we really want to follow someone in real-time we had best be Internet accessible, and using a desktop application like Tweetdeck.
Granted it is neat to watch comments on trending topics on Twitter, although like anything else the vast majority of these tweets are about as interesting as a chat room conversation. When following a hot topic like the Iranian elections you might learn something in a Twitter topic that you will not find any other way. Yet Twitter, like any other social medium, is on the cusp of being abused. I had a “lady” follow me the other day (I have a number of Twitter accounts) who is your run of the mill sex scammer. If I follow her because she follows me, I am an unwitting accomplice in her spam network. Like the voluminous spam on Craigslist, without rigorous controls that I doubt Twitter can fully put in place, Twitter is likely to turn into 98% spam in no time flat.
While I try to figure out what Twitter means by reading erudite articles like this one, I watch the other Twitterer in my house, in this case my wife, to find out what she is doing with Twitter. Aside from following her host of online friends, she is also following celebrities. Fortunately, her taste in celebrities is rather specialized, people like Eddie Izzard and this guy. So I thought I would follow a celebrity to see what all the fuss is about. I decided to follow Jewel Staite.
Most likely, you are saying, “Who the heck is Jewel Staite?” That’s a good question because she is hardly a well known star, and at best she is a minor movie star. She is more of a television actress than a movie actress, most recently known for her character Dr. Jennifer Keller in Stargate: Atlantis and as Kaylee Frye in the short-lived Fox TV series Firefly where I fell in lust with her. Jewel played the ship’s grease monkey, but she had all the attributes I was looking for in a lust object: cute, apple cheeked, young, attractive, sweet, but with a smoldering sensuality. Although Canadian, she seemed more American than apple pie, the perfect sort of girl to have next door, fall in love with and live with happily ever after.
Kaylee is of course a character, but what of the actual woman Jewel Staite? What would I glean from following Jewel? She may be a minor celebrity but as of this morning, she has 13,927 followers whereas I have eleven people following me. Is Jewel anything like Kaylee, or Dr. Keller? It is hard to say for sure. With 13,927 followers Ms. Staite clearly doesn’t need any stalkers, so what she does reveal about herself is necessarily pretty superficial. Good for her. Some politicians could learn to be more discreet about what they post on Twitter.
Jewel is married which would be a disappointment if I were not twice her age and married myself. Having spent years hanging around Josh Whedon and the Stargate: Atlantis crowd, unsurprisingly many of Jewel’s friends are fellow actors, directors and producers. It sounds like work in Vancouver has been drying up, so she is currently in Los Angeles. From her tweets, I learn intimate details like she currently has a head cold, but stopped by a Borders yesterday anyhow. She has a passion for food (which suggests that she has an excellent personal trainer) and can be found at somewhat obscure LA area restaurants. She is no vegetarian. She also likes the theater and recently saw Michael Winslow in concert. Dark colored toilet seats disturb her. Does she have a germ phobia? Is this too much information?
Watching Jewel through the filter of Twitter is like watching someone through a pane of translucent glass. You sort of know what’s going on but mostly you do not, seeing shadows and hearing muffled voices but missing context. Still, it is clear to me that Jewel and I live in largely different universes. If real life put us together, I am not sure we could hold a conversation that lasted more than a couple of minutes. She likes good tacos, and I know of a few places locally, so we could perhaps do a light lunch or something. Or perhaps she could stop by to see me on her way to Paris. She recently intimated she had booked a hotel room in Paris.
If the translucent glass between Jewel and I were somehow clear glass, perhaps there would be much more of interest to discover. More likely I would become disillusioned. I know intellectually that actresses put their pants on one leg at a time just like me, but somehow I hope there is more there than someone like me, an ordinary human being. From Jewel’s tweets, she appears to be ordinary too. I doubt she would find much of interest about me, but perhaps she is brainy enough to find my blog interesting. It is clear that aside from our age differences we are on vastly different paths through life. We inhabit the same planet, breathe the same air, speak the same language and have inherited many of the same customs but there is not much else from what I can tell from watching her through Twitter.
Which means there is probably not much point in following her, so at some point I will probably unfollow her. I hope in the years ahead she dazzles us with her fine acting ability. It is likely that whatever her age I will find her attractive. If I am to follow a celebrity, perhaps I need a woman closer to my age and whose intellect appears to be more aligned with mine. I hope Madonna tweets.
I do agree with her about dark toilet seats though.