How I use Twitter (plus Hinduism and Judaism explained)
If you follow me, you may notice that I use a multiplicity of Twitter accounts. Let me explain why I do this.
In the beginning...
It all started with the fact that I'm in a band (@reddingbrothers). But I'm also an individual (@micahtredding), and have my own interests and obsessions. While, in general, I'm mostly interested in talking about band stuff, dealing with culture and adventure and general-purpose obsessions, there are some things that I talk more deeply about, such as the intricacies of technology or theology or philosophy that seems a little weighty for a three-person rock band. So I have a personality split.
But there's more. Recently I launched a site called Eminent Human. And after flooding my normally music related feed with human-related posts, it occurred to me that maybe Eminent deserved its own account. So I resurrected an account from an old project (The Resolution), and set about refactoring it as the official feed account for my new site (@eminenthuman).
...and then the blasphemy...
This reminds me of a thought I've had about Judaism in contrast with Hinduism. If you read the bible, it seems like the Jews caught hold of a particular idea, the idea of ONE, and that idea slowly took over their collective imagination. First, they thought that Yahweh was their own special god, among other gods. Then, they decided that he was greater than all the other gods. Then, they decided that the other gods were his angels and servants. Then, they decided that Yahweh was the only god, and it was only him versus some rebel spiritual beings. And then, they decided that Yahweh was ALL, and there was nothing outside of him.
Hinduism, on the other hand, caught the idea of MANY - the idea that all things are composed of many parts. And so, starting with one god, they began to see different aspects of him manifest as different beings. And each of those beings had both male and female characteristics, which gradually became distinct beings, and each expression of these manifestations had symbols they carried with them, like lanterns or hoops or animals, to symbolize some of their powers - and those powers themselves ultimately became separate and unique creatures.
From many, the Jews arrived at one. From one, the Hindus arrived at many.
When it comes to Twitter, I'm definitely Hindu.
Pangea begins to crack...
Right now, I'm balancing between my three main accounts, one foot in each, watching them slowly diverge. My @eminenthuman account is beginning to follow more and more writers who focus on the optimism of humanity, and because of that, I'm retweeting and responding to more and more of those posts there. My @reddingbrothers account is beginning to focus more on band experiences, small adventures, and pop cultural commentary. And my @micahtredding account is becoming more true to my real self, confused and torn between different obsessions.
But that isn't all of my accounts. I have some other political and technological and philosophical ideas that I relegate to their own places, and I keep those separate and anonymous. Not because I'm ashamed of what I think, but to keep the cognitive dissonance for my various followers to a minimum. I am large, I contain multitudes.
Some people would say I should just have one account, and tweet a variety of types of stuff. Generally, I would agree. It's good to let people in on your multi-sidedness, show them the whole person. However, there are two reasons why diverging accounts has been good for me.
1) It has trained me to be more open.
Because of the environment I was raised in, I'm often afraid to post random thoughts online. I worry that others will misconstrue them, or be offended, or just plain be annoyed. I have political and religious thoughts that could offend both ends of the spectrum (as if politics and religion are spectrums), and musing out loud has gotten me into trouble before.
But by separating my accounts, I've been able to experiment more freely with what I share, and what I censor. I've posted things to @micahtredding that I wouldn't have ever posted if I was just running @reddingbrothers. I've posted things to @eminenthuman that I never would have posted to either of my other accounts. And my anonymous accounts, well, I've posted A LOT of things there that I would never post anywhere else.
But that openness bleeds back into everything else. Once I've shared something freely in one dimension, it becomes much easier to share it in others as well. And so I've grown much faster as a writer and thinker than I would have otherwise.
2) It has allowed me to express things fully.
Althought initially, Eminent Human was just a side project of The Redding Brothers, it has grown to become its own entity. And while The Redding Brothers definitely would have posted many of the things Eminent does, there is no way that we would have put quite so much of it out there. It's the difference between our personality including an interest in human excellence, and developing an entire theory of human excellence.
It's the same for my other projects. I have several anonymous accounts devoted to exploring different subjects fairly in-depth. While a few of those might be of interest to the followers of my main account, most of them have very specific types of audiences, very different from the general population.
In the end
As it stands today, I am beginning to see these various accounts as different dimensions of my personality, stretching out perpendicular to each other. I'm developing friendships in all different directions that I never would have begun if I had tried to constrain myself to one layer.
This isn't what I would recommend for everyone. Most people are probably interested in tweeting about one subject, and some elements of their personal life. If that feels good, you should definitely stay that way. But if you begin to feel fractured and constrained, trying to keep everything in one place, know that it's not bad to expand.
You are large, you contain multitudes. Let them roam.