A little more than a year ago, I permanently swore off relationships. I was recovering from being dumped, again, and I’d had enough of the pain. I was going to focus on finding fulfillment through work instead. That part of my life, I declared this year, is over.
Only it isn’t, because it turns out I’m still in a relationship, whether I like to admit it or not. It’ll be four years next March. There have been good times and bad times, but we’re still here and we’re still going strong.
Here are nine reasons I know I’m in a relationship with Twitter (and you might be too):
1. I’ve had dinner with Twitter
Most relationships start out with a dinner date. The first time I had dinner with Twitter was in Franschhoek — a small wine farming town near Cape Town — in December 2010. I was the only one having dinner alone, so I turned to Twitter. I tweeted photos of the food and eavesdropped on Twitter’s behalf. Since then I’ve had many dinners, lunches and breakfasts with my digital dining companion.
2. I take Twitter on road trips and holidays
Road trips were always a part of my relationships with men, and now that I usually travel alone, their place has been taken by Twitter. If signal weren’t an issue, Twitter would accompany me on holiday everywhere. I’ve even tweeted from the back of a Land Rover while watching lions on a giraffe kill.
3. When something happens in my life, Twitter is usually the first to know
My dreams and fears, my frustrations and little joys — Twitter gets to hear about pretty much all of it. The people who follow me on Twitter know far more about what’s going on in my life than friends and family members who don’t.
4. I wake up with Twitter and go to bed with it too
It’s often the first thing I check in with in the morning and the last thing I look in on at night. If Twitter could bring me cups of tea and give me back rubs, it would be the perfect other half.
5. I’m hurt when Twitter ignores me
A couple of years back I wrote that Twitter can be the noisiest, most chaotic place in the world, and also the loneliest. There are few things more heartbreaking than tweeting into the void.
6. I miss Twitter when it’s not around
When I can’t tweet or check up on what’s happening because there’s no signal, I really miss Twitter. If I’m in a situation where I can’t type, I’ll compose beautifully crafted tweets in my head, to upload the moment I get the chance.
7. Twitter has encouraged me when I’ve needed it most
When I was afraid to show my art to anyone, I shared it with Twitter and Facebook. The encouragement I got made the difference when I was ready to give up. My first solo exhibition in July was a success largely thanks to Twitter, and I’ve sold several pieces after posting them to my timeline.
8. And yes, discouraged me too. Relationships are never simple
They’re also petty and mean and co-dependent and, as with anything involving people, Twitter isn’t all moonlight and roses. From time to time, I get very depressed when I go through my timeline, and have to suppress the urge to go and live where there isn’t a signal. (Oh hang on, I do that already.)
9. The one thing I don’t do is fight with Twitter
Fighting is apparently an essential part of being in a relationship, but I try not to get drawn into fights, and I block anyone who indulges in ad hominem attacks. You can’t mute or block your other half in real life, which is one of the reasons that real life doesn’t quite measure up to Twitter.
As social animals, most of us feel compelled to connect and share with our fellow human beings. Twitter allows us to do that in real-time with many others, who respond with thoughts and feelings of their own. It’s low risk and low commitment and, as a result, completely addictive. It might sound sad, but I feel less lonely with Twitter in my life.
If you feel the same, don’t worry — thanks to Twitter, we know we’re not alone.