June 5, 2012

The Amazingly Satisfying Alternative to Twitter. ~ Wendy Aron

Flickr: Jerry Bunkers

In an age when it is an unpardonable sin not to build a social media platform, I refuse to tweet.

I remain a throwback to a simpler time because I have a long history of writing things that I am later sorry for, and I think that Twitter is a magnificent regret factory.

In the past, I have excelled at throwing stones and then running for cover when they are lobbed back in my direction. And although my therapist is constantly reminding me that anger is just a disguise for hurt, I do not think that that is a good excuse for defecating all over people.

So, in an effort to wipe the slate clean, I am using a fascinating literary artifact–the semi- essay– to express the regrets I have amassed so far, including:

The South Side High School Yearbook Debacle in which, stung by not being asked to the prom by Barry R., I wrote nasty things in his copy of the annual rite-of-passage tome (and by the way, he later died of Leukemia before I could apologize to him for it).

The Brandeis University Student Newspaper Fiasco in which I was the campus rag theater critic and gleefully attacked a production of Chekov’s The Three Sisters, to which the chairman of theatre department took exception. I wasn’t reviewing the play, so much as using the paper as a platform to spew accumulated venom and pretend to be the New York magazine theater critic John Simon, who had made nasty cool.

The Newsweek My Turn Column Imbroglio in which I penned an essay published in what was then a major national news outlet condemning the entire Jewish faith basically because I happened to be a bitter, attention-starved 42 year-old Jewish woman without husband or child.

As you might suspect, the reaction to the column was swift and passionate. A few rabbis found my listed number and offered prayers over the phone. Someone from an Orthodox non-profit called to see if I would speak before his group about the issues raised in my piece, but I declined for fear of a tomato pelting. I also received several hate cards and letters in the mail (these were the days when personal business was still conducted via the U.S. Postal Service).

One man wrote a five-page typewritten missive basically saying that he was sorry my family were troglodytes, but that I had no right to make blanket statements about the Jewish people. (I had to look up what the word troglodytes meant.)

Even if the Jewish faith had marginalized me, did that justify a hatchet job on a religion that had served people reasonably well for millions of years? I think not.

The Comic Memoir Ruckus in which I produced an autobiography tracing all of my various and sundry psychological problems back to my family (what a surprise!). In said memoir, I also disrespected several ex-boyfriends, friends, co-workers and bosses who had essentially been decent to me.

By the time the memoir got published five years after I had completed it, I had largely forgotten what I had written. But my close friends reminded me, and based on that information, I refused to let the major target of my ire—my mother—get her mitts on the piece of literature (imagine the poor woman’s embarrassment when she reported to her Mah Jongg game that her daughter was now a published author, only to have to confess that she hadn’t read her book).

I also have a very excitable brother who lives in California who told me that reading the family history from my perspective made him retch. In fact, when I went to visit him, he lashed out at me over apple martinis that I had used my writing as a weapon for stabbing him in the back. My mouth agape, I couldn’t even muster the assertiveness to defend myself because he spoke with the definitive authority of a sibling who is not only a lot older, but also has an M.D.

So, you see, if I were to Tweet, I am sure I would offend whomever else I have not offended as yet because I am essentially a very angry/hurt little person who needs to vent frequently. And although I’ve been advised by more experienced writers that most humorists use anger for fuel and that I should not squander my fuel, I have decided that the world will be a much better place and people will be a lot happier without my tweets in it.

And if I do feel compelled to insult anybody else, I will do it in a literary format that, like this, is much more Baby Boomer friendly.

Wendy Aron has written for publications nationwide, including The New York Times and Newsweek. She is an award winning humorist (Society of Professional Journalists) and comic memoir author. You can see her home improvement humor blog at http://theantijane.com and more of her work at www.wendyaron.com.


Editor: Ryan Pinkard

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