By Joe McAdam
Democracy is a sham, friends. Sure, it sounds fantastic in its simplest terms; here’s an example: four out of five dentists want to order pepperoni. Done. Damn, that was easy! Pepperoni pizza rules! Democracy rules! But what if I told you democracy also… killed your mom? It hasn’t. Yet. But what if those very same dentists voted to… kill your mom? Wow, now it sucks shit to be democratic, right?
I know this sounds like another piece about healthcare and how all our moms are going to be killed by dentists, but I assure it’s about something much more important; the most democratic and widely used platform online: Twitter (citation needed).
I’m a comedian and I quit Twitter this January. Now, instead of tweeting, I physically mail people jokes straight to their homes every month. It is an experiment that very intentionally removed myself from the noise. Twitter was starting to feel like a hot tub at a hotel for me. You’re all excited to dip your sexy body (jokes) in that hot water (twitter), then you get there and the tub is crowded with a couple that looks like they were on an episode of Real Sex in 1994 (bad comics you’re obligated to follow, self promoters, dorks, Nazis, parents). I used to be able to tell a joke without having an audience of literally everyone I’ve ever met plus a small handful of mustard brands (one thing I do miss is earnestly promoting Inglehoffer Mustard, a great brand of mustard).
I’ve been off the Twid (that’s my fun word for Twitter-grid, it will not be used going forward) for 6 months now, and I honestly don’t know what I expected would happen or what I’ve learned. I started this on a bit of a whim. I just did this because I’m getting old. I like it, getting old so far. I sent out Christmas cards for the first time last year. It was fun! It made me feel like my grandma, a feeling every young person chases. Getting stuff in the mail is fun, and sending it is fun too!
Another reason I bailed was because the temptation to be boring and self indulgent was too strong. Most comedians tweets are in fact not jokes but “hot takes” on the issues of the day. Twitter can really feel like millions of people pretending they’re being interviewed, but they are in fact not, and no one cares. And you might be saying to yourself, “Joe, writing an article about quitting Twitter is 100% the most up your own asshole bullshit I’ve ever heard” And you’d be wrong, pal. I’m cool.
I can’t stress this enough: I’m guilty of those self indulgent things.“Comedy is hard” is a mantra I often repeat to help me be more sympathetic to comedy I don’t like. It’s very hard to make people laugh, especially when they know you’re trying to make them laugh. That’s why “make me laugh, funnyman” is a common, everyday phrase we all say at racetracks and pool halls. So I’ve chosen to leave the open mic with a billion person potential audience, and put myself in a tiny room with about 80 people that actually want to hear my jokes. It’s a living!
That actually brings me to another point. It’s not a living. I do this on Patreon and ask for a dollar a month to get the jokes. This pays for envelopes, stamps and printing, and I’ve actually lost money because I bought an embosser and sent someone a 7” record of me reading tweets. But hey, No ads! How nice is it to see “content” (ugh) without seeing ads! Honestly I want to dismantle capitalism, but man that’s a lot of work so I just take myself out of it whenever I can. Also, I like Netflix and when candy companies introduce novelty flavors so I’m a big stupid hypocrite too.
Anyway, I know this started political and kind of ended there too so let’s just address it. The Internet, and specifically Twitter sucks because of our very stupid and mean president. What a bummer, right? I almost don’t want to talk about it because it’s so hacky to even point out what a stupid piece of shit he is. He retweets fucking gamergaters. I don’t deserve this reality, and neither do you (I’m guessing). Winning sucks now. Trump, the New England Patriots, bad cops. This is who wins. Gross, right?
So maybe this experiment is about not wanting to win. Twitter is all about likes and followers and it all feels very much like a boring video game that you play during all your free minutes and hours. It’s addictive, and a new scientific study shows that looking at your phone to refresh a page to see if you got a little heart is weird. This experiment is that instead of trying to win (a thing you can’t do in comedy by the way) I’ve taken myself out of the game. How’s it going? Oh who knows. I’m not sure where it leads, but honestly, who cares. If I had my job in the 70s I’d be writing those “101 Jokes to Read on the Toilet” books. That’s all this is, so I don’t put too much stock in it. And I’ve taken myself out of the world of caring about people’s reactions to those dumb jokes. Nobody calls the author of those joke books and adds a tag. That’s stupid. So in that way, it worked. I feel fine, I guess.
I don’t blame you for staying on Twitter if you do, and I definitely don’t feel superior. Part of me is jealous. You guys got to know about covfefe before me. It came around to me a few hours later but by that time, you’d all had your way with it. Thanks, by the way, I had some hot ones. But I do get to go days on end without thinking about how Rob Schneider thinks we should eat poor people, which I like.
Ultimately, the only thing I really really miss is reading tweets from Larry King and George Wallace, so if someone wants to mail me those I wouldn’t mind.
Joe McAdam is a Los Angeles based comic. Subscribe to his Analog Twitter for $1 a month.