This is a song inspired by someone I followed on Twitter who stopped existing rather suddenly. Twitter is one of many online social networks, but to me it is in a category by itself. It’s 140-character format and informality allows for a much broader range of possible connections and is really… fluid, I think, is a word for it.
I’ve been on Twitter for over 4 years now, and it’s been quite a while since I have actively sought to follow new people, or to grow my follower count. I generally follow people back that follow me, but I don’t do much following on my own anymore. However, a few months ago, someone I had been following for a long time recommended following their brother, and I did. It’s fun following new people actually, I just tend to forget that. This person then mentioned me in a “Follow Friday” post along with some other people who followed him as a result of his brother’s recommendation. What I generally do if I am mentioned that way, is to check out the other people who are mentioned along with me, and follow them if they seem agreeable. So I did this, and almost immediately forgot that I had. Some of them, or all of them followed me back eventually. “Oh yeah, that’s one of those new people I followed.”
Since Twitter ruined Tweetdeck, my preferred way of reading Twitter, I have switched to HootSuite to do so, and I don’t like the format as much, and as a result I pay a great deal more attention to my fairly small “Follow Friday” list of tweeps than I do to my overall timeline, which includes 1300 accounts. Because of this, I haven’t been doing a very good job of learning what my newer followers are about, and that was the case with this new bunch. One of this new bunch, that went by the handle ArcticPizzas, followed me back and favorited a couple of my tweets. Favoriting a tweet is a kind of quiet interaction that is available on Twitter. I remembered being a little confused by the account when I looked at it. It described itself as “Twitter’s favorite pizza bot”, and there was a picture of a girl from an unusual angle, as if a hamster took the photograph or something.
Further examination revealed that ArcticPizzas was an Australian girl named ‘Alexa’ who was the equivalent of an American high school senior. I am a bit on the old side to be getting chummy with teen girls on the internet, but I thought that since she was paying attention to my tweets that I should make a point to pay attention to her and see who she was, and added her to my Follow Friday list.
This list is not particularly large, and the time I pay the most attention to it is during the week before I go to work in the afternoon. I generally check in around 9:30 in the AM, and keep general track of it throughout the next few hours, which is really easy, because there is not a huge volume of tweets coming from my Follow Friday group. There are people that are at work(US and Canada), and some people who have just gotten off work(in the UK/Europe). ArcticPizzas was up late(in Australia), and tweeting in the morning when I got on.
There has perhaps been no time in my life when teen girls were not akin to space aliens to me, but I’d say at this time, being pretty far removed from my teen years myself, the tweets of this teen girl amongst adults were pretty interesting/confusing( the reason I like twitter so much is the experience of other peoples minds and thoughts, it’s surprisingly vivid). I became quite fond of ArcticPizzas, and enjoyed thinking about her future. She was about to go to college and have what would probably be the most interesting, exciting years of her life, and she had no real idea how cool it was going to be, as she stared at her phone and tweeted about pizza. Thinking about this somehow filled me with these mostly forgotten feelings, like ‘hope’ and ‘optimism’. I was glad that I sort of knew her, and that, in a small twitterish way, I would get glimpses of her exciting, unfolding future.
This all happened in the month of May. In June, I lost track of Twitter a bit, and ArcticPizzas wasn’t staying up late and tweeting during the time I was on. Now, in 3D life, I have an old friend who is very sick, and on the 8th of June I helped him move into a new apartment. He was doing pretty badly that day, and had been looking progressively worse throughout the last couple of months. On the 10th of June, he went into the hospital. He’s been in an out of the hospital a lot in the last year, and I stopped reacting to it at some point, as it was usually nothing(he is understandably suffering from a lot of anxiety, I don’t know how I would react to this thing myself, so I can’t really pass judgement on it). My assessment of this latest trip was that he hadn’t been taking care of his diabetes, and he just needed to eat right and get his blood sugar under control and he’d be fine, relatively speaking. I resolved to get on his ass about his diet when he got out. On the 12th of June, our mutual friend called me late at night to tell me that he wasn’t going to make it. The fact that we knew this was coming did not make the news any easier. So I’m kind of a mess for the rest of the week. In spending the day at the hospital on Sunday, I learn that he is not going to die(soon). So that’s great! This would be the second time mourning his death that he pulled out of it. What a crazy rubberbanding of feelings that is.
The following weekend he is out of the hospital, and I spend my 3rd consecutive weekend doing Mike-related activities. I’d been kind of reeling all throughout the month of June so far, between Mike and two crazy dental appointments and the heat, etc, my ADD addled mind had about all it could handle. It was not until the final weekend of June, and through the Fourth of July that my mind got the quiet and reflection time it needs to assess where I’m at.
On the 6th of July, after spending a couple of low key days with my family, I wake up, have my coffee, and think about ArcticPizzas for the first time in a month, and realize that I haven’t seen her in my timeline for a while. If I notice tweeps have been absent for some time, I’ll sometimes take a peek at their timeline to see if everything is alright. So I typed her handle into search, which actually just brings up tweets that mentioned her, and I read a tweet that says something like “I can’t stop thinking about Alexa(@ArcticPizzas), Rest in Paradise!” WHAT!!!??? Even though, rationally, I know this means she’s dead, what else would it mean, I manage to pretend like this was not true until I could verify it and find out what happened. It was not very easy to do, and I spent about an hour of searching around twitter until I found out what happened. What had happened is that, the same week that Mike went to the hospital and almost died, Alexa was in a serious car accident which put her in a coma. But she woke up the following weekend, and was on twitter! She really enjoyed twitter a lot, it seems. But I missed that. And she shortly after died of a brain hemorrhage. The only thing I could have done was to say some encouraging things to her before she died, and I didn’t, because I wasn’t paying attention.
This song sums up how I felt about this horrible news better than any prose description of it, so I will let it speak for itself. It seems to me to be like the opening song of a musical about someone who becomes obsessed with trying to go back in time to reverse an event.