Karl Rove follows me on Twitter. That’s creepy. I joined Twitter a few months ago; so far, it has been a liberating way to transition from political to personal blogging. It’s allowed me to share the less-serious aspects and humorously uncensored moments of my life. But there’s also been a downside: I am now being followed by Karl Rove, and my local sheriff, and God knows how many other political pundits. We need to take Twitter back from the creepy people.
To be honest, I find Rove’s Tweets boring. Sometimes he takes questions; other times he talks about his appearances on cable news and other shows. But he doesn’t say anything substantive.
On the surface, Karl Rove’s Twitter feed intrigues me. Here’s a guy who for years has been perceived as some kind of inaccessible man-behind-the-curtain figure. And now he Tweets numerous times a day. I’ve never met him in person, which only makes our Twitter relationship even weirder. And to be honest, I find Rove’s Tweets boring. Sometimes he takes questions; other times he talks about his appearances on cable news and other shows. But he doesn’t say anything substantive. If I had to guess, I’d say Rove has a “ghost Twitterer” (as in a ghost writer) or an assistant updating his feed for him.
Oddly enough, Rove’s Tweets seem to reveal a softer side to him. Call it savvy marketing, but I find it disingenuous. And it’s a bit weird to think his people—not even Rove himself—are following me. I’d like to think it’s because they find what I’m saying entertaining, but I can’t help thinking they’re just trying to seem connected to young people.
The Twitter creeps gets stranger. My local Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who, as the author of America’s Toughest Sheriff, is notorious in his own right) recently sent me a Tweet about an answer I gave a fellow Twitter follower. He tried to tell me to go easy on them. It’s really scary when the guy who houses his inmates in tents in the summer and whose most visible public-relations success involves pink underwear, boxers, and handcuffs tells you to tone it down. The sheriff also inexplicably Tweeted me to say my mother owes him $10. Say what?
But media-hungry politicians aren’t the only ones creeping me out on Twitter. Certain media outlets seem to want to ruin it for the rest of us, too. I was shocked when Think Progress and The Huffington Post reported on one of my Tweets—and even more shocked when HuffPo made it their front-page story. I replied “Hey HuffPo, I am Twittering in bed in my pajamas, wanna report that too?” It went unanswered, of course.
I refuse to “script” who I am, what I say, and what I do. The only person Tweeting on my account is me. I don’t have an assistant, friend, or spokesperson updating my feed to “represent” me. (Seriously, would an assistant swear so much?) But this made me consider censoring myself. Who knows the next time The Huffington Post will have a slow news day and feel compelled to stick a headline next to a particularly unflattering photo of me? My Tweets are not sound bytes. Of course, I recognize I’m choosing to Tweet, but seriously, can’t journalists find something more important and useful to report?
By contrast, my Dad—another new Twitter user—is making a real effort to use it effectively and not just pander. For one thing, it’s really him Tweeting. How could it not be given his sense of humor and constant shout-outs to Arizona sports teams? (In fairness to him, I’d initially assumed he had an assistant writing for him. But when I flat-out asked him, he was almost offended I’d suggested he wasn’t being as real as I am.) Second, my dad prides himself on making his updates more than just, “Watch me on Fox News tonight at 7.” And he’s always amused by the attitude I show in my updates—like father, like daughter.
In the end, Twitter is still maturing as a means to reach out and communicate with people en masse. But I can’t shake the fact that Karl Rove is following me—it can be creepy. So watch out.
Meghan McCain is originally from Phoenix. She graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She previously wrote for Newsweek magazine and created the Web site mccainblogette.com.