It all started with a follow. Usually following someone is the activity of a stalker, rather than the prelude to an attraction. But then along came Twitter and following become a bit more like flirting and a little less like stalking.
In less than 140 characters I was besotted. I’ve had Twitter crushes before. The person who starts tweeting you, or follows you out of nowhere. Or doesn’t even interact but tweets a link to a piece you wrote showing up on the saved search column.
But this time was the worst yet.
You check her Twitter bio, who else follows her, who she follows, whether you might have friends in common – much harder to detect than through Facebook – look at what she’s tweeted about. And you look at her photo. That thumbnail shot you find yourself squinting at to try and examine in more detail.
And then you hit follow.
The next day they reply to a tweet. Which may or may not have been because you tweeted about something you thought they might be interested in.
You reply to them, they reply to you, you chat, and you wonder: Could this be?
But what next? Could anything ever come from such a Twitter crush? Could the virtual lead to the physical?
You examine whether they’re behaving the same way with other people, and see that they tweet a lot of people quite a lot. You – I should really stop blaming you – I– try and work out if they’re flirting or just being friendly. Would she be like this in person? Would she be as likely to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger if you’re sat sharing a table in a crowded Starbucks? Would I?
As fleetingly as the Twitter flirting began it fades. You realise they live in Australia and you’re not visiting any time soon. You search beyond the avatar and aren’t so sure you like what you find. They say something you disagree with – how dare anyone disagree with me?! For all I know she could actually be a 70-year-old guy living in Grantham.
I tell someone of my crush. I don’t think they understand. They tell me to do something about it and arrange to meet up. But that’s not the point of a Twitter crush.
A Twitter crush is kept at a distance, disconnected from the rest of my life. It doesn’t have to interfere with reality, affect my friendships. I can keep the perfect parts in view and ignore what I don’t like. It doesn’t have to change me. A Twitter crush is a luxury. I get to enjoy the idea of something, a bit like any crush, without the responsibilities of a real relationship.
Except it is reality, it may be disconnected from other parts of my life. It might not be part of my work life, church life, home life, family life, but it isn’t any less real because I pretend there’s a concrete wall behind which I can put things that do not affect anything else. Because the wall does not exist.
I suppose I could unfollow her, block her, exorcise her from my life.
Dear threads readers, don’t go and suggest the obvious: that we should meet up. Because that would defeat the point of a Twitter crush. Reality would invade and displace the surreal. Or maybe that’s just what is needed.