The other Michelle Durands of the world are a lot more interesting to follow. If my new foray into the Twitter-verse has taught me anything, it is that following in near-real time the trials and tribulations of a young woman — maybe a teen even — as she quits her job McDonald’s, enjoys her day drinking, muses poetic about the perfection of country music hunks and contemplates the world beats the heck out of my occasional drivel about politics and pets.
Actually, I don’t even have drivel on my Twitter account @michellemdurand. I have my columns. So I’m late to the Twitter party — sue me. Besides while the other Michelle Durand has mid-day Wednesday cocktails, I have this coveted space twice a week to rant and rave and contemplate the minutiae of life. There’s a reason she has more followers.
Used to be one inevitably Googled his or her name out of some perverse curiosity to see what like-named — if not anywhere near like-minded — people out there in the big, wide world are all about. There is also the hope others aren’t inadvertently confused by the similar monikers. For instance, a quick search of my name turns up French physicians and a Michigan woman who documents her Beanie Baby collection online when not blogging about reality television shows. So not me.
But now there are so many other places to find a doppleganger or bizzaro version of oneself. Eight people bear my name on Facebook although only the one whose page image is a donkey might come anywhere close. Anyone perusing LinkedIn might mistakenly take me for a massage therapist, an optometrist, an “aesthetics and laser specialist, ” a Peruvian teacher or — with one drop of an “l” — a women’s basketball coach. Pile on Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and the chance to stand out or at least be recognized as yourself is even more of a challenge.
All of which brings me back to me and the other Michelle Durands of Twitter.
“I tried to find you on Twitter,” a colleague told me recently, adding that instead he stumbled upon the aforementioned fast food career girl who freely documents every up and down in life. “I think I’ll follow her instead.”
Heck, I’d probably follow her, too.
At the moment I have fewer followers than the applesauce-loving Heaven’s Gate leader of cultists awaiting the Hale-Bopp comet. Yep, it’s that dismal. So the question is what does a lowly Twitter newbie have to do to gain a little cyber momentum without resorting to actually thinking, being funny, retweeting actual news or posting images that were once only accompanied by a fold-out biography touting a love of long walks on the beach and puppies?
The answer is obviously Amanda Bynes. Nobody is anybody anymore until the troubled actress starts a Twitter fight and calls you ugly. Then you’ve made it. C’mon Amanda, bring it!
Another possibility is jumping on the bandwagon for Rusty, the missing red panda that went AWOL from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Accounts both tracking and joking about the missing critter lit up cyberspace yesterday, with only daredevil tightrope walker Nik Wallenda’s Sunday night travels across an Arizona gorge creating any popularity contest.
In 2009, the year when I caved into the desire to maintain squatters rights and actually established an account (albeit untouched), there was less competition in the Michelle Durand world. Most handle combinations from michelledurand to Mdurand had little to say, few to follow and even fewer vying for their attention.
Now, there are handfuls more of Michelles offering gems like “I’m really regretting piercing my third holes,” “I seriously question why I’m not a 500 pound whale” and “Big butts do notttt work with high waisted shorts.” Those extra “t”s really give that tweet a little extra something.
So alas, I think it’s time to resign myself to being just one of the millions of voices out there instead of one in a million voices that stand out. I’m actually perfectly fine with that. Besides, I don’t have time to do any real tweeting. I’m too busy following what happens when the other Michelle sobers up, passes her exams and finds a life after French fries.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com