Cory Booker wants me to join #waywire. He keeps trying to entice me by leading me to the site, where I’m told I’ll be able to make my own alternative news feed because the traditional news organizations move in lockstep, serving up the same old hackneyed junk. With #waywire, I’ll be able to see news from all manner of sources–especially YouTube–tailor what I receive to what I want to learn about, and pass it on as I wish.

Wow. It’s nontraditional. It’s outside the box. It’s supported by the likes of Oprah, and Booker himself, one of its pioneers. It’s the ideal news broker, the site claims, for today’s young people.

I wonder: If I join, will #waywire discover that I’m 65 years old? Is there an #alarm for that? Will it send somebody to my house to rip my WiFi out of the wall—or wherever WiFi lurks—and arrest me for #Impersonating a Youth?


I don’t, of course, know Cory Booker, the 43-year-old mayor of Newark, NJ, on a face-to-face basis. I know him through Twitter.

I set up my Twitter account early this year, when I came home from yet another workshop on publicizing one’s book.

Most of these workshops are run by former publishing pros. Some are young; in the present media world, youth does not necessarily protect a publishing pro from waking one day to find he or she is former.

Young former publishing pros become freelance gurus. They love to promote the use of Social Media to market your writing.

I’ve had a FaceBook account for years—well, for Internet Years, which is to real-time much like dog-lifespan-years are to human. Sad to say, it has not yet nudged my book onto the best-seller list.

But Twitter! Marketing for our age! Indispensable! The little marketing guru at the workshop raised his hands, a Priest of Publishing, acne aflame with The Spirit. You must be on Twitter! The ultimate Social Media Tool (Twitter, not the little marketing guru)!

So I set up my account. I am @oneill_susan. Catchy and original. The first tip-off that I’m #Impersonating a Youth.

The second tip-off would be that I had to read the directions.

Twitter is Intuitive for those whom evolution has favored with narrow thumbs fitted to virtual keyboards and the mental dexterity to condense all communication into 140 characters or fewer. To the natural-born Tweeter, A Tale of Two Cities would read: Best/worst times: French revolt. Flawed man saves hero’s head, loses own. Thwack! Mon Dieu. Madam DeFarge: Knitknit. When you add the title, it’s exactly 140 characters.

Those of us who grew up in the age of cryptographs on papyrus speak a different language. Virtual keyboards frustrate our fat, touch-typing fingers, and we cannot tell a story without florid, multisyllabic, mouth-watering adjectives. For us, mastering the Art of Twitter (Twart?) can be a bit tricky.

Luckily, there’s a Twitter 101 on the website. It not only told me what the hell “#” means, it gave me information on sending pictures or quotes or websites in a Tweet, suggested lists of people I might want to “follow,” and included handy tips on getting my own “following.” Re-Tweet, reply, react, it proclaimed. I would begin as an isolated babe in the great Twittering woods, but once I started to re-Tweet other Tweeters’ words of wisdom, and reply and react to their messages, “followers” would flock to my own Twitty postings. Which would, ultimately, give me an audience for my book marketing.

Fair enough.


I checked my Twitter stats today: I “follow” 20 Tweeters. These include other writers, one friend, the Park Slope Food Co-op, and a handful of famous people, including the young Mayor Booker—whose astounding Twitter output makes me wonder when he finds time for mayor-ing, never mind eating and sleeping. I’ve secretly suspected that he is not a mere human since the day he rescued a constituent from a burning building.

He is, I suspect, a Superhero.

Beyond sending out his own Tweets, Booker “follows” 61,000 Twitter-ers. Which supports my theory about his Superhero status: no mere mortal could read messages every day from 1,000 people, never mind 61,000.

And yet… He’s holding a Twitter discussion on how New Jersey should kidnap the Statue of Liberty. He’s offering his cell number to a man complaining that no cops come when thieves try to steal his car. He even told one guy who’d lost money to a city-owned vending machine to stop by the office and he’d reimburse him.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…

If the number of Tweeters I “follow” is un-heroic (there were actually 21, but I “un-followed” President Obama because he kept begging me for money), my “following” is downright pathetic—11. That means 11 people can see what I Tweet. There were 16, until five of my “followers” offered me websites to connect with Hot Young Singles.

Eleven people to market my book to.

I’m just so grateful to have them; how could I bear to spam them with ads?


“Following” even 20 Tweeters means reading a lot of Tweets and pursuing a lot of links and pictures. It means a lot of re-Tweeting, replying and reacting, which generates even more Tweets, links and pictures. It’s incredibly time-consuming.

Which brings me back to #waywire.

How can a normal human being with a Twitter following larger than mine but short of Booker’s—the average wired-in Joe or Josephine who balances Twitter, FaceBook, Insta-gram, a “traditional” virtual news outlet or two, the occasional crawl through YouTube to watch cats play piano, and a Tumblr blog, with a job, a family, a meal or two a day, a face-to-face social life and a couple hours of sleep per night, not to mention time spent publicizing his/her book—find time to engage in a brand-new Social Medium that will supply hours of exciting, non-traditional news-feeds?

Perhaps you need super-powers.

Or maybe you really, truly do need to be young…