As of midnight on the last day of November, she had posted 63,064 tweets.
She signed up for Twitter on March 12, 2009.
That’s a span of 1,724 days.
Even if we acknowledge that some folks don’t sleep much — let’s say she gets only 6 hours a night — this University of Akron freshman has averaged more than two tweets every waking hour since the ninth grade.
That’s 37 tweets per day.
That’s 256 tweets per week.
Now, I will admit right up front that I am not a tweeter. I have resisted the siren song because:
A.) I don’t want to tweet something off the cuff and get fired (see: Tony Grossi, Plain Dealer sportswriter who one evening let the world know he considered former Cleveland Browns owner Randy Lerner “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.”).
B.) I am highly accessible by email or phone. Anyone who wants to tell me something already can.
C.) I don’t care what you had for lunch. I don’t care what anybody had for lunch. Why would I want to read about every tiny detail of another person’s daily life?
But maybe there is more to Twitter than meets my eye. If so, I figured, Amy Cullen would be an excellent candidate to fill me in.
The Akron native agreed to talk about her apparent obsession, but she required some persuading, mainly because my own lifetime tweeting total stands at eight — all of them directed at her.
When I tweeted about interviewing her and asked for her email address (so I wouldn’t be limited to the maximum 140 characters per tweet), she was understandably cautious:
“I’d like to know what’s going on before I give my email address to someone whose Twitter picture is an egg.”
The egg icon must have been a default selection when I signed up — just to see what all the commotion was about — in 2011.
When I provided my phone number, she agreed to call after the class she was walking into.
During the first eight minutes of that class, she shot out eight tweets. Most of them were complaints about a grade she had gotten on a speech.
Other thoughts she shared that day with her 198 followers:
“Someone buy me Subway and bake me cupcakes. That’s the only thing that’ll turn my day around.”
“I’m pissed that the two classes I love were cancelled for tomorrow on Monday and the two classes I hate the most are continuing as usual.”
“Shout out to [a classmate] for picking up my assignment in our human cultures class.”
“I appreciate that my gloves have open thumbs so I can text, but they could’ve put a flap over them so when I’m not texting they stay warm.”
So what, exactly, is the magic here?
“First of all,” she replies, “you can really connect with celebrities because they run their own Twitter most of the time. You get their inside thoughts and nothing that’s publicized or goes through somebody else before they can say it.”
Cullen’s fascination with Twitter goes well beyond celebrity connections, though.
“To me, it’s my own personal diary that I kind of share with the world.”
“Those are two opposite things, I know. But if you post on Facebook like that, it’s weird, because it’s all on your page and people are supposed to be able to post there, but your Twitter is your own thing.”
When Cullen started doing her own thing as a freshman at Our Lady of the Elms (she took a year off before enrolling at UA), she was on the cutting edge.
“I was also one of the first of my friends to have a Facebook, and everybody thought it was stupid,” she says. “When I signed up for Twitter, they said, ‘Oh, that’s so stupid; you don’t need that.’ And now it’s the most popular thing in the world.
“I don’t really remember why I got it. I didn’t really use it for months. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I have this thing, I should go check it.’ But it just caught on.”
I should say so. As of Monday afternoon, Amy Cullen’s 198 followers ranked her only 756,174th worldwide.
Some of her posts aren’t quotable in a family newspaper, and the ears of some of her professors must be burning. Doesn’t she worry about the repercussions of all these unfiltered observations?
Sometimes, she replies. But not as much as she would if she hadn’t purposely misspelled her first name on her Twitter account. That way, “nobody can find me unless I want them to.”
Cullen says she has never been reprimanded for tweeting in class because she has a 3.8 grade-point average.
“If you’re a good student, they don’t really care if you’re on your phone because you’re doing the work,” she says. “If people are on their phone and they’re failing the class, I think the professor would say something about it.”
When asked whether her parents tweet, she laughs.
“No. My mom barely knows how to turn on her computer.”
Sometimes I envy her mom.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.