An Open Letter to Joyce Carol Oates: Delete Your Twitter Account

Here is the problem with your Twitter feed, Joyce Carol Oates: It is, as we like to say on the internet, the worst. You fundamentally misunderstand the medium. Your continued presence there does nothing but undermine your own authority and annoy other people. You should delete your Twitter account.

You might think that I offer this bit of public advice because I dislike you and/or your work. That is not true! I am very fond of several of your novels. I am especially into that famous short story of yours entitled, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" I like the way your sentences are long and languid, and I like the way they sometimes double back on themselves. I like that the thoughts in them have not been truncated to meet some kind of arbitrarily-imposed standard about length.

I believe that you are smart enough to see what I am getting at, Joyce Carol Oates. Expertise in one form of writing does not necessarily mean mastery of them all. When it comes to writing long books, formulated in multiple pages and paragraphs, every sentence read in context with the one preceding it, you are pretty good at that, better than most of us can ever hope to be. But when you offer disconnected, abbreviated, context-free thoughts, say like the above beliefs about cat food and China, you are not so good.

You come across, above, as racist. This is not the first time, either, that your tweets have been susceptible to this valid criticism! Remember those halcyon days of last summer, when you could not quit tweeting about how much you hated Muslims?

That is just one instance of a few I could cite. I do not think I need to spend too much time going deep on these tweets to show people that your habit of treating your Twitter feed as a means of publicly working out half-baked thoughts makes you look terribly foolish. Even: stupid.

I feel certain, Joyce Carol Oates, that at this moment, should you actually be reading this (doubtful), that the phrase "First Amendment" is rising up in your throat. You are fond of the First Amendment! (Who isn't.) But you seem to view it primarily as a club with which you can cast aspersions on the good faith of your Twitter critics. See, e.g.,

I might explain that people who point out that your Twitter feed is the worst are not invoking the power of the State to make you stop using it, and as such there is no real First Amendment issue.

But instead I will point out that in fact, by using Twitter, it is you, and not your critics, who are deliberately presenting your thoughts out of context. If people react badly to a "thought" that you present as "'Cat food' in China actually is," they are reacting to it because you have offered it without context, without any qualifying paragraphs preceding it. There is nothing, in short, to differentiate your having written this on Twitter from someone spray-painting this on the window of a Chinese restaurant. You look like a fool, and you have no one to blame but yourself. And you do it over, and over, and over again.

If you could come around to see sense on this, the citizens of the free nation of Twitteristan would thank you. It would liberate them to pick up your novels again without the slightly queasy feeling that they now know something about you only a dirt-digging biographer should have revealed, after your death.

Stop spoiling his scoops. And simply get off of Twitter. Permanently.