When I first joined Twitter I was big into the #FF game. When
tweeting about how awesome the podiatry community was proved
unsuccessful I turned my business account into one that would allow me
to do research for a book I was writing. Since I had no idea what I was
doing I made a lot of mistakes which was great because I learned more
about myself than if I would have had an actual plan in place. I'm a
born networker and naturally inclusive so I came up with the idea of
shouting out fans from each of the thirty MLB teams. It was a lot of
fun, and people seemed to like it, but after a while it became too much.
I didn't want to give it up entirely so I came up with the idea of
trying to interview individual fans. Again, I didn't really know what I
was doing and I was pretty nervous when I asked my first guest if he
would like to appear on my Twitter show. Fortunately he was a class act,
and after getting through my first interview without too many problems I
decided to try a second. Lining up guests wasn't difficult, I asked
friends of mine if they wanted to chat, sent them an email explaining
that the show was about them so if there was a particular topic or event
they wanted to discuss, I was open to suggestions.
After a while I skipped the emails. They weren't helpful since we had
a tendency to get off topic, and sometimes people would forget or not
get back to me which was really annoying. One guy sent me a document
with talking points about a book he had written, unfollowed me on
Twitter and had the balls to ask if we were still on for tomorrow. I
replied that I was very ill which was the truth, and told him I was
taking a sabbatical which also ended up being the case. A friend of mine
had bugged out without giving me a good reason, he apologized later,
but his reason was weak sauce so I wrote him off and didn't invite him
back to make up his time slot.
One of my most successful interviews involved an acquaintance of mine
who admitted to being depressed. We talked about his job that had taken
advantage of him, and it felt to me as if we were participating in a
real interview instead of being on Twitter. I was bawling at the time so
I was glad no one could see that, others were favoriting tweets where
he talked openly about his blog post and what his future held which
didn't seem to be very rosy. I felt bad for him, but the interview was
cathartic for me so I kept tweeting after he signed off to keep a prior
Taking a break was good, but when I saw an interview being conducted
by someone else that didn't give me a better sense of any of the people I
thought to myself, I can do better than that and I'm not a
professional. A sports writer had recently tweeted something about Bud
Selig that had caught my eye, and what I thought was unusual was how he
had responded to a tweet of mine asking if he was going to hang out at
Facebook when he said he would be away from Twitter while the coverage
was scrolling down his timeline. Normally I know people fairly well
before I invite them onto my show, I once interviewed a British film
maker minutes after meeting him, but he was one of a kind.
Today's interview started with my computer freezing before I could
announce my guest. I had a rough night on Wednesday. Thursday I watched
my neighbor's sick kids and my chiropractor told me I was not myself
during that appointment so I felt bad for my guest until a friend of his
tweeted something derogatory at us after I introduced him. Growing up
my parents told me what to do and how to do it. They were authoritarian,
dictatorial, abusive, and great examples of what not to do as far as
parenting goes. I never felt as if I had a voice as a child. When I told
people I was cold or hungry, my parents didn't do anything to validate
those basic physical needs (my brother used to take the same apple to
school each day to save his pride) so I learned that I wasn't important.
When the interview was over a friend of mine that I respect said
something encouraging. I admitted that today hadn't gone well and it was
probably my fault for being rusty and out of sorts along with me not
knowing my guest well, but he said as a former reporter, some interviews
are like that, and you have to keep pushing forward regardless of your
subject's uncooperativeness. He wasn't really uncooperative, but I like
it when I get people to go deeper and come forth with things they
wouldn't normally share on Twitter so perhaps I was harder on myself
than I should have been.
You never really know what other people are thinking and feeling, and
I was able to pull a surprising amount of information that people
hadn't intended to reveal out of my victims, one of whom ended up being
the guy who was an ass to me initially. When he said my show was not
recommended, I knew that he was either a troll, or someone my guest
knew. I get annoyed when people bring attention to the thing they claim
to dislike so I tweeted back at him and pretty soon he was answering
questions along with my guest.
While they were in college these guys ran what was a Kickstarter
campaign before Kickstarter was a thing. That was cool, but the best
part for me is when I asked what they would say to themselves as college
students if they could go back to those people and speak to them. Guest
one said he should learn not to fear change, and that he was better at
coping with it than he thought he was. The second said that he would
liked to have stopped pretending he was still in school when he wasn't.
As an interviewer I like to keep the attention away from myself, but
while I was tweeting I had tears running down my face as I remembered
the scared teenager who had worked multiple jobs just to try and pay for
I said that I wished that girl had loved herself more and that the
grades and money didn't matter. During college my grades were enough to
help me graduate with honors, although it didn't end up being useful in
terms of financial success. I landed a shit job with worse pay and
again, I worked myself into the ground trying to prove to everyone that I
could handle the responsibilities of an entry level position at a
prestigious firm that taught me that men wore sober suits and
monogrammed shirts while women had flowers on their desks and spoke
nicely to difficult clients.
What I didn't realize at the time was that people need a safe place
to tell their story and that's what I'm trying to provide by doing these
interviews. Maybe I shouldn't have gone after someone I didn't know
well, but I thought he was interesting, I find people to be fascinating
despite what they say about themselves, and I never did get to what was
behind the Bud Selig tweet, and now I don't really think I want to know.
People need their secrets. Interviewing people is fun, it can be a
tremendous amount of work, but the experiences you get to hear about are
good for the soul.
#MLBFF has shown me how powerful simple questions can be. I have new
respect for those who have to interview others for a living. For me it's
fun and it's my show so if someone is a jerk or things aren't going
well I have no one but myself to blame. Conversely, I get the credit
when things run smoothly and people share in something that is larger
than each of us as individuals. Safety and story telling are important
to me, and thanks to my guests and Twitter, I have a chance to extend
that platform to anyone, not just the fabulously wealthy, the freakishly
talented, or the divinely beautiful.
My therapist wanted me to write about why I think the way that I do.
For a while I wasn't sure if I knew why, but now I can see that I'm
trying to create for others what I never had and dearly longed for as a
child. I had a story, needs, wants, fantasies, to share with others, but
I didn't have a safe place or interested people to listen to what I had
to say so this is my way of saying, hey, I think you're a neat person,
and perhaps you haven't had a chance to do something like this before.
Whatever you say is okay, and if you don't want to go real deep, that's
okay too. So far I haven't had a bad interview yet, and something tells
me I won't.
#MLBFF is open to anyone and everyone so if you or anyone else you
know would like to be interviewed by yours truly, let me know. You can
reach me @JessicaFastball on Twitter, and I have a place on my calendar
waiting for those adventuresome souls who have a story and have been
searching for a place to share it with others. Until then, I pray that
you and yours are well.