Meet your heroes (if they tweet)

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The more time I spend with Twitter, the more I realize it has the potential to be single greatest achievement of the Internet to date. No, dude – I’m totally serious.

Beyond the more amazing achievements of Twitter – broadcasting the struggles of people in oppressed parts of the world, for example – it every single day brings people closer together. And not in that Facebook “we were friends in high school and now we can occasionally check out pictures of one another’s dogs” way, in which there’s as much relationship expansion as there is total could-care-less ignoring of other people going on. Twitter is a conversation, and only a conversation, between groups of people. Twitter is a chance to have a conversation with virtually anyone, and in many ways, your ability to take part in that conversation is moderated only by your ability to have something interesting to say.

I’m speaking, of course, about following famous people on Twitter.

And not all of them, obviously. A famous person’s tweets don’t necessarily have any more merit than the comments of a man on a bus talking to himself. But some of them do. And you can speak directly to those people with interesting comments. And they can speak directly to you. Think about that: it’s unprecedented in history that I can converse with actors or authors in near-real time, any time I want, about whatever I want. Even less so that I can see what these people consider worth sharing with the rest of the world beyond their work, that I can hear their opinions, or that I can see them as people.

Roger Ebert’s Twitter use is incredibly rich and extends far beyond who he is as a film critic. Susan Orleans’ includes as many comments about daily life and living in it as it does about writing. John Cusack is an extremely opinionated, liberal guy, who throws grammar and spelling to the wind.

Twitter adds a crazy degree of three-dimensionality to people who once were closed off from the rest of us unwashed miscreants. Imagine if Winston Churchill or Albert Einstein or Ghandi had lived during the revolution that is Twitter. Think about how much we could have learned about the people we consider the heroes of our culture – or of any culture.

Hell, I’ll get to the point. There’s an old adage: never meet your heroes. It goes to the fact that you can think someone is incredible, but when you actually meet them in person, they very likely can and will disappoint you. Aw, shucks, you realize – L. Ron Hubbard is human. Religion ruined.

That saying ought to be abridged, however. It should really go, “Never meet your heroes, unless they tweet.”


A few weeks ago I attended an event at Universal Studios Hollywood to promote the SyFy channel show “Caprica.” The show just entered the second half of its first season and is trying to garner a bigger viewership in order to push into a second season. It’s worth watching, if you don’t. I just paid a lot more than I probably should have to get it on DVD, merely for the chance to support the project.

But then, good TV will do that to you.

Part of why I have such a respect for “Caprica” is that the people involved in it were responsible for the recent “Battlestar Galactica,” which is among the best shows that’s ever been on TV. I was excited to go to the “Caprica” event not because of the screening of the premiere episode of Season 1.5, although that was cool, but because of the people from the show that attended. Among the participants were several of the writers, the show’s creator, Ron Moore, and executive producer Jane Espenson.

Moore was one of the driving forces behind “Galactica” and Espenson was a big part of that show, too. While I attended the event, I got the opportunity to shake Moore’s hand – which was a big deal. Way better than that: I spent roughly five minutes conversing with Espenson. Both these peopel are heroes of mine, working in a field I’d love to be a part of.

FYI: the first adage about meeting your heroes can be wrong because if your heroes tweet, it’s almost like you met them already. People who tweet, also, tend to be awesome.


Moore’s not on Twitter, but Jane Espenson tweets quite a bit. She also occasionally writes for her blog, which is chiefly about making it in television writing. Espenson was extremely cool, funny, and immediately helpful. Maybe it’s because most of the fans who come up to her to speak about “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Battlestar Galactica,” or “Firefly” know of her because they’re writers too. But she instantly diverted from me praising her work and started talking about me, what I do, what I can do to be successful in writing for TV.

Heading back to my chair, I was struck by the relatively tiny experience of giving a third dimension to these people who previously had existed to me only in DVD commentary and 140-character spurts. Ron Moore was extremely gracious for the five seconds I spent shaking his hand and telling him how much his work had affected me. And Jane Espenson, was, well…

She was exactly as cool in life as on Twitter.

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