Blogger Dave Catanese, a freelancer formerly with Politico, did the unthinkable for Esquire. He dropped off Twitter for a week just to see what would happen. In the story, he compares his addiction to that of an food addict at an all-you-can eat brunch. So it wasn’t a cake walk. There were moments he wanted to gorge. But no, he didn’t combust. The worst of it: he felt less relevant. For Washington media, that’s dying a thousand deaths. “Gone was the ability to be immediately self-assured that my take on the topic d’jour mattered and held value with my peers,” he wrote. “If it sounds a tad self-absorbed, well, welcome to Washington.”
Some embarrassing details Catanese admitted in his first-person account: 1. Among the first things he does upon waking is he sees how many new followers he has and checks his retweets. 2. He nearly screwed up the entire assignment by initially clicking on Twitter. Then he remembered. “It was just a split second, though,” he writes. 3. He sometimes falls asleep with his phone in hand: “On some particularly insatiable nights, I fall asleep with the phone nestled in my hand on the pillow.” Seriously, nestled?
The writer admits there were upsides to taking the week off — he read more, he slept without the device cradled in his hand. “I’ll probably gradually ease back into my Twitter habits, mostly because it’s a main avenue to promote my work as a freelancer and for my site TheRun2016.com,” Catanese told FishbowlDC this morning. “But I must say I haven’t gotten back into the Twitter groove just yet. I think being away from it for a week and not missing anything major made it slightly easier to stay away from. I didn’t wake up Monday morning dying to Tweet, but then again it’s only been a few days.”
Still, maybe more importantly, traffic on his website, TheRun2016.com, dipped 30 – 50 percent while he was away from his Twitter buffet.
At one point he writes:
Twitter offers a shield, which allows you to be expressive, bold — even offensive — for all of your most influential followers to witness, without having to confront the awkward social consequences of an in-person engagement. (“How can he be so hilarious on Twitter and yet so awkward in person?” a friend recently asked me about one of the city’s more prolific political Tweeps.)
Naturally we went on a FishbowlDC manhunt to see if we could figure out who this prolific Tweep was.
We pressed Catanese on who this individual is.
“Ha. You really think I can give that up?” he replied to FBDC. “I’m getting lots of queries on it. Luckily there are enough socially awkward people in DC that the person referenced should be well protected.”
Sam Youngman, a Twitter regular and former reporter for Reuters and The Hill, agreed. “Hilarious on Twitter but awkward in person? That’s what most of this town puts in their profile right under ‘RTs don’t equal endorsements,’” Youngman wrote FishbowlDC.
When asked who they think this “awkward” tweeper is, a longtime journalist remarked, “I can’t think of anything more mind-numbing than reporters talking about their Twitter habits.” Another was more amused. “This is so funny — the DC version of a blind item! He has to mean [Slate's] Dave Weigel, right? Or the entire staff of his former employer, Politico. Or you know — he could mean Dave Catanese.”
Most sources we questioned named Weigel as the prime suspect. But we are all Dave Weigel, at least a little bit, right?