How Twitter Makes Us All Superheroes (Or Villains)

Comic book fans have been raised on the secret identity. Who is Superman without Clark Kent? Spider-man without Peter Parker? The dual-identities allow the characters to express two distinctly different sides of themselves. One side is the heroic, save the world side. The other side is the seemingly ho-hum and normal everyday man (or woman) side. These two sides are often so drastically diametrically opposed to avoid arousing suspicion that the two identities are really the same person.

On the other hand, there are some individuals who embrace their namesake regardless of their actions. Lex Luthor is both the ruthless businessman AND the ruthless supervillain. Professor X is both the leader of the Charles Xavier School for the Gifted AND one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel Universe. Ironically, both Lex and Professor X are bald, but that doesn't really have anything to do with secret identities.

Does this sound familiar? To me it sounds a lot like Twitter.

Twitter is a marvelous little service. On the surface it seems pretty superfluous, a service dedicated to what are essentially status updates. The internet made anonymity immensely easy, but Twitter has leveled the playing field by giving everyone the same power. That power? Say something that will stay with readers in under 140 characters. Some take to comedy, some take to politics. Others pitch their works, while a few call out other Twitter folk. Twitter users are analogous to superheroes (or villains if that's your cup of tea) with this 140 character power at their fingertips.

Twitter is creating a universe filled with superheroes (and villains). Every minute its users are flinging their powers left and right in their tweets, fighting what they perceive as bad or touting the virtues of what they perceive as good. We're all simultaneously heroes to some and villains to others depending on our point of view in a single tweet. That's something that other social networks have yet to capture with such brevity and succinctness.

Some people choose to identify with who they are (Ron Marz/@ronmarz) while others choose to identify with what they do (@DCWomenKickAss). Obviously, there's no right or wrong way to create the Twitter identity and I'm not here to recommend one over the other. Most of the people I follow use their given name (with or without various forms of punctuation or numerals), but there are some that take on the identity of their outlet, publisher, work, etc. I'm fairly certain that Ryan Penagos didn't choose the Twitter handle @Agent M because he was worried about followers finding out who he was and going after his friends and family. It's because that's the identity he wants followers to identify his tweets with.

Personally, I'm a big fan and am glad to see so many creative types getting a lot out of Twitter. For those of us that need it for changing into our Twitter identity (@Omnicomic included) maybe at some point we'll see some phone booths on the side to change into. Although I hope that a Twitter user never uses tweets to go after someone's "secret identity." It never works out well and makes you out to be the villain more often than not.

Please note that the Twitter handles referenced in this post are purely for example purposes only. I don't think Ron Marz is equivalent to Lex Luthor.