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Shaquille O'Neal vs. Joel Stein on Twitter

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Shaq: Jonathan Daniel / Getty

Joel Stein and Shaquille O'Neal face off.

Shaq's Twitter Essay
i like twitter because its a way for me to talk directly wit everyone. some people call me a celebrity but im just a person who happens to be on tv. i can tweet from anywhere n its quick. i like to hear what everyone is sayin. specially bout my sho, lol. i wish i had time to respond to more people on twitter. some days i just listen n dont tweet. people think im not there, but im always listenin. im about entertainment and makin people laugh. i like to invent games like twitter tag n meet people in person. sometimes lots of people sho up like in portland. i sat on a corner in phx one time n told fans where i was. i gave em tix and they came to a game. in the beginning i would tell people to dm me wit a phone # so i could call em and prove it was me tweetin. twitter allows me to take back da microphone. fans can hear everything straight from da diesels mouth. shaqmedia, lol.

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 Joel's Twitter Essay

I didn't ask for this power. I signed up for Twitter to follow others, really. Others who, perhaps, I had once dated or wanted to date or would like to watch having wild dating with another person. But a few months ago my followers exploded from hundreds to hundreds of thousands, and I felt compelled to entertain. It was like being shoved on stage in front of 700,000 screaming, adoring, clothes-rending fans begging for statements of less than 140 characters.

I assumed I became one of the 200 most popular people on twitter due to my Dorothy Parker-level quipping. Stuff like "Every Bastille Day I think the same sad thought: "I have never stormed anything" and "World music makes me not want to travel." But it turns out that Twitter provides a suggestion list of people to follow when you sign up, and they put me on the list. Due, no doubt, to my Dorothy-Parker level quipping. Unless I'm on some suggestion list VCs provide internet companies with when they sign up for investment money.

Looking to do something responsible with my power, I announced to my followers that CNN host Rick Sanchez is my sworn nemesis and asked them to spread false rumors about him, including one about how he gambled on the Olympics against America. Four of them did. This is because, as with all numbers given for what people do on the web, I do not really have anywhere near the 700,000 followers twitter claims. I have 700,000 followers who signed up for twitter once and never looked at it again. I figure maybe 5,000 people read my tweets and maybe half of them make it all the way to the end of the 140 characters. This did not shock me, since — after writing a column in Time for a decade with my name in big letters on the top of the page — I often run into people who subscribe to the magazine and have never seen my work. Some of these people also believe TIME has a crossword puzzle. We really need to jack up those subscription prices.

My twitter fame hasn't brought me money, jobs or naked twit pics from fans. Being the 180th most popular person on twitter is less powerful than being on an episode of E!'s 101 Hottest Hotties of Hotliwood for three seconds. In fact, the only effect it has had, is that my friends on twitter ask me to tweet about them. Which is the writing equivalent of yelling encouragement to people while they masturbate.

Still, I feel compelled to tweet once a day, for my 700,000 imaginary readers. Because as a writer, all readers are imaginary anyway. Only with twitter, some of the fake ones have hot pictures.