Twitter is a curious thing. Sometimes it lends a great deal of insight into the way somebody's day-to-day mind works. It can be a great platform for comedy, but it can also be a bottomless pit of inanity. But recently I've been following a particular feed that I find endlessly fascinating, and it belongs to Miley Cyrus. Her feed gets updated five to eight times a day, and most of them are filled with genuine human insight and surprising levels of sadness.
The first thing that struck me is how mundane her life appears to be (or at least the things she chooses to tweet about). But it doesn't come across as a famous person narcissistically gazing into her own navel and declaring everything about her life interesting — rather, they are the dispatches of a 16-year-old girl trying to find her way (which, if you recall, is exactly what she is). "Making dinner. AKA a peanut butter and jelly," reads a tweet from yesterday. She even tags it with a smiley-face emoticon. As one of the most famous people on the planet, you would assume that she has a private chef at her beck and call ready to prepare a shark steak sandwich for her. But no! Sometimes being 16 and famous means making yourself a PB&J in the wee hours of the morning.
Cyrus' Twitter also reveals excellent musical taste. She tips her hat to Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Colbie Caillat, Copeland and Vampire Weekend, all in the span of a handful of tweets. But she's also not self-conscious about her choices, as she recently praised Celine Dion.
But the thing that really cuts deep is the profound amount of existential angst that regularly sneaks into her tweets. Just today, she wrote "I can't remember the last time I felt beautiful. Ugh. I hate being a girl sometimes." Elsewhere, she talks about loneliness in very frank ways. "I feel so yucky today. Intense rehearsals are starting up and I have the worst head ache. I just wanna be cuddled." A few days ago, she tweeted, "'There falls no shadow where there shines no sun,'" a quote from English writer and philosopher Hilaire Belloc. It's a loaded line tweeted by a girl having to deal with the ups and downs of being a teenager in an extremely public setting, and in those quiet moments alone she thinks about the same things non-famous 16-year-olds do.
Miley Cyrus certainly comes across as grounded in public, but because she is somebody who was essentially born famous, it can be difficult to figure out what is real and what is a construction (ironically, she has the same problems in her real life as her character Hannah Montana). But her Twitter humanizes her in ways that no other medium does. I'm convinced that once she grows up a bit and is allowed to make more "adult" music, she's going to turn out some truly incredible stuff that will mine the depths of her own condition in a shockingly honest fashion (I imagine her taking the reverse trajectory of Liz Phair, where her fifth album is raw and all about her real-life love drama).
Until then, she's earned a follower not by being famous but by being real.