Jerry Saltz may be the most Facebook-proficient art critic in history, but the guy continues to seriously struggle when it comes to mastering the next social media frontier: Twitter. The New York magazine critic, who carries on constant massive group conversations on his Facebook page, has historically kept Twitter at arm’s length, sometimes going months with scarcely a tweet. (We can thank famous tweeter @museumnerd for setting him up in the first place last year.) Yesterday, however, Saltz went on a bona-fide Twitter binge, his second such outburst this year. The contents of the endless stream of updates? His own inability to use Twitter.
“I have NO IDEA what a Twitter feed is,” Saltz wrote in reply to a tweet from Brooklyn-based artist William Powhida, a truth made evident by a series of tweets the critic proceeded to post several times in a row. “Oh great @ARTnewsmag, what is ‘handle?'” he asked, before soliciting definitions for hashtags, bookmarks, and direct messages. Fans Saltz decided to follow yesterday tweeted their accomplishment with pride, only to find out that the critic’s decision was not his own: “I click ‘follow’ on all the ‘suggestions’ Twitter suggests. IS that wrong?” Of the “favorite” button, which allows users to save tweets they enjoy, he wrote, “What happens when I click on the STAR thingy next to a tweet and then it turns golden? Really. I like the color, a lot.”
The Twittersphere was alternatively delighted and horrified by Saltz’ amateur debut. “This thing going on over at @jerrysaltz is just shy of Fluxus,” wrote one user. “I’m beginning to think Jerry’s using it as a performance art piece!” said another. One unsympathetic user wrote, “I can’t help but wonder if we should also show him how his coffee maker works.”
After a moment of self-reflection drew him away from the site yesterday (“You know what? You are right. I AM ‘focusing more on twitter & less on art today.’ I will leave now. Thank you,” he tweeted), the critic came back for more. Acknowledging he’s still getting the hang of things, he returned to his Facebook page — his natural habitat — to post: “I’m still working out how to best use Twitter — bear with me. Thanks.”