If you no longer had your computer or phone, how far would you go to keep tweeting? Probably not as far as the teenager at the center of a recent viral string of dispatches: After her smartphone was confiscated by her mom, assumed Ariana Grande fan (her handle is @thankunext327) Dorothy appears to have tweeted via her Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and her smart fridge. We stan a resourceful queen! We are also a little skeptical—after all, it’s possible, with a bit of coding, to make tweets appear like they are coming from any device, and BuzzFeed is asking questions too. (“Dorothy,” for her part, managed to jailbreak herself to chat with New York magazine’s Intelligencer via “her cousin’s old iPod” … then with the Guardian via her cousin’s iPad. Huh! Is it really possible her cousin didn’t have a laptop she could borrow?)
Nonetheless, if her saga teaches us anything, it’s that we’re underestimating the social networking potential of the other electronics in our lives. How many non-computer or -phone devices can, in a pinch, be used for tweeting? We’ve ranked the possibilities, from most chill to most horrible. (Sadly, we did it by typing on computers. But our fridges will totally tweet the link.)
A refrigerator: An early criticism of Twitter was that “it’s just a bunch of people saying what they had for lunch.” If only. But it still could be: A bunch of Samsung models have web access; LG has one with a sophisticated touchscreen “coming soon.” This would bring us just a little closer to a Twitter that is banal, rather than soul-destroying, earning it the top spot on this list.
A flip phone: Years ago, the only way to tweet from your mobile phone was via SMS text message. This is why the character limit for tweets was 140 characters until 2017—because SMS text messages themselves had a standard character limit of 160 characters, and the developers wanted to leave space for usernames. Even though most of us have moved on, it’s still possible to tweet via texting alone. With flip phones far enough in the past to seem like a fun throwback—the Outline called them 2018’s “hottest cultural trend”—maybe tweeting from one is … actually cool now?
A Kindle: You can tweet quotes from whatever book you’re reading if you connect the device to Twitter, which could be seen as either pretentious or inspiring, depending on the book and who’s reading it. If you want to add your own observations, you’re stuck with Kindle’s cumbersome browser. (In 2011, there was a site that streamlined the process called KindleTwit, the Atlantic reported at the time, but it appears to be defunct.)
A smart watch: An app called Chirp makes it possible to send tweets from an Apple Watch. (Twitter killed its own Apple Watch app a couple years ago.) A sample screenshot uses the hashtag #showerthoughts to show that this app makes it possible to actually send ’em straight from the shower.
A Roomba: Well, one specific Roomba. In 2011, someone programmed his Roomba to have the ability to tweet, which the little guy was cursed to do when it was picked up, when it docked, and when it avoided a ledge. A lot less fun than D.J. Roomba. Still, it can be nice to know when your vacuum has made it home safely.
An iPod: You can only tweet on the Touch, which doesn’t feel very exciting. I mean, it’s a small computer. Boring, which is why we put this one right in the middle.
A pager: OK, you can’t send tweets from a pager, but you can read them. Or at least you can read tweets from one account of your choosing. Using PHP, a ham radio, a pager encoder, an actual pager, and more, a YouTube user set up a system for doing this in 2012. Hey, it’s better than nothing. Dorothy, for example, could use it to retain a lifeline to Ariana Grande’s communiques.
A toaster: “It only ever says two things: ‘toasting,’ or ‘done toasting’,” the person who jerry-rigged the toaster told a Pittsburgh NPR affiliate last year, for a profile to mark a full decade of @mytoaster. Another truly neutral use of the platform.
A washing machine: Someone else connected his washer to tweet out when it was done with the laundry, as Mashable reported several years ago. It’s been a while since the washer’s most recent dispatch: “A load of laundry finished washing at: Wed Jan 18 12:22:46 2012.”
A video game console: The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch are all tweet-capable, via shares and screenshots. But in a world that villainizes both video games and social media, combining these won’t win you any fans.
A car: An $80 adapter turns your car into a robo-car capable of sending out dispatches that you’ve pre-programmed for when, say, the car starts, or reaches a certain location. Sample: “I’m parked at Disneyland!” Unfortunately, this would be very annoying for anyone who follows you.
A fitness tracker: You can pretty easily rig your Fitbit to automatically post your daily or weekly activity to Twitter. So it doesn’t transmit words, but in a hostage situation, maybe you would be able to aim for specific numbers and then use them as a kind of code/SOS signal? In more normal circumstances, this seems like a highly efficient way to lose all your followers.
A scale: An early edition of the Withings Smart Scale could be set up to send out updates on your weight. A sample Tweet, from a 2009 Wired story on the French-based startup’s device: “My weight: 81.2 kg 1.2 kg to go.” We can’t think of a worse version of the platform than everyone sending these tweets from their scales—except maybe the one we have right now.