Much was made yesterday over Prince’s opposition to digital music: We relived his battle against concert recording and the bastardization of digital audio quality; we were reminded over and over again that he’d pulled his music from Spotify and put it on Tidal. (Which makes this Spotify tweet slightly off-putting.) The message: Prince hated the internet.
But he didn’t. His first two tweets (back when he was tweeting from @3rdeyegirl) are better than anything you or I have tweeted, and certainly more perfectly Twitter than first tweets deserve to be.
He left Twitter at one point, but he came back with a verified account in 2015, and the magic — even if it was possibly run by Prince and Co. — was back. His complete disregard for structure and coherence, and his love of all-caps, almost made it seem like Prince was part of Weird Twitter, except he would never know or care about such a distinction. He referred to himself in the third person and sent out screenshots of whatever he was looking up on Google Images. He promoted himself sans thirst, and he developed a personal habit of smushing a link in between two declarative phrases, a syntax we should all adopt. A link sandwich, if you will. He insisted on spelling “I” as “eye.” (He even called it eyeTunes. Such commitment.)
It went beyond Twitter: Prince also managed to be cool on Facebook, where he entertained a live Q&A by not showing up until it’d been running for three hours. He answered one question and cut out. On Instagram, he would sometimes post a series of photo fragments that, when viewed as a whole, revealed his entire face. It was strange and then wonderful to see an apparently nonsensical photo and eventually realize he’d actually posted a selfie to outdo all selfies. Naturally. In an internet full of celebrity artifice and ~personal branding~, blatant disregard for a platform’s rules was exactly what made Prince so entirely welcome and natural. (In social media as in life, I guess.) Now all we need is to get his emoji pushed through. See to it, Unicode.
This piece originally appeared in the April 22, 2016, edition of the Ringer newsletter.