365 Things I Learned By Tweeting The Date For 365 Days

Alex Zalben
May 4, 2018 · 9 min read

It started off innocently enough.

If you’re not familiar with the “holiday” that is “May The Fourth,” the idea is pretty simple:

  • May is when Star Wars movies usually used to be released.
  • “May The Fourth” sounds like “May The Force…”
  • So people started celebrating “May The Fourth Be With You” day every year.

It actually started in an even weirder way, with Margaret Thatcher’s election (I wrote an explainer about this in my MTV news days), but that’s not why we’re here.

The short version is, I thought it would be funny to keep tweeting the date, a.k.a. “May the fifth be with you,” “May the sixth be with you,” etc.

Yeah, see? There you go. Pretty clever. I’m a clever girl.

Anyway, what wasn’t so clever is that once I was in that bit, I kept going. I probably could have gotten out of it on June 3, or June 4 or something. But at some point, I was just trapped.

It wasn’t like I was getting hundred of retweets, or Mark Hamill appeared as a force ghost to me and told me to trust my feelings. It was just a bit, and because I started it, I couldn’t end it.

Now, here we are, one year later. It’s May 4, 2018, and I’ve tweeted the date 365 times. I had to learn something, right? Some profound life lesson that I can impart on you all, something that I took away from this experience that changed my life and defined my days?

With that in mind, here are 365 lessons I learned from tweeting the date 365 days in a row:

  1. Don’t do this.
  2. Seriously, don’t do this.
  3. Why would you do this.
  4. Don’t.
  5. Just don’t.
  6. Please don’t.
  7. I know you’re thinking about doing this, but don’t.
  8. I’m serious, don’t do this.
  9. Look at my face: this is my serious face. Don’t do this.
  10. You kind of want to, though, right? Don’t.
  11. You think I’m daring you? To do this? No. Don’t.
  12. Do. Not.
  13. Dooooon’t.
  14. Don’t do it.
  15. Why would you do it? Instead, don’t do it.
  16. Probably by now you’re also wondering if I’m actually going to do this 365 times? I’m wondering that myself.
  17. Don’t.
  18. Do not and also don’t.
  19. Seriously. Don’t.
  20. Stop.
  21. Please stop.
  22. It’s not worth it. Stop.
  23. Stop it.
  24. Don’t.
  25. No.
  26. Absolutely not.
  27. You shouldn’t.
  28. You won’t, right?
  29. Promise me you won’t.
  30. You’ll think it’s funny at first, but then it will become a chore.
  31. People will expect you to do it, but you don’t have to.
  32. Don’t do it.
  33. Do not.
  34. Why would you? I already did it. No need to do it.
  35. Have you heard of calendars? Calendars exist.
  36. They have the date, and everything.
  37. There’s also a date on your phone.
  38. And your computer.
  39. And most places you look.
  40. Like when you go in a store.
  41. Or on the TV, sometimes.
  42. Or you can ask someone else.
  43. There’s no reason to do this.
  44. Don’t do this.
  45. How many more of these? 320? Okay.
  46. Hey, 320 is 40 short of 360! That’s a full circle. Bringing it full circle is what I do, baby!
  47. Don’t do this.
  48. Don’t.
  49. Don’t.
  50. Don’t.
  51. Don’t.
  52. Don’t.
  53. Don’t.
  54. Don’t.
  55. Don’t.
  56. Don’t.
  57. Don’t.
  58. Don’t.
  59. Don’t.
  60. Don’t.
  61. Don’t.
  62. Don’t.
  63. Don’t.
  64. Don’t.
  65. Don’t.
  66. Don’t.
  67. Don’t.
  68. Don’t.
  69. Don’t.
  70. Don’t.
  71. Don’t.
  72. Don’t.
  73. But maybe you should?
  74. Don’t.
  75. Don’t.
  76. Don’t.
  77. Don’t.
  78. Don’t.
  79. Don’t.
  80. Don’t.
  81. Don’t.
  82. Don’t.
  83. Don’t.
  84. Don’t.
  85. Don’t.
  86. Don’t.
  87. Don’t.
  88. Don’t.
  89. Don’t.
  90. Don’t.
  91. What’s the worst that can happen?
  92. Don’t.
  93. Don’t.
  94. Don’t.
  95. Don’t.
  96. Don’t.
  97. Don’t.
  98. Don’t.
  99. Don’t.
  100. Don’t.
  101. Don’t.
  102. Don’t.
  103. Don’t.
  104. Don’t.
  105. Don’t.
  106. Don’t.
  107. Well for one thing, you can feel the weight of an obligation when you already have a number of obligations in your life, like caring for your children, or your job. Why add one more stressor? Is it really worth a comedy bit that’s not even that funny to begin with?
  108. Don’t.
  109. Don’t.
  110. Don’t.
  111. Don’t.
  112. Don’t.
  113. Don’t.
  114. Don’t.
  115. Don’t.
  116. Don’t.
  117. Don’t.
  118. Don’t.
  119. Don’t.
  120. Don’t.
  121. Don’t.
  122. Don’t.
  123. Don’t.
  124. Don’t.
  125. Don’t.
  126. Here’s the thing, though: it did provide regularity to my life, a rhythm to it. Every morning, I woke up and thought, “oh, time to tweet my dumb bit.” In these uncertain times, it gave me an anchor, something to hold on to that wasn’t anger at the world, or sadness about the direction we’re heading as a society.
  127. But still maybe don’t.
  128. Don’t.
  129. Don’t.
  130. Don’t.
  131. Don’t.
  132. Don’t.
  133. Don’t.
  134. Don’t.
  135. Don’t.
  136. Don’t.
  137. Don’t.
  138. Don’t.
  139. Don’t.
  140. Don’t.
  141. Don’t.
  142. Don’t.
  143. At first some people were like “LOL STOP” and then some people were like “LOL KEEP GOING.” It was hard to know which direction to go in. Was I annoying people? Did the people who liked it, like it because it was annoying?
  144. Don’t.
  145. Don’t.
  146. Don’t.
  147. Don’t.
  148. Don’t.
  149. Don’t.
  150. Don’t.
  151. Don’t.
  152. Don’t.
  153. Don’t.
  154. Don’t.
  155. Don’t.
  156. Don’t.
  157. Don’t.
  158. Don’t.
  159. But then as time went on, I started to hear from people who seemed to legitimately get joy from me tweeting the date every day. Again, there was that nagging doubt, that perhaps they got that joy because I was annoying other people. But if it did give them joy divorced from that, perhaps it was worth it.
  160. Don’t.
  161. Don’t.
  162. Don’t.
  163. Don’t.
  164. Don’t.
  165. Don’t.
  166. Don’t.
  167. Don’t.
  168. Don’t.
  169. Don’t.
  170. Don’t.
  171. Don’t.
  172. Don’t.
  173. Don’t.
  174. Don’t.
  175. Don’t.
  176. Don’t.
  177. Then that led to the thought: was it enough people who cared? And how many people is enough? Did I need thousands of people talking to me about this, retweeting and giving accolades? Or is one person telling me “keep going” enough?
  178. Don’t.
  179. Don’t.
  180. Don’t.
  181. Don’t.
  182. Don’t.
  183. Don’t.
  184. Don’t.
  185. Don’t.
  186. Don’t.
  187. Don’t.
  188. Don’t.
  189. Don’t.
  190. Don’t.
  191. Don’t.
  192. Don’t.
  193. I’ve always believed that being able to bring people joy is the most important thing in life. Whether it’s through comedy, or giving presents, or introducing people to a book or movie of TV show I love that I hope they love, too… That’s what brings me joy. It’s a little selfish, right? That I do things for people because it gives me a positive feeling? But that’s something I started to feel with this, that the scant people who did say “keep going,” or would tweet the date back at me… It brought them joy. A little joy. Not much joy. But again, why measure joy? Isn’t even the tiniest bit worth everything in the world?
  194. Don’t.
  195. Don’t.
  196. Don’t.
  197. Don’t.
  198. Don’t.
  199. Don’t.
  200. Don’t.
  201. Don’t.
  202. Don’t.
  203. Don’t.
  204. Don’t.
  205. Don’t.
  206. Don’t.
  207. Don’t.
  208. Don’t.
  209. How many more of these to go? 157? A’ight.
  210. Don’t.
  211. Don’t.
  212. Don’t.
  213. Don’t.
  214. Don’t.
  215. Don’t.
  216. Don’t.
  217. Don’t.
  218. Don’t.
  219. Don’t.
  220. Don’t.
  221. Don’t.
  222. Don’t.
  223. Don’t.
  224. Don’t.
  225. Don’t.
  226. Don’t.
  227. The other thing I discovered is that every day, it reminded me of Star Wars. It’s not like we have a lack of Star Wars in our society or anything, but it brings me personal joy. I love the movies, they make me happy, so every day it was like a jolt of caffeine, reminding me of something I liked right when I woke up. So that was nice, starting the day with a positive affirmation, rather than a dire news alert.
  228. Don’t.
  229. Don’t.
  230. Don’t.
  231. Don’t.
  232. Don’t.
  233. Don’t.
  234. Don’t.
  235. Don’t.
  236. Don’t.
  237. Don’t.
  238. Don’t.
  239. Don’t.
  240. Don’t.
  241. Don’t.
  242. Don’t.
  243. Don’t.
  244. Don’t.
  245. Is that what I was doing? An affirmation in the morning? Was this some sort of new-agey BS in disguise? Was I doing the equivalent of a “Hang in there, Kitty” poster in the guise of a Twitter bit? Oh god, I hope not.
  246. Don’t.
  247. Don’t.
  248. Don’t.
  249. Don’t.
  250. Don’t.
  251. Don’t.
  252. Don’t.
  253. Don’t.
  254. Don’t.
  255. Don’t.
  256. Don’t.
  257. Don’t.
  258. Don’t.
  259. Don’t.
  260. Don’t.
  261. Don’t.
  262. Don’t.
  263. But so what if I was? Positive affirmations do work. If you smile, you get happier. If you think positive, you can be positive. So if tweeting the date was, in fact, an affirmation about something I like, Star Wars, that’s okay. Saying “May the fourth be with you!” is an affirmation on its own, a way of reminding people of the hope of the series and infusing their day with positivity and kindness. It may have been unintentional, but it was there, and for me at least, it was real.
  264. Don’t.
  265. Don’t.
  266. Don’t.
  267. Don’t.
  268. Don’t.
  269. Don’t.
  270. Don’t.
  271. Don’t.
  272. Don’t.
  273. Don’t.
  274. Don’t.
  275. Don’t.
  276. Don’t.
  277. Don’t.
  278. Don’t.
  279. Don’t.
  280. But was it worth it? It wasn’t much effort — just a tweet a day — but it did feel like a chore at some point after the first month. And by month two and three, I couldn’t see a way out of the bit. Was feeling trapped like that worth an ounce of joy given to a minuscule amount of people?
  281. Don’t.
  282. Don’t.
  283. Don’t.
  284. Don’t.
  285. Don’t.
  286. Don’t.
  287. Don’t.
  288. Don’t.
  289. Don’t.
  290. Don’t.
  291. Don’t.
  292. Don’t.
  293. Don’t.
  294. Don’t.
  295. Don’t.
  296. Don’t.
  297. I’m going to go with yes. It was worth it. I wouldn’t recommend you do it (see the several hundred “don’t”s above), because feeling trapped isn’t a great feeling. But I did figure out a way out of the bit. This is the way out. It needed to be something big and overwhelming, because for months this has felt like an overwhelming task. Would it be a video with hundreds of people saying “May The Fourth Be With You!” Would it just be dropping it and stopping w/o doing anything on May 4, like some people suggested? Would it be talking to Mark Hamill’s reps and seeing if he’d film a video with me (I ultimately chickened out with the last one because I just felt dumb asking*)? No, it was this. I did this mostly by myself for 365 days, so I needed to end it by myself.
  298. Don’t.
  299. Don’t.
  300. Don’t.
  301. Don’t.
  302. Don’t.
  303. Don’t.
  304. Don’t.
  305. Don’t.
  306. Don’t.
  307. Don’t.
  308. Don’t.
  309. Don’t.
  310. Don’t.
  311. Don’t.
  312. Don’t.
  313. Don’t.
  314. *”Hi, my name is Alex Zalben. I’ve been tweeting the date every day, and was hoping Mark Hamill, star of the Star Wars movies, would say ‘May The Fourth Be With You’ with me for a Twitter bit? Yes, I will hold indefinitely.” ← See? I couldn’t figure out how to not make that seem dumb**.
  315. Don’t.
  316. Don’t.
  317. Don’t.
  318. Don’t.
  319. Don’t.
  320. Don’t.
  321. Don’t.
  322. Don’t.
  323. Don’t.
  324. **And then, of course Mark Hamill went and just tweeted it out: https://twitter.com/HamillHimself/status/991398529510723584
  325. I had a lot of folks legitimately telling me they were so sorry he went and did this in my mentions, which was really sweet and actually made these last few days feel pretty nice. But it’s fine! It’s not like this was such a brilliant joke to begin with that someone else couldn’t come up with it. And honestly, this was more about me tweeting the date at a certain point, than how the joke started. Whatever, I’m not going to get upset that some two-bit actor so bad they had to write him out of a movie series made the same joke as me***.
  326. ***Just kidding Mark Hamill, I love you.
  327. Don’t.
  328. Don’t.
  329. Don’t.
  330. Don’t.
  331. Don’t.
  332. Don’t.
  333. Don’t.
  334. Don’t.
  335. Don’t.
  336. Don’t.
  337. At the end of The Last Jedi, Leia tells Rey that they have everything they need, right there. The Resistance has been whittled down to, like, 12 people. She knows there are others around the galaxy, but it’s a drop in the bucket versus the overwhelming evil of The First Order. But it harkens back to what Rose tells Finn, a phrase that has stuck with me since I saw the movie and really, for better or worse, kept me going with this bit: “That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” I think about that. A lot. I don’t want to say tweeting the date was as profound as what Rose says, but holding on to that spark of silliness, of happiness, of love for Star Wars was important to me. It kept me even in the middle of what has been an incredibly rough few years. Those dumb bits may be dumb, but that’s how we win against the darkness. Not with bold gestures, but with little ones.
  338. So… Maybe do?
  339. Nah, don’t do this exact thing.
  340. Definitely not.
  341. But find your own bit?
  342. Your own happiness?
  343. Find the thing you like, something that brings you joy, every day if you can.
  344. Not tweeting the date.
  345. Don’t do that.
  346. And maybe don’t find something repetitive that makes you feel trapped.
  347. Like tweeting the date.
  348. Yeah, not a great idea.
  349. An idea, but maybe not the best one.
  350. But something, a spark, a light in the darkness.
  351. Find your thing and hold on to it, treasure it. Share it if you want, or don’t if you don’t.
  352. But it’s yours, and you deserve to be happy.
  353. We all do.
  354. Even if it’s just a brief blip of a moment in the morning, mere seconds as you make yourself laugh.
  355. So today, think about that. What is that thing that brings you happiness? How can you make it a more regular thing in your life?
  356. Maybe it’s your job, or your friends, or your family.
  357. Maybe it’s a movie.
  358. Or a book.
  359. Or a TV show.
  360. Or hiking.
  361. Maybe it’s just looking out the window every once in a while, or a glass of nice, cold water.
  362. Whatever it is, give it to yourself, and allow yourself to have that joy.
  363. We all deserve happiness, and hope, and love. We can’t always have it. There isn’t always time. But make time for something in your day that provides that spark, that moment that you can keep close to your heart for the other 23 hours and 59 minutes.
  364. And remember…
  365. May the fourth be with you. Always.

Author of “Thor And The Warriors Four” for Marvel. Comic Book Club Live! for Nerdist. Sketch comedy with Elephant Larry. Formerly MTV News/UGO/AMC. Other stuff.

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