By Virginia Heffernan
@RobLowe does, however, follow @ikimlowe, the new wife of his brother, who helpfully identifies herself on the site as “wife of @ichadlowe.” Would @HilaryASwank, a formidable actor who does not use Twitter very often, have consented to live in her lesser-known husband’s Twitter shadow? Perhaps not. Perhaps that’s why they div—
But what am I doing? This is where Twitter can lead a person: to deranged, speculative pointless nosiness. To mindlessly customizing a version of Us Weekly magazine by reading between the Twitter lines of who follows whom, who tags whom, who seeks whose attention with tags and hashtags.
So forget that. I’m just going to keep following @RobLowe. His Twitter feed is one for the ages, and he’s on a tear, having just hit half a million followers. And I swear I follow Rob Lowe for the epigrams and jokes—why else?—though, yes, I once had a poster of the matinee idol from “St. Elmo’s Fire” on my wall. (But only because I learned that science had proven that he and Jaclyn Smith were the most perfectly symmetrical, beautiful humans ever to exist—and who ever would exist. It was a duty of citizenship in the human race to have a poster!)
Not long after “St. Elmo’s Fire,” @RobLowe, the record reflects, had a speedy fall after an early-adopter DIY sex tape (1988! Paris Hilton's was not 'til 2003!). As Lowe’s first-rate autobiography reports, this was part of a bigger personal unraveling into promiscuity and dissipation on an NBA/Lohan scale. Eventually Lowe found deliverance in sobriety (which he names as one of his interests on Twitter) and the love of a good woman, @Sheryl_Lowe (business) or @Sheryllowe61 (personal).
Lowe also evidently found something in Twitter. As his career has done more than rebound—it has fully realized itself, with his comic-stilted-earnest-inimitable performances on “The West Wing,” “Brothers & Sisters” and, now, “Parks and Recreation”—he has built a sturdy and complementary Twitter feed.
Lowe’s Twitter presence seals his comeback. It is freewheeling, wide-ranging and among his best work. The onetime incorrigible gadfly, who might have died outside the Viper Room like River Phoenix or been left howling at the moon like Charlie Sheen, now knows who he is, has a gift for observational humor and lives his life with something that looks like joy.
Lowe recently retweeted this observation from the Telegraph’s Damian Thompson:
.@roblowe "Class" is underrated. (As a movie, rather than as a motivating force in society.)— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) December 10, 2012
I'm not kidding. If Hostess goes under I will mourn. And wear a black arm band. In the shape of a Chocodile. Then, I will try to eat it.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) November 16, 2012
Another Lowe tweet:
Watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It is genius. So smart and lovely. Would NEVER be made today.— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) December 7, 2012
Which of us--especially those of us who were born in the 1960s--doesn’t feel like saying that aloud every year?
And speaking of Lowe’s vintage, it’s appealing that he’s not afraid to use our generation’s corny locutions on young-skewing Twitter. As he put it recently:
The merciless “pumped” kills me. Do people never leave the slang (or bands?) of their 20s? Lowe is big on “dude,” too.
At the same time, Lowe seems to enjoy aging:
Post Thanksgiving. In the gym. Urgh. #MaybeTreagerShouldGetFat— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) November 27, 2012
He wrote this last month, referring to Chris Traeger, his character on “Parks and Recreation,” who exercises without cease, gunning for eternal life. In Traeger’s intense specificity—his needs in beverages, for example, are so idiosyncratic as to require paragraphs of instructions—he is a perfect new-sitcom archetype. One thing he is not is cool.
And neither is Lowe cool in his Twitter feed. Often he is sending out blessings to his followers or his family, or reveling in mere existence, with the hashtag #LoveLife. Lowe’s autobiography makes clear that the Handsome Man, a cultural slot in which he found himself early on, invites way too much resentment if he doesn’t start spoofing himself with gusto. It’s imperative he find the joke in life, and the dignity in himself, or he’ll yield to prettiness and silliness, as well as drugs and sex tapes.
Look on that @RobLowe Twitter feed, and learn from it, ye handsome millennials!