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Canadian actor William Shatner is photographed in Toronto, Monday, October 21, 2013. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Canadian actor William Shatner is photographed in Toronto, Monday, October 21, 2013. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Why William Shatner quit (then unquit) Twitter Add to ...

William Shatner’s love affair with Twitter is currently on again, but you might want to check his Twitter account just to make sure.

The impish Canadian actor and original Star Trek captain has befuddled his 1.79-million Twitter followers – and everyone else – by going back and forth on quitting the social media site in the past 24 hours.

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As most everyone knows, Shatner has practically become the poster boy for Twitter these past few years. Or at least the octogenarian poster boy: Shatner turns 83 next month.

But for a man in his 80s, Shatner has worked Twitter like nobody’s business.

Beyond his prolific posting of random thoughts and observations (he’s tweeted more than 12,000 times), Shatner has been one of very few celebrities to successfully merge his role as TV pitchman into Twitter.

Although the previous generation knew him as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, the current breed of Twitter users know him primarily as the guy from the Priceline.com commercials, in which he appears with The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco.

On Monday, Shatner tweeted details of a Priceline.com contest in which the top prize was the cowboy hat he wore in their latest commercial.

And of course it’s worth noting Shatner held the titular role on CBS’s $h*! My Dad Says, the single-season sitcom notable for being the first (and only) network comedy based on a Twitter feed.

All of which might make Shatner’s abrupt departure from Twitter unlikely, but that seemed to be his goal earlier this week.

How it began: On Wednesday morning, Shatner posted a cryptic tweet consisting entirely of a stanza lifted from the classic Lewis Carroll poem The Walrus and the Carpenter.

Specifically: “ ‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said/‘To talk of many things/Of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax/Of cabbages – and kings.’ ”

A curious tweet, no question, but curiouser still was Shatner’s immediate followup tweet: “My Dear friends, after much deliberation I’ve made the decision to leave Twitter. It’s not an easy decision but it’s the right one for me.”

And Shatner’s seeming farewell to Twitter appeared to be fait accompli when he followed that tweet with, “I wish you all my very best. Bill.”

But Shatner has long been known for his puckish behaviour. Six hours later, he reversed his sendoff by tweeting, “Well you know I decided since Tom Bergeron quit America’s Funniest Videos I would quit Twitter. Only kidding. MBB.”

And just in case his followers didn’t get the message, he followed up a few hours later with the tweet, “Made a bad midnight decision. Pressured by too many things on my plate. In a fit of pique, I quit Twitter. Boy did I make a mistake. My Best, Bill.”

Naturally, it’s Shatner’s prerogative to either quit or rejoin any organization as he sees fit, and he’s certainly not the first famous person to waffle on their Twitter participation. At last count, actor Alec Baldwin has quit and rejoined Twitter three times.

But Baldwin’s resignations and returns were connected to controversy, and there was certainly nothing controversial in Shatner’s world in recent memory.

More likely is that Shatner’s signoff was intended to get people talking, and in turn maintain his profile as the man willing to shill anything for a price. Also on Shatner’s client list is the Canadian aviation company Bombardier, with whom he has been working with since 2011.

On Monday, Shatner tweeted, “I am looking forward to this busy weekend in which Bombardier the great Canadian airplane manufacturer is flying me all over North America.”

That’s our William Shatner. Still going boldly after all these years.

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