Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What If I Was A Twitter Celebrity? #whatifIwasaTwittercelebrity

I travel a lot for work. In fact, I was in the midst of a ludicrous string of flights last Tuesday, which is why I didn't get a chance to post anything - but enough with the lame excuses. Anyway, when you go through airport security nowadays, they generally direct you through some pretty intimidating imaging technology called Backscatter X-Rays. Use of this technology is optional, they always say, and if you don't want to be exposed to the little extra burst of potentially harmful radiation, you can "opt out" and select a full-body pat-down instead. I always opt out, despite the supposedly low dose, because when you average 4-6 trips to the airport a week, those mrems start to add up, you know what I'm sayin'?

The concept of "opting out" of a commonplace, accepted practice that people have long since taken for granted came up to me recently regarding Facebook. Sure there was a time when I made the conscious decision (much later than most) to sign up for the service, yet as the years went by and I became gradually more and more dissatisfied with the product, I simply put up with it. I was on Facebook, and that was that. Until recently, when I decided I didn't want to put up with the hassle of maintaining a digital profile, and I successfully "opted out" of Facebook.

Just to set the records straight, I don't have a problem with Social Media as such, or with anyone who uses Facebook. I just think it should be separate and distinct from our regular lives, in the way that mobile uploads and status updates can never allow Facebook to be again. I think Social Media should be something for which you have to consciously and actively "opt in", rather than the unspoken norm that acts as an alternative reality/massive time-suck. I think Social Media should have a purpose and be directly to the point. Which is why I've recently gotten involved with Twitter. And why I'm currently fantasizing about what it would be like to be a Twitter Celebrity. I even created a hashtag, which asks the musical question: #whatifIwasaTwittercelebrity?


Correct me if I'm wrong, but there seem to be very few instances of people becoming celebrities through Facebook alone. If someone is famous, and has a Facebook page, that page will surely get a lot of traffic. But Facebook works much better as an extension of one's real-life persona than as a medium to create one via the magic and anonymity of the Intertubes. But because of Twitter's ubiquity and the ease with which it lets anyone "Join the conversation", it's quite common to use the site for a variety of purposes, including spreading news, talking about your feelings, or telling jokes. And the time investment is so short, both to write and to read things on Twitter, that it's also quite common for Twitter accounts to gain fame and notoriety based only on the content.

Sure, some of the confirmed "blue-checked" users inherit popularity because of who they are in real life, such as @charliesheen or @ladygaga. But others have to earn their followers through clever gimmicks (@bpglobalpr) or assumed identities (@god_damn_batman). In this way, Twitter lets anonymous creativity soar, while also promoting the development of the Sound Byte as Art Form.

So what has to go into these sound bytes to make them catchy, memorable, and readable? I haven't spent much time trying to figure it out. I'm still a relative Twitter novice, still working my way thru the RT @'s and the #FF's and all. I'm sure there's a crack team somewhere deep in the Library of Congress trying to formulate the Science of the Tweet. And we're all anxiously awaiting the results of their tireless research... which I'm hoping will be released via a series of Tweets.

I'll be the first to admit I don't really have an overarching Twitter strategy. I've mostly tweeted about my interests: observations about baseball; quotes from movies I like or lyrics from songs stuck in my head; the occasional philosophical insight or odd joke. I don't know exactly why I tweet. I don't know exactly for whom I'm tweeting. I guess the fantasy is that there are enough people out there with my exact interests who happen to stumble on my tweets, and then band together into a group of loyal followers. And thus the legend of Hunter S. Batman grows into a reality.

What's more likely is that my tweets provoke an occasional scoff or chuckle from my close friends and family, and go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Which is fine too, I guess. All (careful what you) wish(for)ful thinking aside, I'm not sure that I have what it takes to be a Twitter Celebrity. I simply spend too much time and energy living in the real world to care that much.

...BUT if you want to advance my cause, you can tell all your friends to follow me on Twitter: @Hunter_S_Batman