January 24, 2012

Following Celebrities (on Twitter)

This isn't some kind of crazy stalker post. No, it's all about Twitter.

As many of you know, I've been on Twitter for about three years, and while we've had our ups and downs, I love that little social networking site. I mean, I have to force myself to post stuff on Facebook, but I have to stop myself from posting my every waking thought on Twitter. I've gotten jobs through it, I've made friends through it and I've done a lot of political networking through it. The good has definitely outweighed the bad.

One of the perks of Twitter for many people is that they can follow and often interact with some of their heroes in the worlds of sports, entertainment, politics, etc. I can attest to this myself. There was the time Karl Rove and I had a conversation via Direct Message. I've been able to connect with and befriend some of my favorite writers and journalists. I even had one of my childhood crushes follow me earlier this year.

And while many of these interactions have been quite delightful, I've come to the conclusion that for some celebrities, joining Twitter is a recipe for disaster. Here's why:

1. Disappointment. I'm not going to mention any names here, but there is a comedian-turned-actor who I find to be very enjoyable. I've always thought he was amazingly talented, and obviously, he's known for his comedic skills. Unfortunately, following him on Twitter taught me that the funny runs out when there is not a script plastered in front of his pretty little face. When he started using Twitter to post a few not-so-funny one-liners each day, I groaned, but I decided everyone has a bad day. Everyone makes a bad joke. After a few days, I decided this guy must work with some damn good writers. The appeal began to dwindle quickly.

2. Drama. There's an author I've been in love with for the better part of a decade. I picked up her first book when I was in college and have read almost everything she has written since then. With the exception of one, all of her books have been fabulous, and I'm not the only one to think so. She's got quite a reputation in the literary world and even in the world of pop culture to some extent. So, when I saw that she was on Twitter, I squealed with delight and followed her immediately. At that time, she was carrying on quite excessively about something fairly meaningless, but I didn't think much of it. (If you follow me, you know I can do the same thing from time to time.) But the next week she was carrying on about something else. And the week after that, she was still doing it. Finally, it occurred to me that this woman is full-fledged drama queen. I may keep reading her books, but I'm always going to see some of her in her characters, and it's always going to annoy me.

3. Grammar. I don't expect everyone I tweet with to be perfect. Lord knows, I'm not. I understand people get passionate and type there instead of their in the heat of the moment, and I know that auto-correct can be the world's biggest pain in the ass when you're trying to spell certain words. But when someone who I have tremendous respect for is constantly throwing out sentences that look like they were typed by my dog, we're going to have a problem. I'm not expecting my favorite musician to be an English major, but there is a certain standard that adults should hold themselves to. I really don't feel comfortable supporting your career when it's probably best that you stop everything and go back to second grade to learn a thing or two before interacting with the general public again.

4. Politics and Hate. I don't begrudge anyone their political beliefs, and I'm certainly not part of the "shut up and sing" crowd, though I do feel like there is a time and a place sometimes. I'm not shy about my own political beliefs. And I try to make sure that anything I do put out there that is political is A) true or B) my pure opinion or C) not hateful or nasty. As long as others are doing that, I've got no beef with you, even if we disagree on every topic from abortion to whether or not Seal and Heidi Klum should get divorced. But I can't stand people who just randomly throw out "facts" that aren't true because they "heard it somewhere." And what I really can't stand is when someone starts badmouthing their political opponents because of something that has nothing to do with the "R" or "D" beside their name (ie. "har har, Sarah Palin's kid is a retard just like her") (yes, that's a paraphrased quote from an actor whose work I used to enjoy and who I used to follow on Twitter). Many of these celebs will try to cover up their hatefulness with the old "I'm a comedian; it was a joke." My opinion is that if you have to keep using that line, you're probably not that funny. It's hard to take your work seriously when I know you're really a small-minded buffoon who can't handle people who are different from you.

5. Overall stupidity. I think this one speaks for itself. If you have an ounce of intelligence yourself, you can spot the dumb ones from one or two tweets. Kind of sad to realize your favorite 40-year-old leading lady is not so "like totally awesome and stuff" because she tweets like a fourteen year old.

6. Ego. Obviously, egos are huge when it comes to being famous, so this one may not come as much of a surprise. There's a musician who I think is just one of the most talented people on the face of the earth. In most circles, he's really not that famous, and he's especially not as famous as he once was. If I mentioned his name here, most of you would have no idea who he is. He's been on Twitter for a while, and I don't even think he has as many followers as I do. But to read his tweets, you'd think you he was Brad freaking Pitt, though I'm sure Brad Pitt is a bit more practiced at at least pretending to be humble. This guy thinks the sun sets and rises only for him. He thinks everything he says is hilarious. His tweets are pretentious, and he loves him some him. This hasn't prevented me from listening to his music, but I've definitely dialed back my fandom.

7. Oversharing. Finally, there are some "famous" people who treat Twitter as if they are at the world's biggest slumber party. They tweet their other "famous" friends and make cutesy inside jokes. This might fly if you've got, say, Sandra Bullock tweeting George Clooney (note: I'm not even sure if these people are on Twitter, just making a point). People will eat that stuff up. But when your claim to fame is you are one of the supporting actors on that show that comes on ABC on Wednesday nights, you know the one that came on last year on Tuesday nights and will most likely be canceled by next year, and you are tweeting one of the writers for that show on NBC that no one watches and will most likely get canceled by next year, most of us don't care that you two are just too cool for the rest of us. And we all know that within hours the two of you will be sitting in whatever the Los Angeles equivalent of the Waffle House is and you can just as easily say all of that out loud. In person. I mean, most people are only following you because the star of the show that's on after your crap show tweeted you one day. I'd guess this was some kind of PR stunt if these people were actually famous enough to to require that sort of PR. Otherwise, I'm assuming it's just proof that you think you're a lot more adorable than you are.

I guess, in a way, this is all good. It reminds us not to look up to people who we don't actually know, at least not beyond admiring their talents. But I can't lie; there are some days that I wish I'd never witnessed any of this. I was perfectly happy imagining the guy in example six was just as sweet as his voice and his ability to play his instrument and the woman in example two was just a cool chick with the ability to put together an attention-grabbing story.

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