UPDATE: See the newest, rudest reply at the bottom!
Ha! Wow! This was an interesting little experiment I did not expect to conduct on Twitter.
For a long time, I’ve been following Rainn Wilson on Twitter. You know him as Dwight from The Office, among other things. I thought it was interesting to see what he tweeted, because he was really into it and was a unique character. Lately, though, I found myself rolling my eyes every time he tweeted. I found his tweets uninteresting and not funny. In addition, he often tweets stuff from his other website, Soul Pancake, which has this spiritual let’s-find-deeper-meaning-in-life vibe that I personally find nauseating. (I’m sure Karen Armstrong would love it.)
So, I finally said to myself, “Why subject yourself to all these tweets you don’t care about?” and I unfollowed him. Also, because I’m a snarky bloke (and mostly to mock the Soul Pancake spirituality vibe), I tweeted, “I decided to stop following @rainnwilson and I’ve never felt better about life.”
And then Rainn tweeted:
And you know what? That’s a fair retort. I still like Rainn as an actor, and I meant no personal offense, and I don’t think he took it that way either. I’m certainly not offended by what he said back. If that was the end, I wouldn’t bother writing a blog post about it.
Rainn has over 1.4 million followers. Some of them are loyal. Many felt a need to reply. I was surprised at how nasty some of them were; while others were funny. A few were just retweets who thought it was funny, but let’s take a look at how some celebrity devotees respond when their idol gets a little diss.
Well, I don’t exactly feel schooled. Rainn doesn’t even know me.
This one was hilarious:
Too bad about the typo. But a good Kanye parody always works.
Some people though were a bit more vicious:
Yikes! I wonder if Rainn realizes the potential he has to draw out the wrath of some of his followers! In particular, Befralee felt it necessary to make a pretty homophobic remark. I think the past decade has shown that technology has allowed people to be a lot less censored when they write online, whether it’s cyber bullying or just really open sharing in other ways. The fact that these folks have no hesitation when it comes to attacking a person they don’t even know is slightly disturbing.
If Rainn can get that kind of reaction from his followers, it doesn’t bode well for other people. Surely the teabagger and birther movements are evidence of the power of propaganda from talking heads like Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. This small-scale example is pretty telling of how devoted people can be to celebrities, “role models,” and “idols.”
But hey, some people thought it was funny:
In addition, I’ve picked up five new followers of my own AND an old friend from high school found me through Rainn’s tweet. Welcome folks and hi Kate!
Anyway, none of this is a big deal. I’m not trying to make it a big deal. I think it’s funny, but I also think it’s slightly disturbing. Twitter is a great tool for connecting with others, but its impact isn’t always positive. Food for thought, people…
Kind of like a soul pancake! Oh wait, I don’t believe in souls.
UPDATE (9/24/09) Check this pair of tweets out!
I almost don’t feel right putting her tweets here because I have the sense she just wants attention. On the upside, at least she read my blog!