Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Blog 19 - Stalking Celebrities on Twitter and causing an argument with one.

I hate Facebook. There, I've said it. Hate the damn thing.

It's a spammy, advertisement-laden, craphole of poor ideas siezed upon by idiots. The only good thing about it is that it gives you access to a (relatively) quick messaging system with your friends which is what I use it for solely. The minus side is that you get vague acquaintainces and people you hated at school shoving up friend requests which you're too polite and mature (yes, even me) to turn down and then you have to put up with their shite updates, thrown sheep, star sign updates etc. Therefore whilst I still use Facebook because my (genuine) friends are on there, I far prefer Twitter.

Quick 140 word updates of what you're doing, thinking, watching etc. It comes into it's own when you're watching a popular TV programme because many other people will be tweeting away with you at the same time about the same thing. Basically it's like watching TV with a group of friends, albeit with Twitter, you follow who you like. So as well as following the friends I have on Twitter, I also follow various famous people. The majority are writers, journalists, and comedians simply because Twitter was first adopted by the liberal, Guardian-reading contingent and so the Charlie Brooker's, David Mitchell's and Stephen Fry's are amongst the most followed and most comfortable tweeters around but it's now becoming more mainstream. Even footballers are finding Twitter a useful medium and so the likes of Norwich's own Grant Holt and Henri Lansbury are on there, tweeting about their days.

When I first started on Twitter it became a fun game to try and get a response from a celebrity. After all, they have no reason to talk to you, they have no knowledge of who you are, and they probably get responses from hundreds of people, so to get a response is a bit of a challenge. My first response was from Euan McIntosh, the bloke who played Big Keith in The Office, who's a prolific and very friendly tweeter and I can't even remember what it was about exactly but we ended up chatting about books and recommending books for each other to read. Which is not to say I'm best mates with "Big Keith of of The Office" who undoubtedly can't remember my name now, but it's an example of the kind of chat you get into with famous people. Sometimes it's easier than others like when you get Jimmy Carr asking if anyone had seen "Inception" because he was thinking about going to see it, and I'd just seen it, so I told him that if he'd seen "The Matrix" but wished it had been a little less complicated and had a pudgy-faced quasi-Italian man-boy in, then Inception was for him. He replied with "I'll add that to the "No" pile then!". Kerry and I had a competition one day to get a reply from the sexiest celebrity possible and I won with Shannon Elizabeth sending me a lovely message, including a little "x" at the end which I take to mean that she wants me badly. Bless her, I'll have to let her down gently what with this whole marriage thing...

Anyway, to cut a long story short, after two years or so on Twitter I don't make any effort to speak to celebs any more but by virtue of the fact that I follow quite a few famous people I reply to some of the things they say naturally anyway. Sometimes they acknowledge you and sometimes they don't and I don't mind either way. Today I responded to the Quarterback of my favourite American Football team, Derek Anderson of the Arizona Cardinals and actually received a reply, which was surprising as they get thousands of responses to everything they tweet because their fanbases are so huge. It's the equivalent of getting a reply from Wayne Rooney or, more likely someone human who can actually type and play football.

The background to know (and I'll keep this as brief as possible) is that Anderson replaced a legendary quarterback who retired at the end of last season and has been a disaster. He has a reputation as being a trouble-maker and I was surprised (and to be honest a little disappointed) when the Cardinals signed him. However, as bad as he's been, the whole team has had an awful season and for my money he's no more to blame than anyone else. He's made things worse for himself by appearing on TV laughing with a teammate on the bench as we were busy losing again and being characteristically fractious with the press when questioned about it, but I think that this was a lot of media fuss over very little. Anderson has been dropped once this season for a rookie QB, and then brought back in, and following a recent injury to Anderson and his back up, another rookie named John Skelton was brought in for the last two games. He played reasonably well in the first game which we won, and average-poor in the second game which we lost to the worst team in the league. Anderson is still the number one quarterback for the Cardinals when fit but is likely to lose his job at the end of the season and the Cardinals will almost certainly bring a new player in.

Derek Anderson tweeted this morning that he was in a queue at Starbucks that was moving slow as hell. I responded with "Has Skelton gone Hollywood after 2 games and sent you out for him then?!!". I didn't expect a response at all because, as I said, they get thousands of responses to everything. What I got within a minute was "U r so funny". Cool, I thought, he's obviously a nicer bloke than the media portrays him to be if he's bothered to reply. Then he sent a second tweet "Does it make you feel clever to talk shit to people you don't even know?"

What the fuck?!! I responded to say that I wasn't taking the piss out him and was just making a joke about the rookie getting ideas above his station, and to his credit he came back to apologise for being over sensitive but that he gets so much abuse every day on Twitter that he thought I was abusing him as well at first glance. I'm guessing that my sense of humour doesn't play as well in American either which probably exacerbated things but this is by the by.

The point I wanted to make is that, if you're Derek Anderson, what the hell are you doing going on Twitter? The NFL has 32 teams, all in the same league to cover the whole of the USA. Anderson has become a bit of a joke amongst the league and so 97% of fans will support other teams and will be lining up to rub his nose in it every time he posts. And of the fans of his own team, a good percentage aren't so enamoured with him either!

I looked at some of his recent posts on Twitter (you can do that, it's very high-vis is Twitter, although you do have the ability to direct message in private and block people from viewing you if you wish), and most of the time he goes on there, he gets into an argument with someone slagging him off. In fact I didn't find one positive interaction with anybody in his recent history! Understandable then that he's defensive to bad gags by hacky British tits like me. But why does he post at all? It's perfectly possible to post on Twitter under an alias and use that for friends only, which would mean that he wouldn't get abuse, but he cracks on regardless under his own name. Is it that he wants the attention in the good times? When he throws for a touchdown in a big game does he want the "way to go" tweets from overjoyed fans so much that he's willing to be abused the rest of the time? He said to one of his critics that he only comes on Twitter for fun and jokes, but his history shows that he has precious little of this when he tweets so why not use an alias and be an anonymous nobody like the majority of us? Perhaps that's the answer. There's a mild blurring of the lines between "untouchable" celebs and the rest of us when we chat together on Twitter but the line undoubtedly remains there. I think he wants to remain on his side of the line regardless of what that means.

A lot of people go on Twitter and abuse celebrities on there, and a number of high profile people have quit Twitter as a result, some returning, some not. Stephen Fry has stopped on a few occasions only to miss it and return. I don't do that. If there's someone I don't like I just don't follow them in the first place. (Katie Price is one whose musings are something I can do without, and I doubt whether I could stop myself saying something sarky in her case). Celebrities prove on Twitter how normal they are, with mundane tales of what they're having for dinner or how the snow has made their lives hell today, and they go on Twitter to kill a few minutes, to check in with friends or chat about random stuff the same as anyone else. I understand this and I join in with them and occasionally them with me. It's a relatively cosy and fun atmosphere which is why you don't spoil it by being an arse. And another reason why I prefer Twitter to Facebook.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my friends on Facebook and Twitter, and to Derek Anderson, who I hope has a better 2011 than 2010.