Monday, March 2, 2009

The conundrum of the celebrity Twitterer

The Ed Techie: Celebrity twitter doesn't matter:
"My beef with the celebritisation (that's not a word is it?) of Twitter is twofold: Firstly, I think if you're signing up for twitter to follow celebrities, you'll miss the point of it. A conversation with a celebrity is not a normal conversation. It is unequal, and this skews the conversation. But if that's what people want from their use of it, that's fine."

Totally agree with Martin (although thinking about it, our reaction isn't exactly 100% logical since there may well be other people I follow who I don't expect a reply from). It's something I've been mulling about for a while since the explosion of Twitter-celebs and the general oddness of seeing someone you 'know' (either solely online or a combination of online / face-to-face) sending messages to people you know they don't know. The internet has always felt like a pretty democratic place. I can't see you. You can't see me. Stripped of other cues we communicate only through the power of what we have or haven't got to say. But then, along comes a medium in which things start shifting - celebs on Twitter. I can see the attraction, in some ways of watching a celeb's life float by - they're supposed to be living a more interesting life than us, right? But why bother sending a reply to them when the odds of them actually replying are many thousands to one? Is it for the thrill that you're reaching into their world? For the pleasure of making contact with the otherwise uncontactable?

Comments on a blog invite conversation. Discussion forums invite conversation. Twitter invites conversation. It's not cyber-stalking made easy, is it? I generally follow people who have decided they want to follow me on Twitter. I don't mind following organisations who I'm interested in. I expect them to be broadcast only. I don't mind following people in the same field - at least following them is relevant to me. If I reply to them, they may or may not reply, but it doesn't really matter because professionally what I'm getting is kinda useful. Replying to a celebrity. Hmmm. That's a whole host of oddness right there that I don't really get.

Half-formed thoughts on this one only from me. I guess this was my long-winded way of expanding the question which pootles through my mind when I see an @StephenFry message from one of his quarter of a million followers and internally ask of them, 'why are you bothering?'
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