Celebs in public and on twitter, how will it end?

Happy dogs on leashes at intelligentsiaThis morning I went to Intelligentsia to grab some espresso, which if you follow me on twitter you know is part of my daily routine. When I got there I noticed that a guy at the counter had a cute dog with him, and since my wife Tara has a thing for cute dogs in coffee shops I snapped a photo for her and quickly posted it to flickr. As the pic was sending I looked back up from my iPhone and saw the guy with the dog looking at me, he looked disappointed, but also vaguely familiar. As he put on his sunglasses and walked out I realized he was famous and probably thought I was taking a photo of him. I felt like an ass, but it was too late. I told a friend I was with about my faux pas and he, not being from LA, pointed out that in any other city the guy would have been mobbed for autographs and I shouldn’t feel too bad about it. It’s a good point, and one of the things I love about LA, but I still felt like a dick.

Skip ahead a few hours and Tara points me to a virtual throwdown happening on twitter between Ashton Kutcher and Perez Hilton. Not so much because of what they were saying, but because of how people were reacting and how she thought they might keep on reacting. She tweeted about it and said “I really hope that Twitter is still accessible to real people conversing and not just watching Celebs chat with each other.” Her fear, and a very valid one, is that suddenly her stream would be filled with normal people @replying to celebs trying to become “friends” with them, rather than just being themselves and talking to their real friends. If you want to see what I mean, just look at how many people are replying to Ashton or Demi. Soleil Moon Frye only joined twitter 13 hours ago and look at this!. This got me thinking about how that relates to my coffee shop experience earlier in the day.

@moonfrye follow me please ...

Of course these aren’t the first notable folks to join twitter, just an example from today, but as the site continues to grow this will happen again and again. Maybe to some people an @reply or follow by a celeb is like a virtual autograph. In some parts of the world people will climb over their mother to fight for the autograph of someone famous, while in others people feel bad for even giving the impression of gawking. LA is kinda like a safe haven, for the most part celebrities can roam in public unmolested but the internet is the wild west. One of the reasons so many of us like twitter is it’s kind of a little safe haven online – we can talk to our friends and see what they are up to and the rest of the web doesn’t get in the way. But what happens when it does? What will happen when thousands upon thousands of people who have never been anywhere near someone of moderate fame are suddenly a simple @ away from them? Instead of logging in and seeing what my friends are up to today, will I only see them acting like dickholes trying to get the attention of some celebrity? Maybe. Maybe not.

Tara briefly thought it was the beginning of the end,but Wil responded noting “@tara I don’t think it’s zero-sum. The gawkers will soon get bored and leave, but even while they’re here the rest of us can still keep on.” I tend to agree, I think as more and more people start using twitter (and other social networks) some of those people are bound to be famous and some of those people are bound to be attention seeking idiots. Our own experience with all of them will rely on what we pay attention to, and in the same way I can read a magazine without reading one that tells me which starlettes are in/out of rehab today, we should all be able to continue using these sites without too much cruft. But what about looking at this from the other direction? Soleil seems genuinely excited about twitter and is probably going through the same thing many of us did when we realized the whole new world of interaction it enables. How will that be effected when she can’t see replies from her actual friends because she’s getting 100 replies a second from people she doesn’t know begging her to follow them? Or does that even matter, maybe it’s just one more thing to list on the cost of fame.

Regardless, it’ll be interesting to watch and here’s to hoping the hysteria is brief.

18 thoughts on “Celebs in public and on twitter, how will it end?”

  1. Perez, Ashton & Demi STFU! Gawkers GTFO!

    No, seriously, there are celebrities who use Twitter well and some who don’t. From what I can tell John Cleese is really John Cleese ( not a paid staff person ), at his desk reading @’s and responding. I don’t follow Data and Jordie from Star Trek, but from what I have heard they are engaging people/fans on Twitter in a good way, connecting, having fun.

    However unlikely, If I find that someone I follow starts sending a bunch of @’s to a celebrity, especially at a high volume, they’ll be getting a qwitter message referencing me soon.

    Also, never under estimate the power of a fake celebrity Twitter account to reek havoc, induce tears and generally turn some celeb off of Twitter.


  2. I get the feeling the celeb followers won’t soon go away as much as the celebs, mainly for the reasons you explain above. But I also feel like many celebs will flock to Twitter, as many already have, in a lame attempt to gain some street cred with their fans. This wouldn’t and shouldn’t bother me since I don’t follow many celebs, but seeing people I do know retweeting benign crap, just because it comes from a celeb, is really annoying. Not as annoying as people who use Twitter mainly to namedrop and brag about themselves, but close.

    (third place for most annoying type of tweet, btw: sports play by plays)

  3. Just a brief note on that, it should be clear that in the same way Wil isn’t Wesley, that’s just a character he played for a while on TV. Levar and Brent are not Jordie and Data, those were simply roles they played. Keeping the two separate is important to what I’m saying in this post because a medium like twitter helps you know someone in a very different way than you might otherwise so these real people shouldn’t be boiled down to a job they once had.

  4. Yeesh. Talk about not liking an actor because of a character. My mother was never a fan of Jerry Orbach because his character didnt actually apologize to Johnny at the end of “Dirty Dancing”. He did the whole “When Im wrong, I say Im wrong” thing, but never actually apologized. I never understood that. It also ticks me off because she brings it up every damn time we watch it.
    My Celebrity twitter followings are pretty much the Star Trek crowd. Its Wil Wheatons fault Im on the damn thing in the first place =D. Havent found anyone else all that interesting enough.

  5. I follow a 22 people and even fewer follow me. For me Twitter is a way to keep up with what people I’ve met and respect are up to. Since I never see anyone in person it’s a nice way to know whats up in their lives.

  6. I have noticed the annoying habit of people kissing up to celebs on twitter. It’s super annoying and ruins a perfectly good stream of witty narratives.

  7. It’s funny but when I think of celebrities on twitter I think you
    @seanbonner and @tara.

    So why don’t you follow meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

  8. If I were a celebrity I would probably love Twitter especially If I’m not a total idiot and I’m loved by the majority. Look at Soleil Moon Frye – she posts a pic of her kids and everyone responds with how they are the most amazing children since Prince William and Henry. It could be short lived when she gets crazy stalker people responding to her all the time and she starts to get scared for herself and her kids. In addition, if I am a celebrity with a lot of controversy surrounding me, and I get a lot of hate replies of the bat, then I probably won’t want to spend a lot of time on Twitter. I can only imagine the wars that would erupt with a bunch of sports players on it.

  9. I’m confused, so perhaps I’m misunderstanding what you guys are talking about. I don’t have this problem as I’ve got my Twitter settings to only show me @ replies to/from people who I actually follow. If I follow a silly friend who then sends a bunch of stalking celebrity @ replies to Soleil Moon Frye, I’m not going to see those tweets unless I also follow Soleil Moon Frye. Are you guys just seeing all these incoming tweets to people you don’t follow? That would drive me insane and make Twitter impossible to keep up with! Why not just turn them off? If you turn off the @ replies for people you’re not following you’ll never have to see your friends getting all stupid over celebrities again… and you won’t miss any conversations meant to include you or other people you follow.

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