Celebrity Is As Celebrity Does

By now, I am sure you have heard of the Ashton Kutcher vs. CNN Twitter War, the race to be the first user with one million followers, and the subsequent backlash in the Twitterverse over their tactics… plus other celebrities like Oprah jumping on the bandwagon and making it feel well past jumping the shark – it’s landed on the back of Moby Dick and we’re in for a hell of a ride.

I am trying to muddle through whether this is good or bad.

As I mentioned to Dave Taylor below, it’s been interesting watching the wave of users come on Twitter in the last 6 months. [HI! IT’S ABOUT TIME, YO’S] These celebrities give us an intimate look at their lives, sure. BUT are they really relevant and interesting to ME? To my life? Are they “good” at Twitter? Or do they just spew fragmented sentences with bad punctuation and photos of Demi Moore’s ass?

Is celebrity of value all by itself? It depends on what you are looking for on Twitter. My friend Leaanthro is looking for two-way conversation. She talks about wanting more than just random tweets from a hot famous dude with a hot famous wife and a slew of shitty movies (ONE exception: The Butterfly Effect).

I tend to agree with her, although I really don’t expect celebrities of their fame level to see my silly name and my silly tweets and think “hell yeah, I am gonna tap into some of THAT shit.” Nor should they feel compelled to do anything other than what THEY want to do. I wrote before in my “Twitter Manifesto” [which someone on Twitter said “sounded communist” – a major highlight of my online life, by the way] that people should run their Twitter lives as they see fit. But, I also admit there are very few people I follow on Twitter who don’t follow me back. Plain and simple, I like to be either entertained or educated if I am not building a relationship.

I am neither educated nor entertained by Ashton Kutcher.

But so what? He’s an annoying douche looking for free PR in exchange for a mere 10,000 malaria nets. Clearly he’s a smart annoying douche. I checked out his Twitter feed for about 2 days, then unfollowed. Period.

But, what is more interesting is the big picture. The noise. Brian Shaler and I had an amusing DM chat one night trying to figure out who the hell half the trending topics were, because when it wasn’t #SteveJobs or #failwhale we were lost in sea of confusion. The face of Twitter is changing with all these new people and us old nerds are clearly uncomfortable with it. Hell yeah, it annoys me that Oprah was treated like royalty as she deigned to join Twitter, IN ALL CAPS NO LESS, and we were all supposed to spread like the Red Sea to get out of her way. But in general, Oprah at least does some good with her fame. Maybe her entrance will do some good as well.

As usual, no one sums it up better than my husband. We were talking about this over lunch on Friday and I recorded him into my iPhone. Because I am a nerdy early adopter who jumped on Twitter 2 years ago and stood in line TWICE to have the iPhone on the 1st day. And I also am a graphic designer with the slight oddity of a psychology minor, so I like to sit back and watch the world swirl around and see what happens. What a crazy fucking world.

This article has 35 comments

  1. Meghann

    It will probably be like everything else that starts to suck when it goes mainstream. Sigh. I just tried to log on and couldn’t, so there ya go.

  2. Jessica

    I’m actually pretty excited about things going mainstream so that I don’t have to explain what Twitter is as much.
    With that said, I think that this is the opportunity for celebrities to do good with it. They’re already famous, why not leverage that to do good.

    I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my social media fantasy campaign for Oprah and what I would do if I was given the reigns.

    Check out the post here…

  3. Katja

    Great post!
    It will be interesting to hear how these celebs will add to the conversation – especially when they don’t even follow anyone.

    And I luv the fact that you recorded what your husband said. (Hm, and now I need to figure out how I can do that too…)

  4. Rachel

    It has been really interesting watching the influx of new people and all of the “follow me” “help me reach my goal” and then this whole Oprah thing.. ugh.

    Oh well. 😉

    Great post!

  5. Leighann

    So good to hear your laugh!!!

    What a great summary of the issue. And I remember reading your manifesto (way back before it was cool to be on Twitter).

    I know…when I saw Oprah typing in all caps, I rolled my eyes. So lame.

    I agree with everyone who says to use Twitter as it is relevant to them. But I just don’t see why people should follow celebs who claim the want a “conversation” and then not follow anyone back (except their celeb friends who also follow a few dozen people).

    Not that celebs really care what I have to say. But when people like Guy Kawasaki and Scott Monty respond to my questions, I really appreciate it.

  6. zipper

    LOVED this – especially the recording.

  7. Lotta

    Agreed on Ashton Kutcher.

  8. anji

    you say in your post, “there are very very very few people I follow on Twitter who don’t follow me back. Plain and simple, I like to be either entertained or educated if I am not building a relationship.” that sounds VERY conceited considering the fact that you have 1596 people as of this reply who follow you that you don’t bother to follow back. i guess they are not worth it to you. i believe you should definitely only follow who you choose to, but to then rub into the faces of the nearly 1600 people who follow you that you don’t follow back the fact that you are for the most part ABOVE doing such a thing is extremely condescending. i will definitely be unfollowing you now that i know you feel that way about people who don’t follow YOU back.

    as for ashton kutcher and his “mere
    10,000 malaria nets,” are you giving $100,000 of your own money (and your spouse an additional $200,000 of their money) to save the lives of children in africa? or to save anyone’s lives? not to mention the countless other donations that are now being made to the cause because of kutcher’s actions? lives WILL be saved by those nets. a “mere” 10,000 nets WILL save countless lives. are those lives, by extension of your statement, “mere” lives?

    ashton kutcher had over 850,000 followers before this friendly “contest” for charity. he didn’t ASK for THOSE followers. those people chose to follow him because he is an active and in many people’s view interesting twitter member who shares quite a bit of content, including twitpics, qikvids, livestreams and lots of @ replies in addition to his regular tweets. he didn’t NEED more followers, nor did he WANT the followers for selfish reasons. he wanted to use twitter to do good, and he did do good, and he convinced others (including cnn) to do good, as well. he is a very involved member of the twitter community and has been for some time.

    i’ve been on twitter for two years, like you have, and will definitely be unfollowing you now that i know how intolerant you are of people who don’t follow YOU back. your statement isn’t very kind to the many, like myself, who have long followed you despite the lack of a return follow. and to dismiss a $100,000 donation to a charity and actions that also resulted in at least another $500,000 in donations to save lives of children is condescending, small, and another reason to unfollow you. as an african american (now) former reader of your blog, your dismissiveness of a donation that will save countless african lives is truly disappointing to read.

  9. Neil

    Wow, it didn’t take long for someone to find you and attack you! If the publicity stunt was really about mosquito nets, we would all be talking about the terrible situation and the malaria. But since we are all talking mostly about Twitter and Ashton Kutcher, I would say the it was a failed gimmick, despite the donation.

  10. Alison

    Someone I follow retweeted Ashton Kutcher’s plea for 1 million followers for the mosquito nets. So I followed him. I only realized later that he was in a competition with CNN. And as soon as he had his million, I tried to unfollow him, without any luck. Of course, that was Oprah Day on Twitter, so I figured it was a glitch, and I was right.

    Phew. But yeah, talk about jumping the shark. I’m still not sure I’m going to keep up with Twitter. It’s great for local networking, but I use it on a more personal level than a lot of folks (hence my protected updates) and it seems that some folks are just in it for all the followers. Whatever.

    I’m also tired of trying to explain what Twitter is to people. “If you have to ask…” — but that’s snotty of me, right?

    This is long and disjointed, probably because I’m still thinking about my Twitter use and what it all means. #herebeforeoprah

  11. SCTom

    sad sad anji. oh but how you have fallen into the trap of twitter turn tmz. it’s certainly great that AK donated some money all under the guise of “raising awareness” for a charity. dude makes millions and you are so attached to his altar that you fail to realize that it’s like him going to vegas for the weekend. nor do you get greeble’s pt. nothing more than a publicity stunt from a guy who lives to make stunts. im sure aim will rest easy knowing that you will no longer be following her. you can replace her on your list of followers with kim kardashian or ryan seacrest. i’m sure you will get more out of that. after all, twitter is what you make it (something you would have heard greeble say before if you actually paid attention to what she was saying).

  12. jenB

    He could have just donated the money and let us do our social media sex dance in peace. Jebus H. Oprah too. You do good things in a million other places. STAY there! Social media, rather twitter, does not need celebs who are doing PR stunts. I am all for celebs or whoever to participate as long as they participate. My million followers are in my head and at least 995,oo are you. Love you Aimee, great post. No reaming.

  13. jennyonthespot

    I’ve been sitting on the top bleacher for much of this Twitter competition with those big names.


    And that one reaming…

    Also nuts.

    I’m with you. I want a relationship… shipS… I am following Ellen, just cuz I think I can win her over.

    Aaaaan also nuts.

    Anyway. You go girl. Preach it. 😉

  14. Mommy Melee

    Ashton could have donated that stuff without making a big deal out of it on Twitter. He could continue, every day of his life, to save lives. It wouldn’t put a dent in his lifestyle.

    To me, that’s what it all comes down to.

    He’s sort of an asshat.

  15. mellafabulous

    You followed Ashton Kutcher longer than I could. I couldn’t even bring myself to click the follow button.

  16. Amy

    Just came over from Twitter, at your request, to ream your ass. I don’t know if you follow me @prettybabies or not, because I can’t remember how to find that page where you find out….

    Oh hai, just found it! You don’t follow me. LOL.

    But consider your ass reamed, lady, because um… Yeah. And Ashton is SOOO HOT OMG, and what have you done for AFRICA lately, and you MUST be a racist because you’re not worried about those MERE lives, and you spell Amy wrong. And you probably hate LOLCats too. Bitch.

    (Totally kidding – don’t care if you follow me as long as you read my blog – you do read my blog, right? And Kutcher is a total tool. And Africa, well, Africa’s a fucking mess, but I don’t think Kutcher is the problem solver, ya know? Did you see him on Larry King? What douchebaggery. Ugh.)

    ((You do spell Amy wrong, though, seriously)).

    I think I need to go to bed. Seriously. This is way more than 140 characters for one thing… And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make any sense.

  17. Mary Lynn

    I actually hadn’t hear the charity angle of the competition before. That actually makes me a little less dismissive of the whole Ashton versus CNN stunt. At least some good came out of it.

    Obviously people took your “if I follow people they follow me back” comment the wrong way. What I read from that is that you are selective in who you follow, which I can totally understand. It boggles my mind how many people follow me that–when I look at who they are, where they live, and what they tweet about–seem to have nothing in common with me. Most of the time I figure these people either want to sell me something, or they just want to be followed by everyone and they don’t actually read anyone else’s tweets. I’m not a well-known blogger so it’s easy for me to follow anyone back that I think is following me out of a genuine interest in what I have to say.

    For you, though, I suspect it is harder…you probably accumulate more genuine followers than you can keep up with. The larger your fan base the greater the chance that there will be people who are genuinely interested in you who will be disappointed when you don’t follow back.

    The thing about Twitter that’s unfortunate (and actually, it extends to the blogosphere in general) is that it ends up being a bit of a popularity contest. When I first started blogging it was very easy to get caught up the numbers…how many hits did I have today? How many comments? Likewise, on Twitter it’s easy for people to get caught up on the number of followers they accumulate. I find the longer I blog the less I care about the numbers, and the more I care about the relationships I build.

    Here’s the thing about the building of relationships in the blogosphere. I find that in any given moment, depending on what’s going on in the rest of my life, sometimes I am able to expand on the number of online relationships I have, and sometimes I’m not. So yeah–sometimes I follow people back, and sometimes I am just too busy with work, family, social life, whatever, to be able to add one more person to the list, no matter what they tweet. I don’t know how anyone can follow hundreds of people and get anything meaningful from it. For me, that would be just too much, and too time-consuming.

    So I follow you but you don’t follow me. Does that disappoint me? Well sure, a bit…I think you’re an interesting person and it’s always nice to feel that thoughts like that are reciprocated. But then I look at the number of people you are already connected to on Twitter and I realize that you are one busy woman. It’s not something to be taken personally.

    As for the whole celebrity thing, well, it’s just not the sort of twitter chatter that interests me. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to ruin Twitter.

    Magpie is another matter…that’s something I think could ruin the Twitter experience.

  18. Aimee Greeblemonkey


    I’d like to address a few of your issues, however I am clearly not going to change your mind.

    First, I do realize more people follow me on Twitter than I follow back. It has jumped dramatically in the past year as a vast number of marketers, realtors, and others have jumped on Twitter. I have written several times about my struggle to balance family, work and this blog and I am truly sorry that I am missing some awesome people to follow in that group.

    And as I mentioned in the post when I called my tweets “silly,” I have no idea why anyone would want to listen to my ramblings at all, but I do appreciate it.

    Secondly. Regarding my “mere” comment. When you look at the power, scope and affluence of someone like Ashton Kutcher – yes, $100,000 is absolutely “mere.” He has received much much much more than that in press coverage on this alone.

    I hate having to toot my own horn, but if you really were a long time reader of this blog, you would know that I continually give up sidebar space for causes I believe in – including the ONE campaign to combat poverty. Right this very minute I am in the middle of raising money for Earth Day through a kid art auction. I just volunteered with another blogger to support Quaker’s food drive for the hungry.

    But am I going to raise the kind of money he has? Of course not. That is my point. Big people need to step up in a big way, especially when they have extra powerful money and influence behind them.


  19. Ali

    see…i just don’t like that twitter is getting all this publicity BECAUSE of the celebrities on it. twitter was so great before all this celeb business. i echo what meghann said…it’s probably doing to be one of those things that will start to suck because it’s gone mainstream…

  20. Megan

    Loved this post. And Anji can go you know what. Do what you want to with Twitter and so will everyone else.

  21. Leighann

    Great comments on your post.

    The “doosie” was pretty entertaining to read. And I think a lot of us have raised money for the causes that are dear to us, but have done so on the scale that is appropriate for our own incomes.

    And you are right…it is all relative and for a big movie star, a few mosquito nets are not enough. He could have done more to raise awareness of the issue and could have even set up a way for people to donate a net or two themselves.

    Here’s a big difference between his mosquito nets and how the rest of us real people on Twitter and on blogs act for causes we believe in: We do what we can and we do it with heart. Anyone coming in from the outside to see the recent (and continuing) outpouring in honor of Maddie (and now Thalon), would see the value of Twitter and how it goes way beyond the popularity contest of some celebrity.

    Do I follow some people just for entertainment? Of course. But they tend not to be people who are begging the commoners to get them to 1 mil for shameless self promotion.

  22. Miss Britt

    I really hope those of us who have been using Twitter for a while don’t let celebrities run us off.

  23. chloebear

    Well, a comment has been brewing in my head all morning long….I don’t think the reaming you received is appropriate. I have known you for quite some time and anyone who knows you on a personal level knows you strive to be extremely thoughtful in your posts. You have always been extremely kind and patient with me, helping me step into this “techy” world. That being said, I know where your post was coming from and I sincerely believe you meant no disrespect. AK did do some good and his celebrity status combined with the people he knows did buy those much needed mosquito nets. Could he have donated more -yeah problably…we should all remember that we give what we can for things we care about…and should not discredit anyone for the amount they give.
    Follow or not follow celebrities if you want, follow whoever floats your boat.
    I follow you because you mean something to me… and I understand your humor. That’s it.

  24. Anonymous

    wow. interesting how this post has turned around to be bashing YOU. – m

  25. well read hostess

    The sum total of my Twitter knowledge comes from you, dear one. Keep it up, so I don’t look like (more of) a moron in public.

  26. Burgh Baby

    My personal “rules” about who I follow change constantly, but essentially if someone is using twitter for self-promotion 90% of the time (or more), I’m out. I would rather read about mundane details of someone’s life than see link after link to their site. And yet, I find mundane details from Ashton Kutcher to be no more interesting than mundane details from, say, you. In fact, I’d rather read your mundane details because at least are contained in sentences that make some sense.

  27. Jessica D. South

    I have to agree with you that twitter should be what each person makes of it for themself – that’s the beauty of twitter. And while I feel the technical difficulties caused by going mainstream are annoying, I hope they will be worked out in time. I don’t think trying to keep any one group off would be fair or good in the long run – the more choices of tweets to follow the more personalized twitter can be for each of us.

    Personally, I’m all for celebs on twitter – though I take my role in customizing my twitter experience even more seriously when dealing with celebs. I’m following a handful (some are even following me back, but very few). My personal criteria is that I follow celebs if they are people I already admired (for their talent or activism) or if their tweets amuse or inspire me.

    The number of followers & following they have are the last thing I look at when following someone. I especially don’t expect celebs to follow me back or reply to me (though when they do it does say a lot about their character and why they’re on twitter).

    In fact, I’m even all for fake celebs to a degree. There have been some that really had great tweets (not just amusing, but inspirational or with great replies or ideas). I have been really sorry to see some of these accounts disabled. Though I can see if from the real celeb’s point of view – especially given what some of the fakes have posted.

    I guess I feel it’s each person’s responsiblity to weight the credibility of everyone on twitter before following them (or not), and to create their own twitter experience. No celeb stunts or even shameless spamming (those who follow people & when you check them out they only have one post with some stupid telemarketing offer – that I do hate that, but deal with it by simply blocking the person) would cause me to abandon something that still allows me to converse with friends and other interesting people.

    I would hope people have more motivation and stamina for the benefits of this medium than to let a few annoying twitter users run them off. If not, maybe they weren’t right for twitter themselves.

    And for the record, I’ve never been a fan of Ashton’s; I agree that it was most likely motivated primarily by the free PR aspect, but if something good comes of it – I’m fine with it and glad it happened; but I’m still not following Ashton =0) – a little more impressed with him though since he chose to do something truly helpful to get his PR. I’m actually a very Machiavellian person – the end justifies the means, especially when it saves lives. His good PR & inflated numbers are a small price to pay for even one life.

    Just my take on twitter & celeb agendas. Enjoyed your post & your tweets.

  28. L

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Ingrid Alongi

    Nice post. I think it’s interesting as an early adopter, I feel some ownership and territorialistic attitude about twitter and how can these people just waltz in when I work hard just to get my almost 1000 quality follower??? 🙂

  30. NaysWay

    I hate Oprah. I am now officially a Shaq fan. Not following him on Twitter though… celeb Twitterers (Twitters? Twits? Twats?) are killer whale jumping. Screw the shark.

  31. Piper


    I think Ashton is a pompous douche bag, period. He wants attention, which is not news concerning any celebrity, but this has just been vulgar. Mosquito nets was just an excuse for his bored/famous/rich ass to feel permissed to launch an online ego stroke. He’s obnoxious and uninteresting, at best.

    I’ve been on twitter for two years as well, but the noise of this blatant BULLSHIT has pretty much made twitter feel vile to me.

    Regarding follower #’s, all I have to say is WHO FUCKING CARES!? Seriously, there ARE actually more important things to think about. No one actually gives a shit what Ashton (or the majority of all twitterbugs) tweets.

    I love how you dug in and went for it with this post. You are a credit to the blogosphere (duh) and a highly redeeming entity which makes me hate twitter much less today. One day I will heart twitter again, and I’ll thank you for it. Hell, I’ll thank you now.

    Thanks toots!

  32. GeekMommy

    My 100 degree fever is NOT the reason I love this post so! It is the reason I’m not putting up a lengthy comment… But I just had to say you hit the nail squarely on the head awesome lady!

  33. Anonymous

    love this post.

  34. Sarah K

    my favorite part of the whole thing is where you called Ashton an annoying douche. lmao.

  35. Allison

    Brave -and fun- post.

Comments are now closed.
Send this to a friend