Science & Nature Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise
Yesterday I finally gave in to the what I perceived as the most pathetic ‘net trend around.
It wasn’t entry to a complicated Facebook relationship. I didn’t post self-taken photos from an above/right angle on my MySpace. My AIM away messages aren’t currently littered with coded messages expressing angst, sadness or other emotions too deep to make so readily public.
I did, however, finally attempt to direct tweet someone famous.
It wasn’t even someone that famous. How many people on street know who Jozy Altidore is? He’s nowhere near the most famous individual in his given field. He’s not even the most famous individual within his given organization.
Altidore is a near twentysomething striker on the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. The most noteworthy thing he’s done was execute a perfect turn and finish against Spain in the Confederations Cup this summer. (Come to think of it, how many folks know what the Confederations Cup is?)
Altidore recently made some big strides within the soccer community. The U.S. National Team had their best finish in a FIFA-sponsored tournament at the Confederations Cup. Altidore became the team’s starting striker for the first time during that tournament.
This past week he was loaned to Hull City, a professional club in the most revered soccer league in the world (the EPL). This coming Wednesday, the U.S. squad has its biggest match since the Confederations Cup with a World Cup Qualifier against rival Mexico. The match is being played in Mexico where the U.S. has never won in a qualifying match.
All that big news got me excited. As a fan of Altidore, I wanted to see him receive some mainstream notoriety for all the work he’s been doing. I figured ESPN’s Bill Simmons was a natural outlet for him to get some press because 1) Simmons is getting progressively hotter for soccer 2) he’s on record saying Altidore was the person he was most excited to meet at the ESPYs 3) he embraces new media (podcasting and Twitter) very strongly.
Idiot me needed to make that thought process public.
Shockingly, neither Altidore nor Simmons responded to that.
I know Twitter has endless potential because of the immediate dissemination of news/opinions, but celebrity access is another huge reason it’s caught on so strongly. Unlike any other form of social media currently out there (that I’m aware of at least), Twitter gives any user the ability to choose access to a celebrity without any barriers to entry.
On Facebook and MySpace, friends need to have their requests accepted before access is granted. Through e-mail, phone or traditional letters you can send a message in but there is no guarantee of ever having a glimpse of celebrity in return (plus, secretaries/handlers and other folks usually address these). Official web sites, DVDs, columns, etc. – it’s all great insight into people you admire but it’s not personal.
Twitter gives us the perfect illusion. We get glimpses of celebrity in a pseudo personal way (their tweets show up on your profile) and we have access without restrictions. You don’t need approval to follow someone, you don’t need approval to message someone. Whenever someone tweets (both @you and in general) it shows up somewhere on your profile – your main page if you follow them in return, your @page if you don’t. Your message is guaranteed to be there no matter who you’re sending it to.
However, Twitter is just like every other form of communication in this sense: If a complete stranger calls, IMs, Wallposts, writes, e-mails or tweets you… do you really read it even if it’s physically there for you to see? Just because celebrities themselves are embracing Twitter and directly communicating with you doesn’t mean they’ll ever directly listen when you communicate back. The tweet I sent above is just as ridiculous as the college kid who posts “good game” on the wall of the basketball team’s star player each week. In fact, the tweet is even worse. On Facebook star athletes have to at least accept a fan’s friendship.
I’d like to say my days of trying to direct tweet are done, but I know someday it’ll be too convenient and too tempting to pass up. I’ll continue to make fun of friends that try messaging Diddy or low-level athletes despite my inevitable urge. After all, it’s ludicrous to think any one of these stars would take a moment to reply to some noname stranger publicly via Twitter. I just need to realize that I’m one of those folks just like the friends I ridicule and I should resist the temptation despite any slim chance I could be different.
(Links today from ESPN.com, World Soccer Podcast, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia)
E-mail me your thoughts… or go ahead. Direct tweet them @natefromcuse.