A couple of weeks ago, Twitter released its top ten most retweeted tweets of 2010. (For those unfamiliar with Twitter lingo, a “retweet” is sort of like an online thumbs-up or a way of saying, “Hey, that was a funny tweet! Let me share it with my followers.”)
It comes as no surprise to find that the number one retweeted tweet of 2010 came from Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome). His tweet, from June 16, was “In honor of oil-soaked birds, ‘tweets’ are now ‘gurgles.'”
I admit, I was one of those who retweeted that one. I’m something of a Twitter addict.
Recently, I happened to catch a little snippet on a TV talk show. One of the guests commented that there were no big celebrities like there used to be. I thought it rather strange as I can probably name half a dozen without batting an eyelash, but then she went on to explain how celebrities of yore were more ethereal than they are now and I think I get what she means.
Of course, I wasn’t around during the age of Cary Grant, Grace Kelly or Katherine Hepburn, to name but a few, but I imagine they weren’t as accessible as the stars of today in this new technological age. Even celebs I used to crush on as a kid seemed out of reach. They only way we could “get to know” a favorite star back in the day was to buy an issue of Tiger Beat magazine and pore over the photos of our teen idols, or watch “Entertainment Tonight” for little snippets of information.
Then along came the Internet and the fourth wall was stripped away.
Access to celebrity gossip is just a mouse click away. Type in any star’s name, like Angelina Jolie, will bring you over 28 million sites to peruse. But it’s not just the ease of gathering information about a favorite celeb that has stripped some of the mystery away. The stars themselves have made themselves available to their fans via social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
I don’t consider myself someone who obsesses over celebrities. I’m not the kind of person who will go see a movie just because someone I like is in it. I see movies because the story looks good. I don’t google my favorite stars to see what they’re up to. I will look through my mother’s People magazine from time to time, but I don’t care about who is dating, or wearing, whom. I do admit to driving all the way to Montgomery, AL, with a friend to see “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival because one of our favorite TV stars was in it. But “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” is my favorite Shakespeare play. (Plus my friend did all the driving.) But it was just the one time. I swear, I’m not a celebrity stalker.
Until I discovered Twitter.
When I signed up for a Twitter account, the first people I followed were some of my favorite celebs. Kevin Smith, Wil Wheaton, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day. Pretty much the entire cast of “Star Trek.” It was amazing to me how I didn’t have to rely anymore on third party sources to hear news about Smith’s new movie or Wheaton’s guest appearances on “The Big Bang Theory.” I could see, firsthand, in real time, what they were up to.
Then I took a bold move and decided to tweet to them personally. Never did I think I’d receive a reply. But I did. Last February, I happened to be online at the same time as Kevin Smith. Impulsively, I shot him a question, “What are you getting the Mrs. for Valentine’s Day.” I was not expecting a response. I know celebrities rarely pay attention to their online followers. But when I checked my replies later that afternoon I was floored when I received an answer, “What every woman wants: obedience.”
The answer made me laugh. Then it made me giddy. For a moment, my thirty-something-year-old self reverted into a silly, screaming preteen who just got a glimpse of her favorite boy band. And it was a good feeling.
I didn’t let it go to my head. I’m not delusional to think that Smith and I are now BFFs (that’s best friends forever in Internet lingo). But it was fun getting a reply from someone I admire.
I do admit, I feel a little voyeuristic sometimes. Without Twitter, would I have known that Felicia Day was cooking Irish oatmeal the other morning? No. But that little peek into celebrities’ lives makes them seem more real and less out of reach. And I do find these little details fascinating.
I think Twitter has brought society closer together. I’ve “met” some interesting people from all over the world I might never have known without Twitter. I hear about breaking news before most of the major websites have it up. I get sneak peeks into parts of the entertainment industry which I never would have discovered. And I get to stalk my favorite celebrities without fear of being slapped with a restraining order.