11 March 2011

Who's the twit?


As if George Michael mullering True Faith wasn't enough, now we have Twitrelief. This is Twitter's innovative contribution to Comic Relief, endorsed by the many famous people who use Twitter.

In case you weren't aware, the idea is you bid a certain amount of money for a celebrity's Twitter attention and, when the auction closes, whoever has bid the most gets the prize of .... being followed on Twitter by that celeb.

I love Twitter to bits, but the major flaw it has rests with the type of famous person that uses it. There are notable exceptions, of course, but in the main celebrities use it to promote their wares and "feel the love" from their fanbase who resolutely fire tweets of praise, plus obsequious questions and comments, back at the celeb in return while also retweeting absolutely everything said famous type has said.

Rarely does a celeb offer any kind of feedback, throw any crumbs the way of their adoring public as if to show their trousertongueing has any effect or is even noticed. This is even when they ask directly for Twitter contributions. And yet many Twitter users follow lots of famous people for non-professional reasons, just in the misguided belief they are somehow "closer" to their heroes, when in fact their name is unlikely to have ever registered.

I follow about 250 people on Twitter and the vast majority I know personally or have at least had some professional dealing with. Yes, there are exceptions, but very few. The number of celebrities I quickly unfollowed in the early days when I realised it was a pointless, one-way exercise was vast.

And now we proles are being asked to bid against other tweeters for the chance to be followed on Twitter by Jamie Oliver or Miranda Hart? Yes, there are some extra incentives like signed scripts or guided tours from some of the hoi polloi in question, but ultimately it won't take your self-respecting famous type long to get bored of "just got up, might have some breakfast" tweets before quietly unfollowing you a week or so after Comic Relief has done its thing. There is no way that Davina McCall is going to regard you as either a friend or a useful contact just because you wandered around a studio with her for an afternoon.

Oh, and as one very astute person pointed out as regards the whole Twitrelief thing, if you need vacuous celebrities to point out to you via Twitter what the problems are in the world, then you're very shallow and stupid. He didn't put it quite as delicately as this, but he's right. Put a few quid in a Comic Relief tin and watch the news a bit more.

I love my buddy Steve Berry's take on it, though. Both helpful and satirical at the same time. If you want to donate money to Comic Relief in an original manner that strokes no egos, go to him.

And I realise that this is two posts in a row that scorn Comic Relief. But don't assume I'm against it. I'm all for the cause, and in the early days some of the television was compelling and very moving. But these days it's as dull as ditchwater and as much about promoting celebrity projects as it is about good causes. I'll make my own donation prior to the night and then do something else.

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