Tweet to Woe

Out in the wide, beloved cybersphere, there seems to be just a slither of controversy about celebrities buying in fake social media followers. Ooh, the abject shame of it. It’s ruffled a few feather boas, I can tell you, and several fame hoggers have been on the receiving end of allegations that they’ve bought millions of them.

Shade is being hurled, as they say in the hood – where all is currently not entirely good.

More spondoolies than sense if true, but why would the wretched souls plumb such depths? Well, there are only really two reasons that stand out in front like errant privates on parade.

Firstly, vanity. More followers equal a brighter star, and follower bragging rights garner bafflingly treasured approbation. On a tediously daily basis, you will witness high-profile Twitter spats on exactly that subject. It’s all very My Dad’s bigger than your Dad. It was painful to watch short-trousered scallies exchanging such vacuous barbs in 1978, but the sentiment extends into middle age, I must regrettably report. You cannot move for staggeringly inept no-marks unzipping their Twitter following for a sneaky comparison prior to a fulsome gloat.

Secondly, a juiced-up follower list morphs into an instant speedball to pump up a spurious and flaccid stake for greatness. If I’ve written a book (I have), and I claim to be a leader in a field (I do), then my 150 or so followers belies that claim (oh). If I have 5 million followers, it’s all more plausible. It might be time for me to invest in some Bitcoin-bedevilled bottery, then…? I’d rather back-squeeze into my hand and clap.

But that’s it, really. Seems a pram load of graft and coin just to make a fleeting impression, not to mention one that falls over with the first firm, inquisitive prod. But fame junkies don’t give half a hoot about credibility. It’s all about a 30-second money-grab in the online glass booth. This is the soft flabby underbelly of the fake follower genre – the ephemeral one-hit wonders or wannabe grandstanders who last 5 seconds before losing kudos wood in a disappointing flopper-dopper of premature emancipation.

Less voluminous are the other breed, at various grades of expertise and accomplishment. At the top of the isosceles are the ones who are truly working and milking it, tit in each hand – and each foot if they can muster enough coordination and dexterity. These reprobates understand the mechanics of the system, the tick-tock of its components at a granular level, and are tunnel-visioned on harvesting the fruits of sustainability.

This latter group are the adept social media users, and they have no truck with accumulating empty followers. They’re all about breeding audiences who will then subsequently consume whatever product is to be pushed out to the market, whether that be a book, a film, or simply a boost to ratings which in turn will generate sacks more wonga a stage or two down the line.

Mr Bot in St Petersberg won’t be buying your large print, low-intensity, tittle-tattling boyband hardback or tuning in to watch your vacuous puff-piece with an aging, soapland lothario. That calls for real mug punters.

These chaps don’t fake followers. They fake opinions, standpoints, personas, and conflicts.

They inject themselves into any given scenario and adopt a belligerent stance at one pole. An instant pantomime villain – just add nonsense.

Brexit, coronavirus, the Royal Family – you name it. Introduce a polemicised viewpoint and be particularly obnoxious in your delivery of it, and they’ll attract interest from those at that selected extreme. They’ll also attract the bile of others at the other end, but hey, the hardcore antagonists in the opposite corner play a critical role in powering the caper. The guy on centre stage can’t gain the kudos of one wing unless the other side loathes the air he breathes.

Hey presto, a malleable critical mass and an active and preferably vociferous one that rages over the issues with the main man perennially in focus. They share and like, and the whole organic moshpit froths, bubbles, and extends like flowing lava.

These chaps are engineers. They’re building machines that fart out value whichever way the wind blows. As times change, they re-invent themselves, always popping up under a fresh guise. They’re clever. And way too switched-on to burn money on a numbers-based vanity project.

And there you have it. It’s the fakery that keeps on giving. It brings sustained returns.

It’s paradoxically real.

And to know what’s really what, that is the only account you need to follow.

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