Twitter is a rather frightening tool/phenomenon. I joined it a while back as sort of a place to throw random ideas and notions–the more surreal the better–and didn’t think much of it. But then the big boys moved into town. Stephen Fry is now God Emperor of Twitter and currently has over 180,000 people. Or at least he did when I started writing this, he’s probably broken a quarter of a million by now. Jonathan Ross arrived on the scene and became the clearinghouse for fake celebs–telling everyone who was real just by, you know, calling them at home and such. Neil Gaiman has been sucked into the world of Twitter and got to share his whirlwind experience of promoting a successful film and winning a Newbery at the same time–and for everyone who follows him, it was a day like any other day except we were there. Graham Linehan, head burrito of The IT Crowd, and Andy Diggle, who if there was a God would be writing The Authority right now, pop on when they feel like gaming and invite whoever to join them. And Phill Jupitus appears to be having so much fun with Twitter it should be illegal.
And now, Linehan has spawned @BadMovieClub, with a screening of The Happening taking place at 9pm GMT tonight and everyone participating using the #BadMovieClub tag. Then Phill declared a second showing at midnight GMT. Then @katoi, who is brighter than I, snagged badmovieclub.co.uk. Then @lauriepink created the unofficial official Bad Movie Club t-shirt. Which is not in black, so WTF, laurie. I mean bravo and all that but help me out here.
It is freaking fantastic to watch, in other words. Do you see what is happening here? We can now create the equivalent of flash events on the fly wherever and entertain each other without having to really do anything.
[ad#longpost]Linehan has said it best in running down his own thoughts on the magic of Twitter: but some other observations. First of all, how many people who have never had the opportunity to interact with some of these celebrities (and you can quickly discover that they’re just cool fun people) are now doing so and feel more connected to them than perhaps they actually are? Seriously–you know deep down in your heart that your brief encounter with somebody at a signing is going to be in your memory a lot longer than it is theirs. But still that’s there. And you remember how cool they were (if they were cool–not always guaranteed). And you tell other people about it. And soon they get a reputation for being incredibly cool. Is one of the reasons I try to promote Neil’s stuff as much as I do because I thought it was really cool when he remembered me from Atlanta when I saw him again in San Diego? Well, I was already doing it anyway but I’m sure that didn’t hurt things.
But seriously, how many people are going to be introduced to Phill by this? Or seek out more IT Crowd because of this? How many people feel connected to Neil by reading about his recent exhilarating adventures (some of which include carrying around a very large dog)? And I don’t necessarily think they all are thinking that way–I know they’re probably not because it’s just not in the “spirit” of what’s going on here–and I mean, I do think this way, but I’m bastard, after all–but how much of that is going to translate into something quantifiable? How many people are going to watch/buy The IT Crowd, order Phill’s stuff from Amazon UK, or snag that new Newbery medal-stamped Graveyard Book because they’re Gaiman completists and think it’s badass? We probably won’t ever know. But the power of free, whether it’s free content or even free face time–is pretty damn powerful. How much did Monty Python DVD sales jump up when they embraced YouTube instead of fighting it?
Twitter is the beginning of something tremendous. It’s slightly delayed IM but with people you wouldn’t ever interact with because you didn’t know about them until you saw them RT “re-tweeted” by someone who you respect/admire. Or you could find they’re being followed by somebody you admire. And once that happens, events can form out of the digital foam faster than you might imagine. Graham Linehan conceived of BadMovieClub just a few days back–now it’s got a website and a t-shirt. Seriously, what can you not do if you’ve got this sort of nebulous hive mind engine-ry behind you? Hell, somebody might try to get everybody else in the world on board with a UK-based charity/party or something.
We dwell in interesting times. And anybody who’s not on board now seriously needs to consider it. And I mean, honestly: if Stephen said the word, I think he could overthrow a small nation.