The internet and social media have so changed our world and our brains in a relatively brief period of time. Expressions like “I’ll check in my spam folder” would have led to puzzled, indeed slightly revolted looks even 10 years ago, but nowadays we’re all at it. While I avoid Facebook like the plague, I do like Twitter, but have recently noticed a rather strange phenomenon. I seem to be of great interest to rather a lot of attractive young women.
Take “Lily” for example. She follows me, very good of her, but seems to spend most of her time on the beach in a bikini, and tweeting deep stuff like “kinda wanna go on a date, kinda want to get hit by a truck too”, and tweeting celebrity-related links and stuff like “15 Pictures That Will Make Your Heart Stop” (sounds like a bad idea – I didn’t follow the link).
Then there’s “Andrea”, who shares wisdoms like “for a smart woman a man is not a problem, for a smart woman a man is a solution”, and retweets such a wide and eclectic range of stuff that she’s hard to figure out, frankly. Oh, and she wears a bikini too.
“Fabia” seems more set on tweeting stuff about fashion and BMW adverts, and, erm, one of my tweets which mentioned a new book, ‘People Powered Money’, about local currencies. I’m not saying it’s impossible that someone seemingly obsessed with tan lines, BMW convertibles and fashion is also intrigued by how to implement a new currency in her community, but it did make me a tad suspicious.
There’s “Bethany” who, what are the odds, describes herself as “Sex, Wine and Rok’n’Roll”, oddly exactly the same as “Andrea” does, who also wears a bikini, and as well as tweeting about One Direction, American Football players and wisdoms like “I wish… but don’t know whome”, also feels inspired to share with her followers the link to my review of Julian Dobson’s book ‘How to Save Town Centres’.
On closer inspection, there are loads of them. “Dixie” tweets stuff like “a woman’s mind is cleaner than a man’s – she changes it more often”, and so it goes on. And on. Now, much as I might like to think that Transition has once again broadened its appeal into a whole new demographic whose allure previously eluded it, I have my doubts. As a rather naive social media person, I did some asking around, and I think I have got the measure of “Bethany”, “Lily” and the rest of them.
The more followers a Twitter account has, the more money it’s worth. Apparently, Lady Gaga could sell her Twitter account for $9,467,229, were she minded to do so. Twitter itself is apparently worth $10bn, which means that if the UK Government decided not to renew Trident missiles, it could spend the money it saves buying Twitter. I have no idea what purpose doing such a thing would serve, but it could.
I went to an app called TweetValue which claims to be able to value your Twitter account. Mine is apparently worth $3155 (about £2038)! So, call me suspicious, but I don’t think “Bethany” and her friends actually exist. I think what happens is that people create Twitter accounts with the aim of trying to get the highest number of followers, so they can sell them. And presumably, our bikini-clad friends and their inane postings are imagined to be a good way to attract lots of followers. Rather than the links to books about local currencies and the regeneration of local high street economies which, sadly, are probably less of a lure.
Heaven only knows where anyone would actually sell a Twitter account. Presumably if anyone following me found that all of a sudden all I tweeted was adverts for shampoo or dog food, they’d quite rightly stop following me, making the whole thing rather self-defeating.
It’s all rather bizzare, and an indication of how far we’re moving away from an economy that is actually based on people actually doing real things with real stuff. We increasingly have an economy, as comedian David Mitchell put it, “based on selling lattes and ringtones”. But flimsy and unsubstantial and soul destroying though that is, it’s still a few steps above an economy based on poorly paid students on zero hours contracts sitting at laptops pretending to be vacuous imaginary attractive women in bikinis in order to create value for Twitter accounts. When your economy reaches the stage where that is presented as “work”, something is deeply, deeply wrong. There’s a new economy to be built, that’s already being built, and it’s one that will nourish and sustain in a way that what we might now call the “Bethany Economy” never could and never will.
The whole thing is somewhat troubling. But it has given me a good clue as to how I might boost my followers on Twitter. I’m ordering my bikini first thing tomorrow. Brace yourselves.