Aaron R. Davis
It’s endlessly fascinating to me the lengths that entertainment media attempt to go to in order to somehow engage people. It’s fascinating to me because I honestly don’t know what you actually get out of it. What does a TV network or a movie studio gain when they get a bunch of people talking about their product on Facebook or Twitter? Is there really a measurable boost that happens, especially when the vast majority of the Internet seems to be about entertainment media already? I mean, I can literally go to a dozen movie news websites to see today’s upcoming movie news restated a dozen different ways, but that doesn’t make me any more interested to see whatever Sacha Baron Cohen’s doing next than I already wasn’t. Is there really some kind of value to be gained from begging me to hashtag a topic and talk about it on Twitter? Or is everyone on Twitter like me: more likely to skip over things that are hashtagged with something I just don’t care about. Because Twitter for me tends to go like this: did Kristen Bell say something today? Then I don’t care.
Anyway, I’ve been noticing on some channels that the programmers will actually try to measure the impact they’re having by throwing up a suggested hashtag topic on the screen in order to prompt tweets. Over Christmas, while I was sick, I ended up flipping onto a broadcast of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on ABC Family. I ended up watching it for a few minutes and was surprised, when Cousin Eddie showed up, to see at the top of my screen the words “#cousineddie” appear. I guess ABC Family thought if they prompted a topic, they’d be able to get some kind of idea about how many people were watching Christmas Vacation. And also tweeting at the same time. Or something.
(And as a side note, generally if I’m watching something enough to bother noticing your suggested hashtag, I’m not busy tweeting about it, because I’m watching it. I dunno, maybe I’m too old for social media, but if I’m having little quip-conversations on Twitter, why am I also trying to watch something on television? Did you ever see those shows, like on HBO, where they’re literally about to start showing the new episode, and then they also tell you that a cast member is having an online chat at the same time and you should go participate in that? But, wait, how am I going to pay attention to the new episode of Game of Thrones I’ve been on pins and needles about all week if I’m also busy trying to get Peter Dinklage’s attention in a sea of text so I can ask him what his favorite flavor of Pez is, or whatever useless questions people like to ask when they have the attention of a famous person? Let me watch my show and stop inundating Peter Dinklage with questions.)
So, anyway, I was watching Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family (don’t you judge me), and I noticed they’re doing the hashtag prompts, too. Mona comes back to Rosewood High, and suddenly the words “#monasback” appear at the top of the screen, asking everyone to take their attention off of the show they’re already watching and start tweeting to … again, I don’t know … I guess to get more attention for the show so more people will watch the show even though they’re not actually watching it when it’s on right now because they’re tweeting about it? I mean, honestly, I don’t get it. Just let me watch the show. I don’t need to talk about it while it’s on. My wife is annoyed enough with my constant theories about who I think A is.
I used my Twitter exactly one time in 2012, and that was for the noble purpose of calling Donald Trump an asshole. But sometimes I want to get on when I see these hashtags and talk about something completely unrelated.
“Tonight’s the big night: my first time trying to make egg drop soup. #monasback”
“Huh, egg drop soup is more complicated than I figured it would be. #monasback”
“Soup percolating. As am I, with excitement. #monasback”
“Anybody have any thoughts on how early I should get in my taxes? #monasback”
“Hey, anybody else remember what Miss Piggy’s dog’s name was? Driving me nuts. #monasback”
“Just looked it up: Muppy. Cute. #monasback”
“@IMKristenBell: Mona is back. Your thoughts? #monasback”
“Who’s your favorite Smurf? I say Smurfette or no one. #monasback”
“Dang, lots of sweet deals at Big Lots this week. #monasback”
“So, wait, is #monasback as in she’s back from the asylum or her sweet booty? Because dayum #monasback”
“How long does this egg drop soup take? #monasback”
“My favorite flavor of Pez: strawberry. @IMKristenBell, you? #monasback”
“Ok, going to eat this. So excited! Never made it before! #monasback”
“Wow. I just had the worst vomiting session of my life. Lucky to still be alive. Blood. #monasback”
“Def. going to look up a recipe next time. Jeez. #monasback”
“Does my tooth actually feel loose? wtf #monasback”
“Really dizzy, too. @IMKristenBell, anything? #monasback”
“Need to go lay dwn nw hly shit ffff #monasback”
“Hey, guys. Feeling better this morning. Only puked twice more. #monasback”
“Anyway, you know how A is omnipotent and bends physical space? It’s totally Santa Claus. #monasback”
“@realDonaldTrump: asshole. Also #monasback”
A bunch of stupid, unrelated things that make me look like a jackass and Kristen Bell not talking to me? I already have that in real life. I see no reason to take that into cyberspace. You know, more.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.