First, a Twitter primer. Twitter is Facebook for people with ADD. Or, worse ADD. If you don’t “know” Facebook, congratulations. Also, this explanation will not help you.
A post on Twitter is a “tweet.” “Following” someone on Twitter is the same as “friending” on Facebook with one important distinction: You can “follow” someone on Twitter, but they don’t have to “follow” you back. That’s how a celebrity like Kim Kardashian has 33.9 million followers, and only follows 128 people. (Kanye West, her husband, has 13.6 million followers, and follows only one person — Kim Kardashian).
Usernames, called Twitter handles, are preceded by the “@” symbol, as in @kimkardasian. If you like a tweet, you “favorite” the post; this is the equivalent of a Facebook “like.” Retweeting means you are sharing someone else’s tweet on your own feed. A “quote-tweet” is a retweeting, but adding your own comment.
Oh yeah. There are also hashtags (#). I still don’t get those.
In the age of 140-character fame, I think my daughter may be famous.
Rewind to July 24, following the American Idol concert at the Amphitheater. I strolled down to the lake with three of my kids to get autographs. I played a cameo here, the part of bumbling-dad-iPhone-photographer.
All five American Idol finalists were more than obliging. Idol winner and tank-top ombudsman Nick Fradiani even signed an autograph for one of my daughter Hope’s absent friends, Nick-crazy Madison.
“Wish I could have met you Madison! Thanks for the support! Nick Fradiani,” reads the Sharpie autograph on a stray piece of notebook paper.
Nice evening. Back up the hill and home to bed. For most of us.
In a darkened bedroom on Vincent, at 12:09 a.m., a should’ve-been-sleeping 17-year-old girl hurtled the following into the Twittersphere: “I might’ve just won ‘The Bestest Friend Ever Award’ by getting @nickfradiani’s autograph for you.” This was followed by emojis of a Cupid-arrow and a winky-tongue face. Also, a digital image of Nick signing the autograph, biceps on full display.
At 12:11 a.m. came young Madison’s dispatch: “OMG HES BEAUTIFUL AND SO ARE YOU.”
Four heart emojis.
For the next hour and 27 minutes, teenage girl blah-blah-blah.
Then, at 1:38 a.m., all Hell broke loose with the following notification: “@nickfradiani followed you back.”
There has not been typography invented to represent the shriek that followed. Then again, you probably heard it.
At 1:39 a.m., things hit fever pitch, when Nick “favorited” Hope’s tweet.
1:40 a.m., Hope’s tweet heard round the world read: “NICK JUST FOLLOWED ME!!!!”
Madison wrote, “SAME.” Madison was thumb-struck, and typed, “SAME,” a second time, then “ONG,” a variant of “OMG” favored by girls in the midst of hysteria.
Still within the confines of 1:40 a.m., another notification: “@nickfradiani quoted your tweet.”
At this point, his Nickself typed two emojis — a smiley face and a thumbs up — with his own Idol thumbs.
Now, Nick’s hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers could see Hope’s post.
The next few hours were a dizzying blur of retweeting. In the mix, two other American Idol contestants followed Hope. A fourth “liked” one of her posts on Instagram.
Meanwhile, for every message sent between Hope and Madison, a little bell went off on the phone of Hope’s sort-of sleeping 15-year-old, sister Zoe. At 10:16 a.m., Zoe tweeted the following: “When you are trying to sleep but @nickfradiani follows your sister and friend. #RIP #help.”
Zoe’s phone informed her she had missed 738 related messages the previous night. That’s how many messages had been exchanged between Madison and Hope. And how many times Zoe’s phone had dinged while she was “sleeping.”
Nick favorited the tweet and followed Zoe.
We are still distilling the impact on our lives. The next morning, Hope announced there would need to be an adjustment of her household chores, as she was extremely sleep-deprived and possibly a celebrity.
Update: Nick’s aunt, Maria Fradiani, is now following Hope on Twitter.
Folks, this is getting real.
John Warren is a writing coach and columnist for The Chautauquan Daily. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter via @johndavidwarren.