The following article is based on wild and probably inaccurate assumptions about the types of people that use Twitter and Facebook. To enjoy the ensuing words, can I please ask that you go along with these baseless theories? If you don’t, I’ll hate you forever.
When it comes to social media, Twitter is very highbrow isn’t it? Depending on who you follow, your Twitter timeline can consist of political insights, up-to-date news stories and the praise singing of the latest fraudulent ice-based BBC nature documentary. There is the occasional reality show tweet but they are usually sneering yet witty observations about how much better we are than the participants and the trending topics tend to be the most current of affairs, as long as you pretend the words ‘Bieber’ and ‘One’ and ‘Direction’ don’t exist. Facebook on the other hand regularly consists of a series of misspelled status updates, comments about whatever soap happens to be airing at the time or people just explaining what they had for dinner. It seems to be the shallower social media option, which perhaps says more about the company I keep than the website itself.
I currently have 483 ‘friends’ on Facebook and while many of them are genuine acquaintances, some of which I actually like as humans, others are what I deem to be ‘random’ additions to my profile. The majority of these ‘random’ friends were generated from a time when I had a provocative, yet tasteful-ish, profile picture. The photo in question is black & white and features me shirtless, greased up and shiny and was posted during a time when I was single, starving for attention and generally being an egotistical prick. It turns out that this incredibly false representation of myself (I’m not black & white and I’m rarely greased up) is like catnip for the shallow gays of Facebook and I was receiving around 20 friend requests a week.
My follower count on Twitter has been steadily increasing since I joined and seems to have peaked around the 370 mark. It appears to be a social network where the amount of followers is dependent on the quality of the words you type and has less emphasis on your picture, which is why I randomly chose an old fully-clothed snap as my avatar, without really giving it much thought. As my Twitter rut started to take hold, my thoughts drifted back to my Facebook boom heyday and I started to wonder whether changing my profile picture to something more revealing would increase or decrease my follower count. So I did. Here are the results:
DAY ONE: Literally seconds after I posted the new picture, I lost two followers. I put this down to a previous series of tweets discussing how much I wanted a cup of coffee (I didn’t end up having a cup of coffee for those enthralled by that storyline). Follower count: 368
DAY ONE part two: To alert people to the change, I published a tweet to say that I had a new profile photo and to curb accusations of being a narcissistic bell-end, I stated that I expected to lose followers. In hindsight, this could have been seen as compliment fishing (Don’t look at me like that. Attention is nice). Here is a selection of the responses I received:
“@[Anonymous] Lose? You’ll gain dozens.”
“@[Namemaskedforprivacypurposes] Gain you mean! ”
“@[Rubbishpseudonym] Well I’m made of hardy stuff. I’ll stick around ”
So far, so ego-boosting. Still no new followers. Follower count: 368
DAY TWO: I awoke to find that I had three new followers. Upon closer inspection I discover that one is a greetings card business, one is a guy who tweets wisdom-laden quotes from his mum and the other is a girl from Coventry with an ‘I ♥ 1D’ symbol on her page. While not my target audience, I accept all new followers with good grace. Follower count: 371
DAY TWO part two: By 2pm my follower count had dropped by one. The dear Coventry-based One Direction-loving girl had jumped my Twitter ship. Perhaps she couldn’t handle the sight of my glistening naked body or perhaps she was scared off by my tweet saying that I wanted Marcus from the X Factor to sit on my face. Follower count: 370
DAY THREE: The news of my shirtlessness had clearly spread, as two new people began following me, both shirtless themselves interestingly enough. I felt like I had been welcomed into some torso-baring super club, frequented by models, wannabe models, the deluded and those that obscure their face with an iPhone. Follower count: 372
DAY FOUR: Another new follower and a few tweets referring to my new picture today. Some of the tweets are bordering on lewd innuendo, which fuels my ego considerably. I also judge them considerably – I’m fickle like that. Follower count: 373
DAY FOUR part two: One more follower appears but it’s a brand sponsored account. I guess I’m lucky that it wasn’t for dickheadswithshirtlessphotos.com. Indecently, the profile is for a book publisher (see, HIGHBROW). Follower count: 374
DAY FIVE: Over night I gained three and lost one. The new followers must be a result of my picture, as I had tweeted nothing of worth in three days (not deliberately to make the experiment fair, I’m just really boring). Follower count: 376
DAY SIX: I lost three followers. Thankfully not because my photo offended them so much that they vomited through their eyeballs but because of my incessant comments about the X Factor final. Not highbrow enough for you followers? Huh?! Yeah, fuck you. Follower count: 373
DAY SEVEN: The final day of my experiment and my numbers continued to drop. I contemplated a cock-shot to really throw the penis among the pigeons but I ultimately decided it would hurt my credibility as a serious writer. Serious writers are allowed to say ‘cock-shot’. I swear. Follower count: 372
In conclusion, this experiment has proven nothing. My new profile picture had no real effect on the types of people who decided to follow or unfollow me. In fact, you could argue that Twitter, like the majority of the planet, is largely indifferent to my naked torso. So as I head to the gym, climb onto the treadmill and run through the tears, I would like to apologise for wasting your time. Twitter and Facebook are as shallow or as highbrow as you wish to make them and no amount of gratuitous flesh flashing will change that. Not if you’re oily and colourless anyway.