Some of you may have noticed I’ve started Tweeting.
The main reason is that I’d got tired of people telling me they followed me and having to tell them that I wasn’t actually on Twitter and they were following an impersonator.
For a long time, I thought maybe I could live with having people masquerading as me in the Twittersphere.
If I wasn’t going to Tweet as me, it seemed reasonable that someone else might fill the position.
But then I then I started wondering who they might they actually be talking to? A spotty teenager in Bridport? A psychopath with a smuggled smartphone in Rampton Hospital? A hyper-intelligent shark?
It wasn’t even necessarily that the non-me mes were doing a particularly bad job of being me.
@LouisThx (more than 16,000 followers) was providing basically accurate bare-bones information: I’ve got a show on tonight… I used to live in San Jose…and so on.
@theroux_docs (the big boy on the block imposter-wise, with about 100,000 followers) was also plugging the shows (thanks, feller) and his tweets were passably funny, eg. “Why do Pringles claim “once you pop you can’t stop yet they have resealable lids?”” and “Are you the same person who started reading this tweet?”
Though maybe his jokes, like his online persona, were nicked.
He also had a weird habit of tweeting open-ended questions, eg. “What are your goals in life?”
One impersonator, titled @louistherouxg69, had a habit of Capitalizing All His Words (not even just the nouns, which might be understandable if his first language was German).
Eg, from May this year: “Hi Milly!, Thank You Very Much For Your Support I am Very glad You Like Watching Them! Very More To Come! All The Best Louis ”
As of writing, @louistherouxg69 had a little over 6000 followers, so not a vast number, but still worrying if they really are following him in good faith, not as a joke, and believe I would write: “The Alan Titchmarsh Show Is The Best Hour Of Telly, Apart My Own Hour Long Documentaries!!!”
A few weeks ago, I logged into a Twitter account I’d opened a year or two ago but done nothing with. Since many of the plausible variations of my name were taken, for reasons I don’t fully remember I’d settled on the Twitter handle “@loubot2000”.
Initially I was in the weird position of having to prove I was me and not an impersonator myself, like the main character in a Philip K. Dick short story.
As a philosophical conundrum: If someone tweets to ask “How do I know it’s the real you”, what can you say?
Clearly it wasn’t helping that I had a ludicrous Twitter handle and a Fatbooth photograph for my profile pic.
I threw the question back out to the Twitter community and was advised to Tweet a photo of myself holding a card with my @loubot2000 handle written on it. This I duly did.
I also contacted the Twitter authorities who have now helped me reclaim the name @LouisTheroux and given me a blue tick to verify that it is in fact me.
I’ve been Tweeting regularly for about three weeks now.
I’m still figuring a lot of stuff out but I’ve started to get what’s good about Twitter.
I was able to post an online appreciation of Jimmy Savile when he died and Tweet a link to it.
I live-Tweeted when one of my shows went out, in a kind real-time version of text-only DVD commentary.
I had an enjoyable brain-storm of great documentaries while waiting for a plane in Phoenix, Arizona.
I’ve also enjoyed tossing bits of mental flotsam into the cyber-void and seeing what kind of splash it makes. Thoughts on Bob Dylan and his live show. The demonization of mime artists. Weird meals I happen to be eating. And so on.
Where this will all lead, I’ve no way of knowing.
Last Saturday night, half drunk, I began Tweeting and realized I was, in a metaphorical way, in danger of standing naked at the window in front of thousands of people.
I worry about Tweeting impulsively or making a joke that will be misconstrued and landing myself in hot water.
I also worry that I am creating a paper trail of opinions that will in some way end up backfiring on me, as I’m accused of bias and refused access in the future by potential contributors in the world of, say, Nascar, because they find a Tweet in which I make a tasteless joke about, say, Dale Earnhardt (not that I would, I promise).
As of this morning, I’m up to around 30,000 followers.
I’m not all about numbers but there is something oddly pleasing about watching the increase, like watching the donation thermometer to up on a Blue Peter Appeal, even though I’m still second fiddle to @theroux_docs who still has a whopping 98,000.
In fact there is part of me that enjoys the paradox of someone being better than me at being me. If he starts making TV shows too then I’ll be in trouble.