Being Twitter Famous Nearly Ruined My Life
- Tulani Pama
When you start feeling your mobile phone vibrating in your pocket even though you know it's not there you may have a problem Tulani shares the highs and lows of Twitter fame and his social media addiction
My ascension atop the online throne started from almost nothing. I remember after posting a hilarious status on my Facebook account, I returned home to an intervention hosted by none other than my parents and their closest friends. Not only had they failed to see my humour, they had called in the cavalry of aunties and uncles to try and fix me. The explanations were an annoyance I would rather avoid, so I responded by migrating to Twitter (anonymously, of course).
This is where things got interesting. Without my name and my picture, I was free to speak on anything and everything that got my attention. Whenever I had a thought that tickled my fancy, I gave myself the necessary props and then posted them. I didn’t think or care if anyone saw my tweets, I just put them out there. After a while, I noticed that a lot of people started following me and retweeting my messages like crazy. They made me feel like my words meant something, that everything I said carried real weight. I felt empowered initially – like a Socrates for the 21st century.
When I reached my first 1000 followers (about 2 months later) I started tweeting on overdrive. I went from an infrequent, flaky tweeter to a maverick, posting several times a day. I started to feel a certain responsibility to my followers.
My sole purpose online was to entertain and the first thing I would do when I woke up would be to scroll down my timeline. I had to manufacture interesting, laughing out loud worthy content. It was no longer purely about tweeting on a whim of inspiration. I didn’t want to become one of those social media numbskulls that felt the need to tell the world what they were eating for breakfast or that they were going to the gym.
”My online status became an obsession, I was living for my followers and it suddenly became all I wanted to do.”
After about six or seven months, I had over 30,000 followers. It was absolutely surreal. I would try to quantify that number by imagining 30,000 people following me through the streets. Those are concert numbers, I felt like a superstar. My followers didn’t know what I looked like but I was getting invited to events and parties that I would normally never have been at. I felt like it was a big game for them to find out who I was, so I rarely ever indulged them. If I’m really honest, I felt a bit afraid that I would not live up to the reputation my words had created of me.
It was extremely satisfying to watch people enjoy what I had said on such a large scale. I was getting direct messages from all over the world – as far away as Australia! Women would often send me inappropriate photos of themselves in compromising positions and I would be lying if I said an element of a God-complex had not set in.
My online status became an obsession, I was living for my followers and it suddenly became all I wanted to do. I found myself focusing (more hours than I would ever admit) to being this person that people loved. In some ways I felt trapped because I knew that the minute I stopped, the false adoration would fade away. I hated that I looked at my phone every second for updates and felt my phone vibrate in my pocket even though it was on the table in front of me.
I was now filtering every thought and action through my Twitter account. If Twitter didn’t approve of it then it wasn’t good enough for the real world. The worst thing about it is, what you did yesterday didn’t matter at all – you constantly had to be tweeting to stay relevant. Every night my slate was wiped clean and every morning I felt I had to prove myself all over again.
I stepped away from my Twitter addiction for three months, to get some much needed life experience travelling and when I signed back in everyone had deserted me. It was a shock, from tens of thousands of adoring followers to a few hundred. Effectively I became the no one I always was. It was a brutal but necessary realisation. You see the truth is my followers didn’t love me they just loved the Internet.
It was fun while it lasted but I don’t really miss my celebrity status. I will never forget the addictive and nature required to maintain it and how obsessed became.
I was a Twitter celebrity for 18 months, and in that time, fame found me as a naïve kid, she lifted my ego beyond the clouds, and then one day she just packed up her s*** and left.