When it comes to pointlessly bizarre ways to spend your time, pretending to be someone else on Twitter has to be near the top of the list. It's a past time that doesn't even benefit from being 'edgy' or 'cool', it just reeks of someone having far too much time on their hands. I should know, last year I became one of those people. The type of knob that thinks it might be hilarious to parody someone vaguely famous in an attempt to distract themselves from doing anything
I told myself that this would be an excellent use of my summer and it seemed like a master plan. Rather than being an ego trip of epic proportions, I decided it was a way to perfect the art of comedy, even managing to convince myself that by making this a writing exercise it was somehow more highbrow and worthy, instead of being slightly childish.
Having seen the success of the likes of @50ShedsOfGrey and @CherylKerl I presumed that I was destined for a similar level of Twitter stardom.
I think we can all see where this is going.
Getting 'lolz' into 140 characters or less wasn't the problem. My followers loved the account and within a week I was hooked on tweeting sarcastic and pithy remarks to my niche audience of 'fangirls'. Famous within a certain internet clique and frankly, loving the attention, I was spending way too much time interacting with my 'fans' and very little time doing anything else. Far from furthering any sort of writing career, I was sitting in my pants, tweeting strangers and treading a treacherous path towards a lawsuit.
I’m currently re-thinking my life choices and avoiding Twitter to stop myself getting into further online mischief. But, if you’re planning on starting a Twitter parody here's how to stop it all going horribly wrong...
Following your followers
Never do this. Seriously. The minute you follow people they expect you to fucking talk to them. Which is fine if you can stay in character and like to harp on endlessly about your chosen parody subject. Don't waste your creativity here, no-one will thank you for it.
Choosing a parody subject without a sense of humour
Never presume your chosen parody target will enjoy having their personality mocked by all and sundry. The object of my parody was so offended by my existence that they deleted all their tweets and left Twitter. This made me feel like a bit of a shit (for about a day) and also saw me Googling parody law into the small hours convinced that a lawsuit would be filed against me. They eventually got a sense of humour, but I'm still waiting for that legal letter.
Poking the bear
So one day you notice that the person/brand/inanimate object you parody isn't happy that you are mercilessly taking the piss out of them. This is not the time to send them a hilarious tweet pointing out another of their 'flaws'. Trust me, it will not end well.
Keeping it legal
Following the Twitter parody guidelines won't necessarily stop you getting sued. Hiding every possible shred of your identity might delay the process, but this won't ultimately help either. Read some legal shit, don't cross the line and you 'might' just get away with it.
Choosing your time zone
Parody someone in the States and you'll be tweeting late in to the night wondering how your life came to *this*. Tweeting until 4am on a work night is a bleak experience. Parody someone in the UK and you'll be on a written warning for excessive use of your mobile in working hours. Either way Hootsuite is your answer. Unless, like me, your last shred of self-control was exhausted trying to refuse the siren call of a yard of Jaffa Cakes. In which case you should probably stay clear of Twitter altogether.
Mental health problems
So, you’re pretending to be someone else online. Worrying. Though, everyone needs a hobby so let’s not judge. But, it really starts to mess with your head when other parody accounts start talking to you. If they are parodying fictional characters the virtual rabbit tunnel of mental-ness can threaten to unhinge you even further. Try getting dressed, going outside and talking to real people every now and then. Failing that there’s always Chatroulette where pants are always optional.
The minute followers find out who you are your parody style caped crusading days are numbered. It's like discovering who The Stig is or who was inside those Teletubby costumes. No-one really needs to know. Because when they see you're really just some web geek, furiously massaging your own ego from the privacy of your bedroom, they won’t be impressed.
Falling in love
Awkward. Any type of social media can be used to get you a quick shag here and there. But, wooing a prospective soul mate from behind the guise of a parody account is not only slightly bizarre it also cramps your style. By all means meet the love of your life through Twitter, but for god's sake keep it out of the parody account. Your followers don't want to read about how happy you and your Twitter conquest are. Neither do they want to read about your intended sexual exploits apparently. Weird.