Though it's been around for a while, Twitter has become incredibly high-profile and incredibly divisive in the past few months. My original reaction to the idea of “microblogging” bordered on anaphylactic, but then it actually came in handy during E3 last year, allowing us to provide brief updates during the day when we didn't have the time to write. Eventually I fully got on-board with what Jeff succinctly describes as “a random IM that everyone can see.” It's a stupid idea, and stupid ideas are fine in the right hands and in small doses, but ever since Twitter hit the mainstream vernacular and the TV news fluff stories started pouring in with anchors shouting “I just don't GET this whole Twitter thing!” I knew we, as a society, were headed for trouble.
And trouble, it has arrived. In the form of, unsurprisingly, Ashton Kutcher. Earlier this week, the Punk'd'er challenged CNN--that's right, the Cable News Network--to see who could collect 1,000,000 followers on their Twitter account first. If he won, Kutcher promised to “ding-dong ditch” Ted Turner's house. That this Twitter race was enough of an event that I had read about it elsewhere was worrisome enough, but now EA has escalated the situation, offering a prize of every game EA publishes in 2009, as well as an appearance in The Sims 3, to whomever ends up being Kutcher's 1,000,000th follower. To be crystal clear here, there is now a significant bounty for people willing to pretend to be interested in what Ashton Kutcher has to say in 140 characters or less.
I don't think any of this absurdity would bother me if I thought that the Kutch was at all aware of its absurdity, but I can't shake the feeling that he's oblivious to any subtext, and just really, really wants the attention. That said, I can't fault anyone for getting into the mix now that EA is offering that prize. Times are tough, and apparently we're so starved for entertainment that we're paying attention to a popularity contest between a second-tier celebrity and the news.