Tweeting with the stars – Celebrities have fun with social networking on Twitter

Bradenton Herald – Ashton Kutcher greeted me one morning with “rise and shine.”

A few days later, John Mayer shared inspiring lyrics to a new work-in-progress. Then I caught up with Oprah, who told me she’s enjoying her visit to North Carolina.

When Oprah shares part of her life with you, you know you’ve arrived.

Though it seems like I’ve turned into a celebrity insider overnight, I have to let you in on a little secret: my newfound celebrity circles have been formed through the latest social networking craze — Twitter.

Twitter has attracted millions of users worldwide. The basis of this social network hangs on a simple question it asks all users: “What are you doing?” Leaving them to respond in 140 characters or less — sharing their lives with the world.

Status messages rank from the mundane: “Ate a bagel at my favorite hot spot today,” to the amusing: “Bungee jumping with my pet rabbit in tow. Let’s see who can hop the highest.”

It’s also been the site of breaking news. Earlier this year, a Twitter user was the first to post photos of the plane that crashed into New York’s Hudson River.

Twitter users can “follow” favorite friends, coworkers, associates and complete strangers, catching the play-by-play of their lives. Or they can be followed by their own personal paparazzi of said friends, etc. — but without all the cameras, fanfare and obvious stalking, of course.

Kutcher, for instance, has 1.8 million followers, being the first Twitter user to reach a million followers in April after challenging CNN for the title.

FYI Kutcher: Britney Spears isn’t too far behind. She’s at 1.5 million and counting.

It seems Kutcher and his fellow celebs have made Twitter fun for those who don’t really know what else to do with the social platform. In light of this, I decided to follow a few celebrities for more than a week to witness their latest hijinks. Here are highlights:

Day 1, May 11

Choosing celebrities to “follow”

This was hard for me. The journalist in me cried out: “How do you know if these people are who they say they are?!” Miley Cyrus, for instance, has a couple of “Official” Twitter pages. Some haven’t been updated for a while. Though, usually, the one with the highest number of followers is the real McCoy.

Needless to say, I didn’t follow Miss Hannah Montana. Instead, I picked Ashton Kutcher, Oprah, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Travis Clark of the Bradenton-based band We The Kings, John Mayer and MC Hammer. Let the fun begin.

Day 2, May 12

Clark writes a “doctor’s note” to Twitter that says, “Dear Twitter, today I will not be around, I love you & I’ll see you tomorrow.”

A couple of hours later, he’s back on. Can’t even hold out a day. Huh, Clark? Of course, if there was a “creepy painter dude in the window of my house,” as he posted along with a picture of the creepy painter dude cleaning the window outside of his bedroom, I’d share it with Twitter, too.

Did Timberlake switch Twitter accounts? Or was I following a bogus Timberlake? Twitter tells me his account has been suspended due to “strange activity.”

I “follow” Wil Wheaton, the teenager from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He’s all grown up now. On this day, he’s worried about being labeled a geek. Hmm.

Day 3, May 13

Mayer says your brain will feel better reading NPR or BBC online as oppose to CNN.com. Apparently, CNN dumbs down its news, according to the singer.

I won’t mention what Kutcher is posting from You Tube. It seems to be building up to something naughty. For shame, Kutcher. For shame.

Day 4, May 14

Mayer wonders if “when I have a wife I’ll be allowed to climb into bed with cereal and milk.”

Fans respond, and minutes later: “Seems from your replies as if I should just bring cereal and milk with me on a first date. ‘I hope this isn’t going to be a problem.’ ”

I knew there was a reason I liked him.

Clark is in town eating a grilled cheese sandwich at Five Guys Burgers and Fries with a friend. Later, he’s at the Trop watching the Tampa Rays ball game when something takes him by surprise:

“The Tampa Bay Rays stadium just played all of ‘Check Yes Juliet’ during the game. . . . That’s never happened before,” he tweets.

Day 5, May 15

Kutcher is shooting a gun scene with Tom Selleck. Says Selleck’s mustache is “epic.”

Mayer shares what I start to call “Mayerisms”

“All in life is bravery,” he tweets.

Hammer’s been on the road a lot lately. This time he’s in New York at a Natasha Bedingfield concert. He posts a picture of them together, calling her a “fantastic singer.” Later, a fan tweets him about how Hammer pants are making a comeback in Argentina.

Why on earth are they making a comeback? And in Argentina of all places?!

Meanwhile, Mayer is wondering why he should brush his teeth before bed and when he gets up in the morning since he doesn’t eat anything in between. I’m right there with you, Mayer, but the dentist loves my teeth, so I must be doing something right.

Speaking of teeth, Clark visits the dentist, who he hasn’t seen in years. The verdict: He needs to floss more and get a tooth filled.

“I never want to go back,” he tweets.

I guess to ease his upcoming pain, he buys and posts a picture of a “hair massager thingy.” “Best $15 I’ve ever spent!,” he says.

Later, there are children running around at the Mayer home. A bunch of them, along with plastic horses and tiny flip-flops, he reports. “I like this. For three more hours.

Perfect scenario,” he tweets. Apparently he’s just downloaded the “Hannah Montana” soundtrack to the children’s delight. He’s a fan now.

Day 6, May 16

I take a break from Twitter.

Day 9, May 19

I took a longer break than I expected. Need to catch up. In catching up, I discover:

Another Mayerism: “Smile at the things that worry you.”

Brilliant.

And Kutcher, who filmed a chase scene over the weekend, turns into a sage for a moment.

“The blows [that] hurt us the most come from our own fists. Self doubt and self-hatred — these are our biggest opponents in life.”

Then he freaks out over an unconfirmed tweet about Al Green dying. He wants to know if it’s true. He’s relieved when it’s not.

I find out he’s seen that Red House Furniture commercial on You Tube, too. Awesome.

Hours later, he meets with Usher and promptly signs him up for — you guessed it — Twitter.

“If you can’t beat’em, join’em!”, Usher tweets.

While newbies like Usher can enjoy the social networking extravaganza Twitter offers, I wonder how long this celebrity bandwagon will last. Mayer ponders: “Is it me or has Twitter lost a ‘little’ bit of its new car smell?”

published May 24

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