We all know the basic rules for Twitter. Even if you are new to the social media site, there is still a basic etiquette. Don’t post 100 times a day, post meaningful content, engage and interact with other users. Don’t spam, don’t beg for follows, etc. etc.
Unless you are a teen girl obsessed with her favorite band on Twitter. Then all of the “normal” rules go right out the window.
My daughter is your typical teen girl, and obsessed with the band you see in the photo, 5 Seconds of Summer. I mean, obsessed. Magazines, posters on her wall, videos on You Tube. Reads almost every bit of fan fiction written. Photos on her phone are nothing but screen shots of them. Then there is Twitter, and that’s a popular place for bands. It is also where all the fans go to connect with this band, its members and other fans. I was looking at my daughter’s Twitter account, which is just a fan account. She connects with other fans, tweets at the band members, and yes, begs for follows. By beg I mean, spams this account over and over.
At first this freaked me out. Why is my daughter being such a spazz online? Doesn’t she know this is going to follow her around forever?? Then I started clicking on the accounts of those she follows and re-tweets. They are all exactly the same, and do the exact same things. No one uses their own names (including my daughter), accounts are just some morphed band name or band member name. Profile photos are pictures of their favorite band members. My rule is no last name, address or phone numbers. No personal identifying information. I also check to make sure location tagging is off. It’s such a cesspool of crazy teen hormones, as I read through tweets I can hear squealing in my head. I don’t know how the band can stand it. It makes my head hurt describing it to you.
The crazy part is, the band members encourage it. They will tweet teasers letting everyone know they are going to start adding followers. Then this part of the Twitter universe explodes with the clicky sounds of millions of teens spamming the band account asking them to follow. Then when someone gets a follow by a band member, they tweet about it and that takes on a new surge of tweets begging for a follow. It’s brilliant if you think about it. I imagine they have lists set up (or probably pay someone else to manage it) so who cares if they follow thousands of fans? It drums up excitement and gets everyone talking about the band.
The most interesting part of this for me is the way engagement works. My daughter has 8,000 followers, including one of her favorite band members and the official band account. Her Klout score? 59. That’s higher than mine, and I have a pretty respectable score. It is one big group chat about the bands, music, which one is the hottest, why don’t the other members follow, and on and on. They interact. Continuously. ALL THE TIME.
When she told me there was a tweet up (I’m not supposed to call it that, that’s the ‘old people’ term) for fans of 5sos at a local mall I raised an eyebrow. I mean, I don’t know who any of these people are! Visions of middle-aged sex offenders stalking girls online flew into my head. I asked my daughter to show me who the organizer is. I received a photo with a girl my daughter’s age holding a sign saying “I’m not a serial killer.”
So I took her. Of course I stayed at the mall, but my other daughter and I went shopping and avoided the group. It was quite a group too! About 20-25 girls gathered, and someone even brought a cake (the photo above). My daughter made new friends and met some of her online friends in person. They took a big group photo and tweeted it to the band. They ate cake. It was a good afternoon.
I don’t interact with my daughter online, but I watch. I will talk to her offline about things she posts (mostly good, there have been a couple of tweets I told her were a bit over the top). I stay indirectly involved in her online activity, because not only can I step in if something is amiss, but hopefully when the fan girl stage ends and she wants a more permanent Twitter account she will have learned one or two things about how to use it.
It is such a different world now from when I was my daughter’s age. Some would argue it is more dangerous. I look at it as not so much more dangerous but simply… different. The online world is here to stay, social media is here to stay, and it’s up to us to be aware of the younger generation and what they are doing with it. Embrace it, learn it, and always pay attention to what your kids are doing online.