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Column: World, Meet the Social-Media Kanye

By ; July 30, 2010 at 12:00 AM 

If anyone was wondering who the biggest celebrity in the world today is, well, we have a winner. And I guess I’m not surprised that the measuring stick in today’s culture is the public’s reaction to the simple act of signing up for a Twitter account by a famous person. This is why Kanye West is the king of the entertainment world: what other celebrity could basically take over the entire internet by joining a social-media site two years after every other celebrity already did? Kanye’s account gained over 150,000 followers in its first 12 hours of existence Wednesday, spawned a worldwide trending topic called #predictingkanyetweets, and single-handedly made Twitter slower all day.

And what’s more, I felt compelled to write an entire column about the social and cultural implications of the fact that Kanye is on Twitter. Who else is capable of that? LeBron James joined shortly before his ill-advised “Decision” special, and the hype from that didn’t come close to this. Comedian Aziz Ansari had two of his #predictingkanyetweets posts retweeted by the man himself today, and that made us look at Aziz and say, “that dude must be loving life right now.” Can you conceive of another instance of one celebrity retweeting another that would legitimately make people think the retweetee (is that a word?) was cooler for it? You can’t do it.

Of course, it goes without saying that Kanye joining Twitter is the best thing to happen to the internet since the invention of the double rainbow. His first few tweets were the worst kind of Soulja Boy/Chad Ochocinco celebrity tweets, either linking to every site that posted the story about his impromptu concert at Facebook headquarters (except, seemingly, this one) or publicly counting his followers. But his learning curve is impressively high, and he’s quickly realized that people want to follow him on Twitter for the same reason they read his blog: because he’s the most compelling head case in pop music. Aziz Ansar’s prediction (“THESE SHOES I GOT ON ARE DOPE AS FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”) has more or less turned out to be true. Just today alone, he’s waxed poetic about the pros and cons of dating supermodels (“I had to learn to like small dogs and cigarettes”) and his frustrating home-décor decisions (“I specifically ordered persian rugs with cherub imagery!!! What do I have to do to get a simple persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh”), eventually coming to exactly the conclusion you’d expect him to: “My thoughts on Twitter so far… at the end of the day, God damnit I’m killing this shit!!!” In two days, he’s vaulted to must-follow crazy celebrity status, on the level of Ron Artest and Jim Carrey.

Imagine if Kanye had a Twitter account during ‘Swiftgate’, or if Twitter had existed at the time of the Katrina telethon. Now consider that he’s probably not done putting his foot in his mouth—it will happen at least 50 more times before his career is over. And that’s going to be the only thing anyone on Twitter talks about. Only this time, he’s going to be able to give his take, whatever that is. The internet just got incredibly exciting.





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