Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Community News Network

October 25, 2013

Anonymity is fleeting when people are tweeting

WASHINGTON — In the ego-driven game of Twitter, Jofi Joseph was, for a while, one of the winners.

His 1,600 followers put him far below a Kanye West or even an Andrew Sullivan — but they were quality followers, an international relations In Crowd that lapped up his 140-character snark and insight. The Atlantic last year commended Joseph's shrewd analysis of White House maneuvers; Foreign Policy wrote a mournful blog post when his tweets about national security policy came to a sudden end.

But what did it get him? While Twitter has launched many once-obscure wits to social prominence, TV bookings or publishing deals, Joseph — the National Security Council staffer fired this week when he was revealed as the secret author of @natsecwonk — could never benefit from a growing fan base. As with the Capitol Beltway's busy community of Internet phantoms, he had to be anonymous because of the sensitivities of his day job. So then why tweet at all?

Just ask @PourMeCoffee, a short-form pundit who has managed to rack up more than 140,000 followers, including a media-political elite that has no idea of his identity.

"You know when you were in college and you hung out with your favorite friends telling jokes and trading [bogus] theories and it was the best thing ever?" he said in an e-mail. "Twitter allows you to do that again."

You don't need a spotlight to get your ego stroked, explained the pseudonymous @HillStaffer. "Faves and retweets and kind words feel good, even if not accredited to my real name."

Some of Washington's anonymous tweeters write from a stance of insider authority, such as @Httr24_7, who for a couple of seasons tantalized sports reporters with solid tips about Washington Redskins personnel moves. Others mock a stance of insider authority, such as the anonymous parody accounts @DCJourno ("just posted my take on what Obama's big speech means for 2016") and @SrWHOfficial. A few exist in an blurry middle ground, like Unsuck DC Metro, a thriving blog and Twitter feed that began as a series of rants by an unknown subway rider and evolved into a clearinghouse of news and tips about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
AP Video
Seasonal Content
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Facebook