Campus / News / April 8, 2010

Knox’s average 21st century celebrity

A seemingly unimportant decision that junior Katie Johnston made during her sophomore year at Knox would eventually turn her into somewhat of a cyber celebrity. Johnston created a Twitter account.

“I started using it as a place where I put my weird little thoughts throughout the day,” said Johnston. At first, when she began, she behaved as the average Twitter user, following friends and celebrities. But then, hundreds of people started following her.

Currently, there are over 2,650 people following Johnston’s account, which means they track her updates and have to option to “star” and comment on her updates.

“It’s really strange that 2,600 people are interested in my fart jokes,” said Johnston.

Twitter forces the account holders to express their thoughts in “updates” using no more than 140 characters. Some people use it as a social media to communicate with distant friends while others use it for self-promotion. Johnston uses it to hone her writing skills.

“You have to think of a joke and make it work in 140 characters,” said Johnston. “It’s kind of an interesting exercise in writing.”

Johnston has received recognition for her tweets from several different media sources. The CNN Web site included one of her tweets in the “Top Tweets about Traveling.” She was also included in a book about Twitter wit.

“[Tweets in the book] is a mix of celebrities and people with a couple hundred followers,” said Johnston. She received a free copy of the book as a result of her contribution.

Now, Johnston updates her Twitter on average two times a day, sometimes commenting on daily occurrences while other times making jokes about national news. This past year, she began attending conferences for frequent Twitter users called Tweet-ups. They are organized by individuals who use Twitter and want to find a common space to meet their favorite Twitter users face-to-face.

Johnston has attended Tweet-ups in Chicago, though they are held around the country. The first time she went, the event was held in one open area for people to converse. Since then, it has grown into a two-day event that includes fieldtrips to places like the Shedd Aquarium.

“I’ve started to get to know other people who write funny things,” said Johnston. “I’m actually pretty young compared to most of [the Tweet-up attendants].”

There is an entire community on Twitter now that motivates Johnston to continue updating with different witty comments. She enjoys the challenge of coming up with different ways to make people laugh.

“Really look around because there are a lot of interesting people to follow,” said Johnston.

Johnston’s top tweets:

*Travel Tweet featured on CNN: “Getting up at 4am to fly to Ireland and visit a Guinness factory. Because remembering vacations is lame, that’s why.”

*Top “starred” Tweets:

“I’ll lend you my attention, but it’ll be at 0% interest.”-506

“If this cough were any less productive, it would probably get its own Twitter account.”-303

“Maine continues to take drastic steps to deny its same-sex feelings for New Hampshire. Shh, shh, Maine. Just let it happen.”-173

“You guys. My parents just tried to explain Twitter to me.”-147

“I like cats because there just aren’t enough people who will sit on your lap and lick themselves for an hour. For free, at least.”-122

Laura Miller

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