Want a fun way to pass the time? Pretend to be a hockey insider on Twitter and people will eat it up. That’s exactly what happened last night, when a few friends and I were sitting around bored, and I posted the following: “Hearing Rick Nash has been traded to the New York Rangers.
#NYR #CBJ #DONEDEAL”. Within five minutes, I was inundated with requests for more information, re-tweets, and new followers. The next morning, it got worse: I gained hundreds of followers, and Tweets, probably numbering in the thousand, just flowed in. I then had people attacking me, defending me; the carousel going ’round and ’round. So this is what it is like to be Eklund or those others who have built mega-accounts with thousands of followers, claiming to be people in the business so they can rack up attention? I was truly amazed at how it caught fire, and now I know why lying or being intentionally vague is so popular. I always knew the frenzy one single person could cause with a 140-characters-or-less message, but I wanted to see it first hand, for it to be both something to write about and something people can learn from.
So, why did I do this? To give fans high blood pressure? To bask in the attention? No, just to prove a point that no one on Twitter can be trusted except for the people who actually work for real sports outlets, and if something is too good to be true, like a 21-year-old blogger with no aspirations of being a sports journalist and just writing as a hobby, breaking the biggest trade of the year before TSN, it’s probably not. There are so many accounts popping up which people just go gaga over, and it is scary because it shows how desperate people are for any shred of news, no matter how tiny or major. People want to see what they want to see, and I gave them exactly what they were looking for. What did people actually do before Twitter? Did they explode and die? They simply had to remain patient, something which is dead in today’s world.
It quickly became a game of telephone. Though I remained extremely vague, not mentioning any players involved or particulars (as for the “someone not brought up yet” quip, how do I know who you have been bringing up?), people were quick to concoct a trade scenario to fit their liking. Once they did that, other people caught on and it just ballooned. The rolling stone gathered moss. Just take a look at some of my Tweets which caused this frenzy:
- Didn’t read it anywhere. My source just called me. Will be announced tomorrow.
#DONEDEAL Agreed upon in principle.
- Not my problem. Many factors involved.
- It’s what my sources tell me. They are close to the situation.
- You should be [excited]. I can’t wait for it to become public. People may be weary at first, but will soon be excited.
- That’s all for tonight guys. Everyone involved is asleep…except the multiple players packing. At least draft picks don’t carry luggage.
I then left people with one final cookie crumb after hours of sarcasm, and still, the majority let it slip right over their heads:
It may have been obvious to a lot of people that this was all a plot (the #DONEDEAL hash-tag borrowed from other “fake” reporters). I even posted song lyrics with certain words in caps and that sent people into a tizzy as they thought it was some kind of code. Also, I want to thank several major hockey blogs for keeping their mouth shut after I informed them, and some for helping to spread the Tweets around for this experiment to really take off. As I said earlier, in their desperation, people will believe absolutely anything—they must be the first to know. All they need to do is read a Tweet that someone “in the know” is “hearing something” but being vague about it. That gets the wood burning, and from there, the world is their oyster and their opinion will quickly become fact, spread to other Tweeters, writers, message board users, etc, change a little bit, before becoming fact again. It happens every single off-season, and will no doubt continue as there is no end to stupid people.
People may hate me for this, but that is their prerogative, as at least I was comfortable enough to release this was an experiment. Then again, what if Nash actually did get traded the next day? I would be a genius, immediately vaulted to the top of the rumor totem pole. If I was wrong, I could immediately flip just like everyone else does and say that family matters came into the equation, or something in the deal changed at the last moment and the entire thing fell through, and that there are now five obvious teams still in the running for said player. Either way, I hope this is a wake up call to all those who fancifully waste their lives following these people on Twitter. Thanks for the laugh, everyone!
And all this happened after midnight! Imagine if I did this during the height of the work day. See, I do have a heart after all.