The Land :: www.TheLandOnline.com

Nuts & Bolts

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
Nuts & Bolts
  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Afghanistan vet who ran to grenade gets Medal of Honor

    A former Marine Corps corporal who was severely wounded when he risked his life to shield a squad mate from a grenade blast in Afghanistan was awarded the nation's highest military decoration Thursday.

    June 20, 2014

  • May 2014 was the hottest may in recorded history

    According to new data released this week, May 2014 is officially the warmest May in recorded history.
    Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency have tentatively ranked May at the top of historical measurements, though NASA's numbers are preliminary because crucial information is still missing from China.

    June 20, 2014

  • Nelly-elephant.jpg Bet the farm: 5 'psychic' animals predict soccer victories

    Need some guidance on whom to place your bets for this year's World Cup? Since Paul the Octopus achieved a prediction success rate of 85 percent in 2010, hosts of animal oracles around the world have sought attention as soccer sages. Here's a look at a few of them.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Is the FDA waging a war on artisanal cheese?

    Is the Food and Drug Administration waging a war on artisanal cheese?
    The answer depends on your perspective. But this much is certain: The agency's answer to New York regulators about using wooden boards to age cheese has caused an uproar in the domestic industry and raised questions about the status of imported cheeses that use the same process.

    June 12, 2014

  • Texting while driving is latest teen risk as smoking declines

    While smoking among American teens has fallen to a 22-year low, most adolescents admit to engaging in a new type of risky behavior: texting while driving.

    June 12, 2014

  • No one is against devoted dads

    Father's Day is Sunday, which means that it's time for pundits and politicians to scold the American public - with special ire reserved for black members of the American public - for our supposed indifference to the wonder and awe of fatherhood.

    June 12, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg College World Series finally onto baseball-like scores

    College baseball deadened its aluminum bats three years ago, deflating the game's offense and dialing back runaway scores. Fans who watch this year's College World Series may actually catch a shutout, or even a pitchers' duel.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeffrey Land mg.jpg Tough scrape: Inmate faces new charges after failed escape try

    An inmate at a Georgia detention center could spend more time behind bars after officials said he tried to use a piece of metal to cut through his cell wall in an apparent escape attempt.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
The Land's Twitter Feed