Well then, this is a thing huh?
There have been all sorts of twists and turns, so for my own benefit as much as anyone else's, let's break it down.
Thursday. The story hitting the BBC was where it started. I got a few new followers, a bunch of kind messages. This is cool. This is totally cool. Well written, fact checked, a nice little fun story. Something you'd see on That's Life. I'm a dog that says sausages.
Then thenextweb.com picked up the story, and from there, the internet news cycle sent the story worldwide. I started getting messages and followers from Mexico and China and Spain and Russia.
There was a crucial difference between the two stories though. The BBC pointed out that I was going to stop at 150. That was my end goal. Thenextweb reported that I was meeting EVERYONE. My follower count doubled overnight.
I'm 4 followers away from hitting 150. Part of me was quite looking forward to finishing so I could start working on writing the show. Also, I start a masters degree in two weeks so I kind of need to focus a little.
But now I have all these new people following me from all over the world. I'm sure they're all fascinating and smart and I definitely want to chat with them, and clearly a bunch of them were keen to chat with me. So I came up with a compromise.
150 is the end of the story. It's the punctuation mark of a project I started back in January. However, I'm going to continue doing the #meetandtweet's with new people too. Maybe make it a monthly feature on the blog. This is totally manageable. I only have 450 followers, I could just take my time with it. Plus now all the news stories were out there so I wasn't getting anymore followers.
Friday. Around 5.30pm my follower count exploded. In twenty minutes, it went from 470 ish to 12,800. This is ridiculous. I was bemused as to how this happened. I sent out a tweet asking anyone who had followed me in the past 20 minutes how they heard about it.
I only got one response, and it was incredibly offensive, but the tone was basically 'Hey man, I didn't follow you, you're cheating, you're buying followers!'
I initially dismissed it as just regular internet aggression, but when I started checking a few of the people who had followed me, I noticed many of them had been inactive for years. Or had only 1 or 2 tweets. They were zombie accounts. The exact type of accounts you'd get if you were to buy them.
I'd been trolled.
Imagine you're some mischievous dude with skills and time, and you see some story about a guy who wants to meet his twitter followers. What would be funnier than buying 12000 followers and latching them onto his account?
Again, this is all an assumption, but it seems to make sense. Both the nature of the people following, the sudden explosion, and the logic of the troll To be fair, it is quite funny.
The main annoying thing about it is that the story has popped again today after being in the Independent and the Daily Mail. (Please don't take this as an endorsement of the Mail. The guy that I chatted with was really nice but It's a terrible newspaper with no morality.)
Anyway, the point is I've got a fresh batch of new followers today that are probably cool and interesting but trying to parse them from the 12000 fakes is going to be tricky. I'll figure it out though.
Saturday. I've got a bunch more nice messages from folk today. (Some brutal ones too thanks to DM's comment section.) I appreciate them all but for real I'm not inspiring or amazing. It's totally cool if you think that, and thanks, but really I just had an idle notion on an afternoon, somebody noticed and THE INTERNET did the rest.
So yeah, we're up to date.
When I started this whole thing the only goals I had in mind were that I thought it'd be fun, and I thought it'd be a good story to tell. It's delivered both in spades.
Right, I'm gonna step away from the internet for a bit because to be honest, I'm getting pretty sick of the sight of me.