Image: Edgar Allan Poe
Hulton Archive  /  Getty Images
Edgar Allan Poe ( 1809 - 1849 ) is pictured here in life. In death, he recently tweeted, "Emerson called his beloved philosophy Transcendentalism. Sounds like the label one would pin on a nomadic dental hygienist." Oh, snap!
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 4/6/2009 9:05:51 AM ET 2009-04-06T13:05:51

Hey Twitter, the widow of the president of Nigeria asked me to tell you that she’s got 12 Million dollars for you if you stop screwing with fake celebrities on your service!

If the meteoric rise, banishment and quiet return of Twitter’s best and most popular fake Christopher Walken (@ClusterWalken nee @cwalken) taught us anything it’s this: “Gullible” isn’t in the dictionary.

Who, these days, thinks that only celebrities are speedy enough to register their user names on the Internet's hottest new sites? If you’re among them, would you please quit using the Web? Maybe then companies like Twitter won't have an excuse to ban the hilarious fake celebs merrily tweeting away, and generally improving the Twitter-sphere-o-highway-net.

Do you (or Twitter) really believe that Edgar Allan Poe is rap-tap-tapping away on his iPhone from his rotting coffin in Baltimore? Is @TheWaltWhitman actually, “a legendary [BLEEP]ing poet ” who’s, “come back from the grave to expound upon your magnificent asses”? And for the love of @god, who do you think is tweeting behind … well you get the picture?

Fakers can, after all, only steal an identity if the gaping audience at large is dull enough to believe that @cwalken, the guy who’s dropping absurd Zen koans like, “It's partially my fault that the cat answers to ‘Martin.’ I believe his name is actually ‘Pookie’ but I won't call a cat that,really is Christopher Walken.

And it’s not just ‘Net newbies so ready, willing and able to swallow a fake load of hooey. Take the exploits of clever Twitter troll Matt Cherette. He recently raked the exposed nerves of sensitive Twitter fanboys and inadvertently punked E!’s alleged comedienne Chelsea Handlerby posing as celebrity mom Dina Lohan on an extended rant regarding the unfairness of Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Hopefully, the new bio for the recently re-emerged fake Christopher Walken will ensure that Twitter’s most gifted user – real or poseur — won’t get booted again. (@ClusterWalken: “This is a parody. You'd have to work for Twitter not to see that.”)  Still, most of the best fake celebrities haven’t been forced (yet?) into posting full declaration bios.

If you’re still confused, here’s a simple way to tell whether the star you’re following is the real thing. Are the alleged celebrity’s tweets funny and entertaining, with a palpable sense of self-awareness and wit? Full on fake then, and by default, well worth following. Oh, and Twitter, if you’re still confused, the fake celebs are the ones who cannot afford a publicist to announce that the @fakeAccount everyone’s following isn’t really them.

Facebook survival guide for awkward adultsA multitude of mainstream media stories about celebrity Twelf-indulgence revealed the truth we’ve long suspected: Dang, but famous people are dull! The vast majority of honest-to-goodness celebs operate, with little variation, from this template: “rambling thought … rambling thought … something I did … song lyric … emoticon… rambling thought ….” Despite an enviable lifestyle well worth describing, most celebrities on Twitter — even those like Britney Spears who hire Harvard grads to ghostwrite tweets — get their high-colonic cleansed butts handed to them from online imposters daily.

To illustrate, let’s compare and contrast. Here, an alleged tweet string from Lindsay Lohan illustrating her protracted live-on-Twitter breakup with D.J. Samantha Ronson:

"should you end it if the one person in the world fails to love, hold/comfort, apologize, and CHERISH you the night before jail? LIARS R COWARDS cuz they don't know what they got til it is far gone. and people-if you [expletive redacted] love someone. PUT UR PRIDE A-[expletive redacted] -SIDE AND JUST LOVE THEM BACK! do not ever dj before calling if they RE [expletive redacted] ABOUT TO GET ARRESTED FOR CHASING YOU TO MAKE YOU [verb redacted … in the hopes of making this [expletive redacted]-ing tweet slightly more interesting. Good grief Lindsay, good grief!]"

Next, let’s read a recent Twitter smackdown between two literary figures of enormous fame:

Edgar_Allan_Poe: @TheWaltWhitman is an overrated hackneyed scribbler with an inflated ego. Feed his innards to an Ourang-Outang!

TheWaltWhitman: @Edgar_Allan_Poe Behoove it to the laudanum bottle, junkie.

Obviously, I should hope, these gifted tweeps aren’t really who they say they are. Luckily, their eponymous namesakes are dead to the point that no one cares (or so I hope — Twitter don’t you twuck this up for us too!). Still, they provide an example of how much more interesting fake celebs are than real ones. 

Demi Moore, for example, is receiving accolades for re-tweeting a missive from an unbalanced fan threatening to do herself harm. Non-famous users following Moore’s feed then summoned help and thankfully ensured the woman’s safety.

A thoughtful faux famous person on Twitter — say fake Tom Cruise — would have no doubt handled it differently. Channeling the real life heroics of his inspiration, fake Tom Cruise would’ve jumped through the Internet to save the imperiled from harm. (Note to self: Consider replacing OnStar with fake Tom Cruise Twitter feed.)

Yes, yes there are exceptions to the unfortunate tweets of the famous. Two notable celebrities of considerable Twitter talent occupy extreme ends of the archetypical spectrum — something for everyone perhaps. For the sports-inclined, there is the much ballyhooed Shaquille O’Neal, benevolent ruler over what he cleverly calls “Twitteronia” as @THE_REAL_SHAQ. Doubt it’s him? He’ll full-on transmit his coordinates, as two Phoenix, Ariz. netizens famously found out after they went to a local diner to confirm his recent tweet.

Once the surprised pair arrived, Shaq fat-fingered this invitation to his table: To all twitterers, if u c me n public come say hi, we r not the same we r from twitteronia, we connect”

Representing the less-athletically inclined is proto-blogger, Twitter early adopter and king of all nerdom Wil Wheaton (@wilw aka young Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation). FYI: Wheaton recently prevailed in the Geek Madness competition, and was declared Secretary of Geek Affairs. As a writer, he offers a bounty of insightful, sometimes self-effacing — comments on politics, gaming, computers and cyberlife in general. Here’s an amusing tweet regarding his recent radio interview:

@wilw: “Radio Guy: ‘What's on a twenty-sided die?" Me: "The numbers one through twenty.”

Again, @TheRealShaq and @WilWheaton represent the extreme exception. Meanwhile, the standard of celebrity tweeting is well-illustrated by the unfettered brain discharge of Mr. John Mayer, roundly overrated in most any of his endeavors, Twitter to say the least. Somewhere between his one-sided Twitter conversation with Pete Wentz and other acolytes, Mayer dropped this science:

@johncmayer: “once I start chewing my nails and thinking I can keep biting them until they've become round and smooth, I know I've already lost.”

This is the man who prefers to tweet rather than date Jennifer Aniston … ok, fair enough.  And such content might even qualify as classy when held in comparison to the feed of Ashton Kutcher, who recently took the time to twitpic an image of wife Demi Moore’s white-pantied behind:

Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk): shhh don't tell wifey http://twitpic.com/2bj58

Sigh. Give me fake Charles Darwin tweeting in “real time” aboard the HMS Beagle any day:

@cdarwn: The largest bush in the island (belonging to the family of Compositae) http://tinyurl.com/d65x95 is scarcely so tall as our gorse

After all, you’re following celebs because they do something else well(ish). You’ll hear about the fakes because they’re good at tweeting. Now tell your users not to be so daft and quit mucking up the good tweets for the rest of us Twitter!

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