BY NÍAMH MARLEY
“Traffic ! Aaaggghhh!” This is a tweet posted by a young man from Mullingar, Westmeath. He was doing what thousands of Twitter users do daily, expressing himself in 140 characters. Only, this was no ordinary tweet and no ordinary Twitter user. This simple message of eighteen characters received 22,134 retweets and was ‘favourited’ by over 18,000 people. Why? It was sent by Niall Horan of One Direction.
This message is a prime example of how the most banal details of daily life can become common knowledge. If you’re a celebrity, that is. Horan’s 5.3 million followers ensured that their idol’s frustration at being caught in a snarl of London traffic became plastered across the microblogging site. Days before, pop singer Ed Sheeran tweeted that he was ‘gonna have a siesta.’ 4,559 users decided to share this with their own followers by retweeting it. If the average university student decided to post a similar message after a night out, it is impossible to imagine it commanding the same attention.
Twitter provides us with what we crave. It satiates our longing to be close to our favourite celebrity. For the 14-year-old girl whose bedroom wall is adorned with pictures of the doe-eyed, blond Horan, his simple tweet allows her to be privy to the innermost details of his life. She knows where he is, what he is doing and how he is feeling. 140 characters transform her from fan to friend.
Celebrities are no different to the general public, aside from being well-known for their occupation. If we express little interest in the quotidian activities of our contemporaries, why then are we obsessed with knowing those of celebrities? Do we need to know what they eat for dinner or how they slept? If the retweet statistics are anything to go by, apparently we do.