On Saturday afternoon, November 19, 2016, I began tweeting rhymes set to the tune of the Gaston song from Disney’s Beauty & The Beast animated movie. This began a descent into madness marked by a downward spiral completely out of control — I changed my Twitter identity completely, and tweeted nothing but “Gaston” and Gaston-related imagery for several days.
On Friday, November 25, 2016, I restored my account.
In the meantime, I lost about 150 followers.
As with anything unusual that is done, half the fun was in the reactions I received. And I certainly received: From people going along with the joke and asking if I was okay, to those taking it far too seriously, and everything in between, my mentions remained a-buzz for the duration.
Mostly, it was all harmless and reasonable. People annoyed? I get that. People confused? Okay. People conjecturing as to some deeper motivation I had? Amusing. People feeling they had the right to speak on my behalf and butt into conversations so they could offer their oh-so-keen insight as to what I was ‘actually’ up to? Less amusing, but rare.
Oh, and the stream of people thinking they were telling me about @Botston for the first time. Oh my gosh. Yes, I am aware of it. Shhhh.
It was just a fun thing, overall, but it did confirm a prior finding: People CANNOT HANDLE IT when you change your username.
That’s the one single most determining factor in Twitter behavior that guarantees a loss of followers.
You’re mostly speaking to an echo chamber of like-minded people anyway, so espousing your views (political or otherwise) won’t do it. Silence won’t do it, as nobody will remember to bother unfollowing you.
But, gosh, change your username and people flip out.
I already went through this with @SkirmishFrogs (and wrote about it for that site), but it was still so interesting to me to see people screencap the Gaston_Legend account and ask foreboding things like, “Why are 15 thousand people following this account? And how did I start following?!”
People get unnerved, believing that Twitter is somehow acting on their behalf, like some sort of malevolent ghoul, out to control their social media followings. The horror!
I mean, like, I guess I wouldn’t go so far as to say it should be common sense (?) to know that you can change your username, but it still surprised me to see the extent that it freaks people out. You really have to sit people down and say “hey Twitter lets you change usernames” for them to understand that, I suppose.
So, uh, that’s my only real takeaway, and a few people asked if I lost followers/how many did I lose, so there you have it. Sure, I lost some, but not as many for the reason you may think. I didn’t learn any profound lesson, just confirmed suspicions on people. And I didn’t actually go crazy, silly. It really was all just for kicks and giggles. Going ‘too far’ with stuff is something I’ve been notorious for, and for most of my life. Maybe some would be well served to remember that.
Otherwise, I’m back now. Hi. See ya on my next crazy adventure!
EDIT: Oh, quick little additional story!
The scariest part was when I went about restoring the accounts… I switched the placeholder @Nintendo_Legend just fine. So then, it came time to switch @Gaston_Legend to @Nintendo_Legend.
Only, when I did that, I got a message saying that my account was locked due to detecting spam-like behavior.
It may sound pathetic, but I admit, my belly had a little fluttery moment and my eyes widened in horror. I was like NO NO NO for a minute — but then it gave me the handy option to just confirm my account with my phone number, which I did, and I think everything turned out fine.
But, whew, for that moment… terror! Ha.