Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hoax Week On Twitter!

One thing I like about Twitter is that it allows me to get the news in real time. Well, the other day, the news was of a balloon that escaped apparently with a child on board. The boy, who became known as "Balloon Boy", turned out to be hiding in a box in the attic. Then it all turned out to be a hoax. The hoaxer was the father, a narcissistic attention whore obsessed with reality television, a misogynist who became a star of the reality TV series Wife Swap, who wanted to become famous before the world ends in 2012. Now "RIP Kanye West" is trending, and it turns out to be another fake celebrity death prank courtesy those pranksters at 4chan.

This is starting to get annoying.

Face it. Twitter's trends can be gamed. 4chan proved it when they put the hashtag #gorillapenis among the top trending topics. The Kanye West death hoax is far from the first to deceive people this year; this last summer, Rick Astley and Jeff Goldblum were allegedly dead. This time, 4chan merely pranked the Internet, specifically Twitter and Google. But Richard Heene pulled his hoax on the cops, the National Guard, the news media (especially the cable news networks), the Internet — indeed, the whole world — just because he wanted to fulfill his mad desire to become famous before the world ends.

Those 4chan guys pull their pranks for the "lulz". But the "Balloon Boy Incident" is what happens when the desire for fame becomes all-consuming and destroys one's sanity. Richard Heene is so obsessed with becoming a celebrity that he's willing to risk his family's lives, and in fact he even has a history of violence. In fact, I nominate him as worst celebrity parent in the world.

As for the 4chan guys: Some guy obsessed with becoming a reality TV celebrity outpranked them. And he didn't do it for mere "lulz"; he did it because he was driven by a monster ego. How can they possibly outdo him? Of course, they couldn't resist inserting themselves into the Balloon Boy hoax and pranking Heene himself; they even delivered pizza! Already I can see a bunch of pranksters, their own egos offended by being outdone by some celebrity wannabe, plotting their biggest prank ever in the chatrooms of /b/...

Heene won't be the last celebrity-mad egomaniac who will pull a fast one on the authorities and the media for the sake of fame. In fact, this might only be the beginning of a trend. Celebrity death hoaxes are starting to look mundane in comparison, though you and I know people will do them as long as there's celebrities.

Of course I'm waiting for the next hoax to trend #1 on Twitter. Stay tuned...

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