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Is There Room at the Table for the Fake Followers Among Us?

Buy Followers!

One of many robo-concierges polluting Twitter and willing to assist with your shallow self-image needs.

My favorite piece of journalism so far this year was just published January 27th over at the New York Times and struck a nerve in a number of places. In an epic-length article entitled “The Follower Factory”, the NYT plumbed the wobbly world of Twitter and those peculiar, insecure users who boost their Follower head count by paying a company actual money to bless them with hundreds of thousands of automated “bot” accounts that pretend they’re fans clinging on to their every tweet, for the purpose of making the paying customers look more popular. Some are piecemeal accounts, with profiles barely filled out. Quite a few are the product of surface-level identity theft, cribbing photos and usernames but with a character altered to make it unique (relatively speaking). They don’t praise you, go forth in your name, act as your “street team”, or interact with you or other humans in any meaningful way. They just Follow. They sit there, shut up, and act like you rule.

Companies such as Devumi cheerfully offer low-price options for ordinary web-surfing rabble like me, but they also bank some major cash selling bot followings by the hundreds of thousands to B-list celebrities, politicians, creators, reality TV dwellers, and others at varying levels of fame. The NYT named a few names I recognize — actor John Leguizamo, Chef Michael Symon, onetime MST3K guest star Kathy Ireland, and film critic Richard Roeper, whose Chicago Sun-Times reviews have been suspended pending their internal review. Of those who responded to requests for comment, a few buyers insisted it wasn’t them personally pushing the buttons, but an assistant or social media manager who bought a hollow audience on their behalf for PR strategy or whatever. Whether their deflections are true or not, boosts of fake fame are kind of sad. Granted, some personalities receive perks and bonuses from their corporate overlords based on the looks of their social media metrics, which means a return on their invidious investment is entirely possible. To them I imagine it’s all part of the Game.

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Subgenius in France

Les Témoins d'Outre-Mer!

Look, ma! I’m a talking head on live TV!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last December after the untimely, tragic, wholly unfair death of Carrie Fisher, a reporter from our local ABC affiliate asked me for an on-air interview about the time my wife Anne and I met her at Indiana Comic Con 2015 and had the most unforgettable convention experience of our lives. My evening news interview was unexpected, it was surreal, and it was effectively my television debut.

This week, for another unexpected and surreal minute, I found myself on TV again. But this time, Midlife Crisis Crossover took to the international airwaves.

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A Day in the Waiting Rooms

Mom.

Last Friday we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. when the waiting room doors were supposed to open. The nurses were running a bit behind, leaving us waiting on the waiting room. While I paced back and forth, Mom sat quietly and tried to compose herself before her big transplant operation.

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Our 1000th Rainy Day of 2017

Severe Thunderstorm Warning!

Local forecasters interrupted Friday night’s episode of Beat Shazam. We weren’t even paying attention to Academy Award Winner Jamie Foxx’s new job, but we were annoyed anyway.

A brief poem about our local weather so far this year:

Rain, rain, go away!

Come again some other day!

No, not that day.

No, not that day too.

No, not that one either. Or that one. Or that one.

Stop, rain. Just stop.

OKAY, RAIN, KNOCK IT OFF.

…sigh. Blub. Gurgle. Blub.

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The Worlds Outside Our Hotel Windows

Chicago River!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: back in April my wife and I attended C2E2 in Chicago. Rather than stay in the adjacent hotels where all the drunken partying happens, which has nothing to with us, instead I found a nice deal through AAA to stay at the positively luxurious Swissotel Chicago, just north of Millennium Park. Our 26th-floor room had the largest windows we’ve ever seen in a hotel room from the inside. To the northeast of us, that’s the Chicago River down below. In the distance you’ll note the Ferris wheel at the Navy Pier out on on Lake Michigan. Grandiose stuff.

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The Unkindest Roads

Birdseye.

For all we talk about road trips, sometimes the open road is not our friend. Last Saturday it was determined to be the enemy.

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