It makes sense for a famous person who wants to be unburdened from the sludge of trouble that comes with Twitter to operate a burner account. For all its pitfalls, the platform is unmatched in its ability to disseminate information quickly.
Public figures must walk a delicate line. Anything insightful and authentic they say can be put through the Problematic Machine. Anything trite and inoffensive is seen as boring. At the same time, few humans can quell the curious impulses that drive engagement via a made-up account.
So it’s not surprising that Sixers president Bryan Colangelo allegedly had up to five of them, per The Ringer. What is surprising is that he allegedly showed such a tenuous grasp on how Twitter works by choosing to respond from those accounts. The same can be said about Kevin Durant, who had his own episode with fugazzi social media accounts.
These guys operated like the Wet Bandits, leaving obvious clues for investigators to follow. And for what gain? To defend their own honor from a egg profile with a dozen followers? In what world is that worth it?
The willingness to do this leads me to believe that we can’t look at this issue through a rational lens. It’s purely emotional. Celebrities are scratching an itch that must be scratched with burners. There must be some part of them that can’t feel whole until they respond.
This is not a sports story. It’s a human psychology story.
It’d be naive to think these two examples are far flung from the norm. This is the tip of the iceberg. There’s a non-zero chance that troll you’re arguing with online is a One Percenter. It could be the very player you ripped. Or coach you berated for not bunting the tying run to second.
Twitter is the Wild West. Verified accounts are supposed to be akin to sheriff’s badges. But those sheriffs seem to be forming their own burner posses to hunt online for the outlaws who dare question their jurisdiction.
Why is this happening? Interestingly enough, because those in power have largely learned the No. 1 rule of survival in 2018: NEVER TWEET. The problem is that they’ve tried to create a loophole by breaking that rule under the guise of anonymity. So maybe the No. 2 rule should be NEVER TWEET FROM THOSE EITHER.
Do I expect things to change? No.
Twitter has a bizarre hold over people. Some of the richest and most powerful people in the world just can’t quit it. Donald Trump, atop that list, maintains it as his favorite hobby. Elon Musk, who could be doing anything he wants at any moment, including blasting stuff into space, willingly spends his time complaining about press coverage on the platform.
Whatever Twitter is doing to the human brain will take years to cure, if we ever get there. Everyone, of course, understands the one true prescription for the madness but can’t abstain.
Burner accounts or not, it’s a hell of a drug.