Vanity Fair, one of my favorite regular reads, recently published a short article about "America's Tweethearts" - young women who have a lot of followers on Twitter ... and are not coincidentally very attractive. Not that they're popular only because they're attractive - they are some talented people (I know about half of them personally, and adore and respect them) - but Vanity Fair is not exactly in the business of profiling the ugly of society. So, the magazine chose a number of undeniably attractive, Twitter-popular (the value of this is highly questionable too, though no one seems outraged at this aspect of the article) young business women, and wrote what amounts to a quick blog post for a well-respected magazine.
I'll say up front, as someone who knows some of the women, knows about the others, and knows quite a bit about Twitter -- this is a stupid fucking article. Okay?? Got it? I think it's idiotic. It's dumb, it's horrible, it's amateur. I would be embarrassed to have my name on that byline. The article has almost zero useful content to me and to most of the ladies' tech-savvy fans, I'm sure. But so what? What does that mean? Should there really be outrage? There have been innumerable critiques and comments on the Vanity Fair piece (here's one from Salon), and I'm not going to link to them ad nauseum. But generally the mood was "disappointed," as one of the photographed, Felicia Day, commented on her in post, which has already garnered about 200 comments.
Disappointed about what? That Vanity Fair doesn't cover technology well? (It ain't TechCrunch.) That it wasn't an article focused on the ladies' business skills? (It ain't the Wall Street Journal.) That they treated the subjects like cheerleaders? (After they posed together in trench coats in a photo that can only suggest to viewers that they're naked underneath.) Give me a break. It's a silly article about a technology, that while very useful, people still find silly. And the average tweet is silly. The name Twitter is silly. The article reflects society and the magazine's readers, who probably don't use Twitter, and probably think it's silly. WHO CARES. I don't see how this is offensive to Twitter users -- I'm fine with less people understanding a technology that I know how to take advantage of. That's a good thing.
So let's get real about this non-situation. These ladies were the focus of an article published in a print magazine about people and vanity. The magazine doesn't have a track record of understanding technology very well, or using it themselves. The article wasn't guest written by Pete Cashmore, it was written by an author with less than 200 followers on Twitter. What did everyone expect would happen? I suspect that some, like Felicia, were blinded by the idea of being in Vanity Fair and put high hopes above rational expectations. Ladies, disappointed or not, you're in Vanity Fair. I don't care if they made fun of your tweeples and twosses, and focused on your legs, that's still cool. Don't worry about this article -- start plotting your next one. You're clearly all talented and going places. Maybe one of you will even end up running social media operations at Conde Nast -- they need help.
Follow Mark Drapeau on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cheeky_geeky