Oprah joins Twitter, and somehow this is news
Perhaps you've heard by now: On her show Friday, Oprah Winfrey became the latest celebrity to join Twitter.
And, Oprah being Oprah, she didn't just open an account and start tweeting. No, the occasion of the daytime-talk titan signing up for a social-media application that already claims millions of users instead turned into a major portion of her show.
"Millions are hooked on it. Have you heard of Twitter?" Winfrey teased during the opening of the show. "I'm getting ready to send my very first tweet!" Self-proclaimed (or Oprah-proclaimed, anyway) King of Twitter Ashton Kutcher and Twitter CEO Evan Williams were guests on the show, all building up to Winfrey crossing the Twitter threshold herself.
Oprah's first official tweet -- "HI TWITTERS . [sic] THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOME. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY" -- capped a big week of media curiosity about Twitter, in which Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk -- a guest on Winfrey's show Friday) challenged CNN (@CNNbrk) to a race to a million followers, and won. Kutcher cast this as some sort of victory for the little guy, calling it a "commentary on the state of media ... where one person's voice can be as powerful as an entire news network, an entire media network. ... It was almost like an uprising of the Internet, in a way."
Yes, just one little, world-famous celebrity who put great energy into promoting his quest to break the million-follower mark this week can have more people following him on a social-media site -- proving, maybe but not necessarily, that there are a few more people on Twitter who are obsessed with celebrity than there are news junkies. Whee.
But I digress. After all this buildup, and a flurry of tweets during her live Friday show, Winfrey doesn't quite seem to have embraced the Twitterverse yet (she's a busy woman, I know). She's adding followers by the thousands -- by the time I posted this, she was at 150,159 -- but is herself only following nine people -- Kutcher, Demi Moore, George Stephanopoulos, Jimmy Fallon, Shaquille O'Neal, Ellen DeGeneres, Williams and Sheri Salata, Winfrey's executive producer. Her last tweet occurred about 11 a.m. ET, and she doesn't quite appear to have the hang of the @ reply game yet.
If Oprah wants to tweet, and hundreds of thousands of people want to follow her, then bravo. What I don't really get, though, is why Oprah joining Twitter deserved half of her show on Friday (and at least a day of promotion beforehand). Twitter is about the easiest social-media application in the world to use, and if she had just started tweeting and said "Hey, by the way, I'm on Twitter now," people would have found her. That's how it works.
Oprah didn't quite seem to grasp that -- she had to make damn sure we all knew about it. But if any of the stuff her guest Kutcher was spouting about the democratizing power of social media is actually true, she didn't do much to help his case.