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August 27, 2012

Vermont's Fake Twitter Accounts: A Field Guide


You may have heard about @THISISVT, the new Twitter account which will be operated by a different Vermont citizen each week. It was created by the state Department of Tourism in the vein of @Sweden and @NewZealand, but hopefully without the awkward moments. Picking a citizen to temporarily act as the voice of a polity is officially trending.

@THISISVT's goal of representing Vermont through the real voices of Vermonters is a noble one. But you know what's more fun? Fake voices. More specifically, the jokey Twitter accounts that come about through anthropomorphizing the creatures and machines that populate our state. They're a critical part of the Twitter ecosystem, making sure that it can't be taken too seriously in the midst of all the self-promotion and buzzwords. Sure, they're probably a waste of time — but at least they're fun! (Usually.)

Here's a brief guide to the parody accounts that populate our local Twittersphere. Give 'em a follow if you don't already.

(Note: This list does not include Twitter accounts purporting to belong to pets or newborns. Parents, please don’t pretend to be your child on social media.)



@BTVSnowDragon. The Burlington DPW’s cute little sidewalk-sized snowplow didn’t have much to do this past winter, so it had plenty of time to learn the art of tweeting. This little machines musings on Burlington life and plow-shaped smiley faces — :] — made it a fast favorite in local social-media circles. It’s not an official account of the Department of Public Works, but it could serve as a model for public agencies on how to creatively engage on social media — and we suspect the Snow Dragon gave its interplanetary cousin, the Mars Curiosity rover, a few tweeting tips before launch.



@BTVDustBunny. Here’s @BTVSnowDragon’s warm-weather counterpart, a street sweeper. This account first popped up in the spring around the city’s annual “Operation Clean Sweep” street cleaning project, but it hasn’t quite got the cult following that the sidewalk plow does. 



@BigJoeStatue. Twitter has a way of resurrecting the dead (or prematurely killing the living), but this might be the first account that gives life to a statue of a dead man. Big Joe is the newest joke Twitter account on the block, so tweets are scarce for now, but any character who's stuck permanently people-watching on Church Street has potential for high comedy.


@JimDouglasVT. Parody accounts are a classic staple of Twitter — see @Queen_UK, @NotTildaSwinton and the all-time best Twitter account ever, @MayorEmanuel for the finest examples. In that vein, here's an account parodying Vermont's previous governor, which 7D news editor Andy Bromage wrote about last year. Sadly, this Douglas wannabe breaks Twitter rules by failing to announce its parody status and, worse, fails miserably at being funny. Maybe because Jim Douglas is the kind of milquetoast figure that's too boring to joke about?


@VermontEmu. Remember the emu that was running free around the Champlain Islands last year? Yeah, it had its own Twitter account, carrying on a curiously close relationship with @BTVSnowDragon. Sadly, the account was abruptly shut down when the real-life emu turned up dead. Awkward.



@SouthUnionSkunk. After repeated reports of a skunk on the loose on S. Union St., this wannabe Pepe Le Pew got an online personification of its own. Who knew skunks could be so sensitive? Or that they liked PBR so much?



@Champ_Lain. Of course the monster at the bottom of Lake Champlain is tweeting — and in true Twitter fashion, the grammar is suspect. Dear old Champ hasn't tweeted much in the past year, though in all fairness, it's tough to type with flippers.



@vtcoatroom. Anthropomorphizing animals and machines is so last year. Now we're on to rooms. The Statehouse coatroom is where legislators and citizens famously mingle, and this account keeps followers updated on all the happenings under the Golden Dome. We're certain, though, that there's more gossip told in the coatroom that deserves to be tweeted.

Got another whimsical Twitter account we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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