A chorus of Twitter elite got really angry on Friday when an opportunistic user decided to register @GowanusDolphin, a horrible account that premised itself on a dolphin trapped in New York's murky Gowanus Canal. Update: The dolphin died.
Not sure how I feel about parody account @gowanusdolphin. Poor guy. Don't find funny at all.— Craig Kanalley (@ckanal) January 25, 2013
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this @gowanusdolphin account is far worse than the Holocaust.— Joel Johnson (@joeljohnson) January 25, 2013
It's because we all laughed at the fake Rahm Emanuel guy that these fucking things exist. We brought @gowanusdolphin on ourselves.— Cord Jefferson (@cordjefferson) January 25, 2013
The offender, who has since apologized for being a jerk, learned his lesson the hard way. Don't let the same fate befall you. Here, four helpful tips for creating a successful* Twitter parody account should the opportunity ever arise again:
1. Don't use animals
Remember @BronxZooCobra fondly? Neither do we. Predicating your shiny new Twitter handle on a headline-grabbing animal is difficult for two reasons: (a) Animals don't talk. You're creating its voice from scratch; and (b) People tend to like animals more than they like other people, so as a rule of thumb, you should probably be making fun of actual human beings.
2. Don't base it on news
When a mild 5.9-magnitude earthquake rattled New York in 2010, Twitter exploded with parody accounts. ("Boom!" and "Whoa!" and that sort of nonsense.) None of them were funny. None of them were sustainable. Take a lesson from Bloomberg social media director (and the web's leading voice in parody account hatred) Jared Keller:
If you create a parody account within fifteen minutes of a news event you are the worst person on the planet and I hate you.— Jared Keller (@jaredbkeller) January 25, 2013
3. Be funny
Ha ha, you have to actually be funny, which is easier said than done. And "humor," as we all know, is 100 percent subjective and varies from person to person, NOT TO MENTION it requires constant mental dexterity that 99.99 percent of the population simply isn't cut out for. So make it easy for yourself. Self-impose some parameters and employ a weird spin like @NYTOnIt or @__MICHAELJ0RDAN. Maybe you'll even get a book deal! (Probably not.)
4. You probably shouldn't make a parody account
Ignore everything I just said. Don't make one. Sorry.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How to make classic pulled pork
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How The Killing survived two cancellations and ended on its own terms
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- Don't vote for Andrew Cuomo
Subscribe to the Week