Last week, a prankster hijacked the Twitter account for Burger King, claiming that the fast food chain was sold to McDonald's due to employees' drug-fueled shenanigans. This sale would've made sense, as psychedelic freakouts have historically been the Golden Arches' bailiwick.
You see that unwashed dwarf? He's where the Shamrock Shakes come from.
And thanks to the surge of Internet rubberneckers, Burger King reaped a windfall of thousands of new followers, jumping from approximately 80,000 last week to give or take 110,000 presently. This raises an infinitely more interesting issue -- who were these insane people following Burger King before the hack? And more broadly, who the hell follows fast food chains' Twitter feeds?
Most of us go through our daily existence fleeing from commercial incursion. We instinctively DVR skip, ad block, and mute button the shit out of any yappy avatars of late-stage capitalism. So it's kind of mind-boggling that A) the McDonald's Twitter feed is just shy of a million followers and B) some combination of 94 people and/or spambots felt compelled to retweet a half-assed Instagram of an Egg McMuffin.
"Please retweet this ad for a sandwich that's readily available on every continent except Antarctica."
Mind you, neither the Burger King nor the McDonald's Twitter feed is a nonstop barrage of contests and coupons. When money-saving opportunities do appear, they're laughably parsimonious. A recent promo for Fish McBites boasted, "If we receive over 300 [retweets], we'll give 10 people a taste!" Of all the ways to shave $2.50 out of your "fried fish orb" budget, this is by far the most byzantine.
Nor are these Twitter feeds preoccupied with addressing customers' borderline incoherent complaints (as the Wendy's and Panera accounts do). No, the Burger King and McDonald's accounts fulfill a need much more visceral than McRibs -- companionship. How else do you explain interactions like this?
Half of them have "the McDonald's Twitter account" listed as their emergency contact.
Who the hell do these people think they're talking to? McDonald's CEO Don Thompson? A laptop possessed by the ghost of Maurice McDonald? Mayor McCheese? This is like having a conversation with the Valpak you get in the mail. What inspires such familiarity? Do they have Stockholm syndrome from years of eating at highway rest stops? This bizarre cordialness isn't unique to burger chains -- the Applebee's Twitter account does the same thing more consistently, but jabbers like a halfwit cousin of McDonald's.
Read this in the voice of a talking pile of half-priced mozzarella sticks.
Mind you, we don't begrudge those social media managers helming fast food companies' Twitter accounts. Upon getting their business degrees, some of these poor bastards assumed that life would become a helium-voiced-secretary plow-a-thon overseen by the Hegelian world spirit of Don Draper. Now they're forced to interact day in, day out with bored and lonely strangers who desperately want to discuss the Filet-O-Fish. It's purgatory for PR agents.
We realize that some hellraisers follow McDonald's for the express purpose of knocking a multibillion-dollar corporation down a peg, one sarcastic tweet at a time. Similarly, some of these followers are folks with AOL email addresses who remember the Kennedy assassination. And yet others are algorithms masquerading as chatty fitness models.
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But among those followers who aren't hecklers, over 65, or code, there are people who have signed up -- of their own volition -- for a steady stream of corporate patter from McDonald's. Moreover, they're essentially subscribing to the Pravda of McDonaldland, which is completely divorced from the experience of eating at a real McDonald's. If the McD's Twitter account was aiming for veracity, it would be a police blotter of daily occurrences at McDonald's restaurants around the globe, like "Stoned teenager keeps asking for pizza in Stamford, CT" and "Yellowknife franchise is filled with owls, staff helpless and scared."
One final stray observation -- we combed through a lot of boring corporate Twitter accounts in researching this article. The only one that's maybe worth following is Charmin, and that's solely because it's written from the perspective of a scat-obsessed bear who tells jokes without punchlines.
Each tweet is like a great lost Berenstain Bears novel.
You can follow Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter.