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Ashton Kutcher is NOT Change

By April 17, 2009News,

You know – this whole Twitter scam (in which Ashton Kutcher, aka @aplusk, was on a race to a million followers with CNN) grossed me out from the beginning.

Ashton created a video during his run for one million where he said:

This is “about a statement that one man can have a voice that’s as loud as an entire media company. And you can have that voice as well. And we can all have that voice together. And, and, and we can change media forever.”

But he’s not just a man. He’s a celebrity. And for some reason people (yes, me included) glom on celebrities like flies to shit. Curiousity, proximity to fame, the chance of being noticed, all of the above? Regardless, I can name millions of guys who are ‘one man’ on Twitter who are getting followers the real way – by contributing to the conversation.

Excuse me, ‘Mr.’ Kutcher – we have been changing media for some time now. You just got here.

It’s been revealed that Ashton Kutcher, in fact, has punk’d Twitter – and been paid with promotion and possible dollars, certainly with press, to create this entire scenario that spanned not only the week’s news cycle – but Oprah as well. I mean, after all, Oprah is late to the game – so her entrance to Twitter simply had to be part of this coup.

Even more disgusting is the fact that Twitter has made it impossible for anyone to unfollow Ashton. A few have tried to offer a way around the mandatory Ashton Kutcher follow, but Twitter seems to have fixed that – because it no longer works. We’re stuck with him.

Oh, and all this from a guy with over one million followers who is following exactly 79 people back as of this post. You seem to have missed the point of Twitter, Ashton.

I remember a few months ago when Twitter was so sweet, pure, beneficial. The celebs were few and far between – or they were simply behaving; Tina Fey, Anderson Cooper and MC Hammer, to name a few. It was before the apps that help mindless tweeters gather 20,000 followers in one week when all they post is muckety muck about nothing in particular.

When he finally did win his self-created contest, Ashton remarked again, ‘this is changing media forever!’ I’m sorry? Not the 6 million people on Twitter that came before him? Not the 200 million on Facebook? Not Barack Obama’s use of social media to win an election? Not the sum total of amazing bloggers that speak their minds and create actual change every day?

Be ashamed of yourself, Ashton Kutcher. Because you absolutely must be kidding.

Will we, the Tweeple that tweet responsibily, be able to maintain some of that ‘old Twitter’? If we remain pure and giving in our tweets, can we overcome this mainstream, race for numbers madness? Can we continue to share information, learn, help each other, grow businesses, provide support and change the world – as real people?

I’m holding out hope. I’m grateful for Ashton’s malaria nets. I’m disgusted by his ego and manipulation. But I’m holding out hope.

Join the discussion 52 Comments

  • I couldn’t have said this better myself. Great post.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks – my blood pressure is a little high at the moment. It’s funny because this has been eating at me all week – I knew something wasn’t right.

  • cam says:

    unfortunately, delusions of granduer seem to go with the territory.. and how could they not. Consider your own words ..’He’s a celebrity. And for some reason people (yes, me included) glom on celebrities like flies to shit. Curiousity, proximity to fame, the chance of being noticed, all of the above?’.. they are not treated like normal, why would you expect them to behave or think like normal??

  • Barbara Kangas says:

    Perhaps you had to have followed this from the very beginning. Maybe he wasn’t the first, but he’s enthusiastic and seems like his heart is in the right place. Just a thought.

  • The Q says:

    WORD. WORD. And so much WORD.

    I blogged about this today:

    The whole point of Twitter (or any social media) is, uh, SOCIALIZING. Not just dispensing information to minions. I mean, how is it any different from an RSS Feed from your corporate-based website then?

    Well done post. Thanks,


  • It seems as though you are a little worked up over something really small in the scheme of things. You don’t have to use Twitter or follow along with any of the shenanigans. Personally, I have not followed, so maybe that’s why I don’t see the big deal. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Really, Michele? I’m not the only one. People were trusting, this was a violation. It’s classic of what ‘some’ people will do with their power. In addition, Twitter has been an incredible platform for my business – for many people’s businesses and life connections. I sure do hate to see it shat on.

    Plus, I like getting worked up. I’m a passionate person – on purpose.

  • Emma says:

    Thank you for this post, Julie. Well put, and I think you speak for many people.

  • Clay says:

    Passion and “worked up” are certainly two very different things…Unless you choose to blur the line and make them one and the same. In which you should learn the definitions that have been set forth and perhps, just perhaps follow them.

    Passion tends to follow a deep seated love for something that you’ll express with joy and art and well…passion.

    Worked up is usually referring to the act of getting so emotionally stirred up that you can no longer control your emotions and you say things that either make no sense, you can’t take back, you later regret, or all of the above.

    So passionate and worked up are NOT in fact the same thing. It’s too bad people don’t realize this.

    However both can in fact lead to good work being done.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Yeah, I’m passionate about Twitter and social media. Thanks for chiming in.

  • I agree. It’s ridiculous for Mr.Kucher to point to himself as an “everyman”. Publicity stunt for him and Twitter. And he really doesn’t get it.

    Social media is about having a conversation. How much of a conversation is he having at a million to 79 ratio? Silly.

  • Karen Sloan says:

    Great post. Sums up everything I thought, as well : )

  • Amen Julie – well written & you speak on behalf of so many who have been here for quite some time now.

    Too bad he didn’t use the publicity and money to give back to something – anything that would benefit humanity. At least that would have been an act of goodwill for the fun, games and money that were had by all (of them).

  • Debra Snider says:

    I don’t follow any of the celebs on Twitter, nor will I unless and until they start tweeting something of interest to me. I feel the same way about Ashton Kutcher as I do about everyone else who seeks to buy followers or otherwise to gain them via some method other than what makes Twitter sing, which is, as you say, conversation. How pathetic to have to buy friends!

    Frankly, I assume that what drives Mr. Kutcher is worry that his 15 minutes are up. With any luck, they soon will be unless he shows some sign of integrity or talent that would justify continuation of his fame.

    As I tweeted yesterday, the combo of spammers, IT snafus and celebrities pathetically seeking to hype themselves is making Twitter a lot less enjoyable lately. I fervently hope those of us in it for intelligent conversation and community will continue to be able to craft our own experience relatively free of all of the above.

    Love your passion, Julie!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Charee – though, as I mentioned above, he is donating mosquito nets to combat malaria – and he’s gotten some other celebs, like Oprah, to do the same.

  • Joe Hage says:

    I’m comfortable disagreeing here.

    As a marketer, I thought it was a master stroke for Ashton and for Twitter.

    When I talk about Twitter at work, I still get glazed looks. Maybe we, the initiated, liked our (relatively) early adopter status too much.

    We’re in the growth stage where the product hits the masses. What better PR is there than a celebrity-filled back-and-forth for a week. Larry King, “CNN will bury you.” Ashton fighting for “everyman.” Oprah tweeting live.

    I’m impressed.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Hi Joe… As a marketer, I agree with you. When you stand back and look at what they orchestrated with Oprah, et al. it is very impressive. And not what I was railing against. To me, if you reread, you’ll see that I oppose Ashton’s statement that this ‘event’ is finally causing change and putting the power and voice back to the people. As if he just invented social media. Thanks for stopping by…

  • Glebe2037 says:

    The best piece I have read (blog or tweet) on this whole charade … well done to you !!!

  • Casey Harris says:

    It’s funny because I got my Twitter account suspended a month after I first joined…reason—I had more followers than those I was following. So I spent a few weeks emailing saying that I was new and didnt realize…still trying to figure it all out. I got my account back and well started following, following, following. So how these celebs are able to follow so few BUT have so many followers is beyond me. Interestingly enough, many of the tweets I saw today was messages to Ashton saying Congrads BUT now how about following some of the people who supported you?

  • oh, my bad, there was a donation to a cause:

  • Linda says:

    Wow! Pretty harsh write up. I’m not a fan of any celebrity. They’re just people with more money and talent than the average guy and most have been through hell to get to where they’re at.

    Pissed because he’s not following you? Pissed because you can’t unfollow? Most people never read their tweets anyway. 79 is a lot to follow for a busy person.

    He’s brought awareness to a great cause. What kind of person are you inside? This is so bitter. I’d be embarrassed to write something like this. I guess it got you a lot of attention though and I suppose that’s what copywriting is all about, isn’t it? Sad.

    Why not rejoice with the people who will be getting mosquito nets? This stunt will likely save some lives and was a brilliant piece of marketing. Every seen someone with malaria?

    • Julie Roads says:

      Actually, I have. One of my best friends does extensive goodwill/social change work in Africa and he’s had malaria several times.

  • snugglezz says:


  • snugglezz says:

    so it’s julie then. they just deleted the account for posting this link, i guess. WOW!!!!!!

  • snugglezz says:

    i thought the peice was quite entertaining, either way.

  • snugglezz says:

    well your account is back now. false alarm i guess?!

  • I didn’t know about the billboards, etc. I’m really glad to be out of the loop. lol

  • ChaCha Fance says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth. THANK YOU!

  • Press stunt or not it shows both the change of balance of power between social media and corporate media, as well as, that between a “popular” few on social media and everyone else.

    I am urging people to show their collective influence by unfollowing Ashton for one day on Monday the 20th – Unfollow Ashton Kutcher Day use hashtag #ufapluskday.

    Everyone should feel free to follow back on Tuesday if they wish, but on that one day we can show that we can join together and effectively counter the dispraportionate power of a few.

    For more info:

  • Nice to see I’m not the only one posting about this crapola. They just have NO CLUE

  • Barbara Kangas says:

    I’m a little confused by people who complain about celebrity posts on Twitter making the experience less enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy their tweets, then why follow them? If you’re not following them, they shouldn’t bother you at all…unless you’re just bothered that someone else is following and enjoying them. And, really…all-in-all, what Ashton Kutcher was drawing attention to was the ability for people like Julie to put her opinion out there where it can be read by all of you, any many others. There are a handful of people who own vast networks of media (tv, newspapers, magazines, radio) and in the past, these people have decided what information we will get and it is spoon fed to us. Things are changing. Ashton Kutcher clearly stated that he DID NOT create this and is not the first person doing this…he just noticed how many people were following him and it surprised him. He wondered if someone could compete with the super media. There ARE ways for non-celebrities to build a following on Twitter and other networks…you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Also wondering why everyone wants to slam celebrities. They’re people. We are the ones who tag them celebrities by our reactions to them. Just another thought or two.

  • ahabicher says:


    The “don’t UNfollow”-part of the race is gross, I admit. But I must disagree with the notion that Mr. aplusk “destroyed” Twitter, as some people say, or the idea that he tweets wrongly.

    I don’t follow him. But I chose to follow Katy Perry, for example. Her tweets are so unprofessional and erratic that she simply MUST be herself, for one thing. Also she tweets rather seldom and does not go on ones nerves.

    The choice was mine and remains so, as it is the choice of anyone to follow MY tweets – most of which are in german, and therefore useless to most people.
    How far and in what way my own tweets are helpful for anyone I don’t control, can’t control really, and neither can aplusk.

    There are the lurkers who follow only and love it, there are the mindless companies that follow no one and still have their fans. One day, the extreme twitter hype that’s going around these days will end. Already there are those accounts that have been last updated 6 months ago. It’s an evolution – and to what end, we don’t know. Let’s wait and see – and follow only those we want to.

  • Casey Harris says:

    If you have Tweetdeck, and unfollow through there, it will let you now. I just tried unfollowing this morning and it let me.

  • Doug says:

    I got caught up in the follow @aplusk tide too. Thought I’d rather he won than CNN.

    As soon as he won, I wanted to unfollow – and couldn’t do it. I thought there was a glitch in the system, and now I find that Twitter fixed it. Hardly gives me the warm and fuzzies to either Twitter or @aplusk.

    I noticed today that my several attempts at unfollowing yesterday finally payed off. Mysteriously and happily, I am no longer following @aplusk

  • Julie – I kept saying “Amen to that!” over and over when reading this. Yes, I was one drawn in to follow Oprah. And I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit that I have UNFOLLOWED her today. Maybe I was expecting too much, but with her full entourage of “people” I thought she’d come out with some motivational tweets, some great statement of how she’ll use Twitter to help others. An understanding of the community. Instead we heard about her DOG?

    Oprah did serve a great lesson. She has created this dialog, encouraging each of us to determine what WE want out of Twitter.

  • Joe Hage says:

    My 78-year-old mother-in-law set up an account on her own and is following me.

    The PR is working.

  • Ann Davis says:

    After reading this whole thing (with interest, mind you), I couldn’t help but think that my time would be better spent buried in my book. Anyone remember those? Movie to follow (the book, that is…)

  • Christine says:

    I bet they are allowing people to unfollow CNN. Sad. Good post.

  • Thelovelylime says:

    Great post!

  • G. Karber says:

    I was with you until you claimed that Tina Fey was on Twitter.

    I hope you’re talking about someone other than the person with the account TinaFey, because that person is most definitely not Tina Fey. Say what you will about Ashton Kutcher, at least he’s actually Ashton Kutcher.

    • Julie Roads says:

      Really? How do you know it isn’t Tina Fey? I mentioned her because ‘the account’ posts randomly funny things and the use is moderate and not in your face or attention grabbing…Fascinating…thanks for clueing us in if it isn’t her!

  • Trula says:

    This is a really insightful post; love it. I do wonder about the followers of Oprah and Asthon Kutcher and the like, it looks like they only follow other celebrities and do not talk to other people…so why follow them?

  • mikeyames says:

    I unfollowed over the weekend with no problem.

    I think that’s the beauty of this particular tool. I can follow and unfollow all I want. If I want to go back to the simplicity of early-twitter, as you describe, I can do that.

    Ashton took too much glory to himself with his “one man” statements, but I can give him the benefit of the doubt that he was speaking (at least somewhat) metaphorically. There is in fact a new day in communication, Ashotn simply landmarked it by beating CNN in his little manufactured race. It’s a big, bright landmark because (as you said) the guy is a celebrity. Mass-media made Ashton, so there is plenty of irony.

  • stephanie says:

    way to speak your mind, Julie! I love your “passionate on purpose” attitude. Inspiring!

  • I’m a little late to the dance, but I had to chime in because so many of the comments are missing the point of the post. Ashton is no “everyman” and has not revolutionized anything with this stunt. The end result and good deed are lovely, but beside the point. The issue here is that because of who he is, it was not a giant feat to get his million followers. The fact that he only follows other celebs is just gross and should tell you where you stand as a voice with him. The real thorn in the lion’s paw is his claim to have created this media sensation as an individual when the playing field was never level. He is a famous celebrity, married to one of the most famous movie stars in the world. How is that just one man?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thank you, Kerry!!! Yes…many of these comments have missed the point entirely. You got it – nail on the head.

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