VBR #10: 'It Was Probably Misplaced Enthusiasm', with guest @anamericangod

A lot of the folks on this show have been people I've never spoken to in person before. Joe is one I've only seen a single photo of. He's sort of an enigma, that @anamericangod. Intentionally ambiguous about his identity online, but very open about his emotional state. I've followed him for a few years now and taken solice in some of the more thoughtful tweets on his timeline and laughed outwardly at many more. It was interesting to get Joe on the line and hear his voice and get to know him outside of the 140 character limit.

Joe is the founder of American Dream Records, an independent record label that put out vinyl releases from some pretty amazing bands in the early 2010s. Since then, he's amassed an impressive and growing Twitter following as @anamericangod. Nostalgia swings it's mighty fist as we talk about the old days of music discovery and early Internet hangouts for music lovers. Then we talk Twitter, a lot of Twitter.

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

Buying @Haje: How I got my given name as my Twitter handle for $250

For nearly as long as I've fought to regain access to the handle I am currently using on Twitter, I have been attempting to get @tender—the short and sweet one-word jackpot of a handle currently being used up by a mostly inactive account which doubles as my surname—as well.

Turns out Haje Jan Kamps at TechCrunch has been trying to do the same for his first name. He actually succeeded!

I had a plan, which had taken shape when I was emailing the Keeper of the Handle (as I had mentally started referring to this mythical, unreachable creature). If they’d gotten in touch, I’d have been happy to pay anything up to $500 for my first name as a Twitter handle. Yeah, it’s a lot of money, but I rationalized that people spend similar amounts on fancy vanity plates on their cars. “I don’t have a car,” I thought. “I totally deserve a vanity handle.”

Yeah. I know.

Crazy? I don't think so. I had similar offers in mind. The owner of the account I want recently got back to me after a few years of DMs and refused to give it up.

I’ll forgive you for thinking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? Who pays $250 to register a trademark to get a name on a website?” I’ll even agree with you: It’s a spectacularly vain and dumb thing to be doing.

No, what Haje did isn't dumb, nor is it vain. In the digital age, a person's personal brand (as cringeworthy as that sometimes sounds) is incredibly valuable. Bucking up $250 for a killer handle like that is worth it. @Haje (or any one-word Twitter handle) is both easy to remember and stands as an indication of several important qualities. Most importantly, a handle such as this shows that you're an early adopter OR that you are savvy enough to appear to be. The difference doesn't even matter.

Reclaiming A Twitter Handle: My Seven Year Wait

“Hi”

This was the very first tweet I sent on April 21, 2009 at 9:46 PM from an account I made through SMS on my Nokia 2600c. It was a simple tweet, aimed at nobody in particular. I had no followers on that day 7 years ago. I followed nobody either. I was simply testing the waters of something that wouldn’t become important to me until much later.

I fired off two more tweets in the next two days. “Sittin in my bed” and “Wonders if sam knows anyone else wit twitter”. The lack of punctuation in those micro-blogs are as cringeworthy today as they are difficult to type in my text editor. If find there is no great way to intentionally skip a period without wanting to immediately fix it. Anyway, these were the last tweets I’d push through 40404, Twitter’s SMS service number, until September of that year.

“Can any of my ‘followers’ tell me if you see this ‘tweet’?”

This was my last tweet from @jacobtender, still seen by nobody. The story from here onward is foggy, but I’ve been piecing it together for 7 years while simultaneously pleading with Twitter to restore access to the account after I was locked out—possibly for good. Here’s a timeline to break it down.

April 2009:


  • The account @jender4 is created by myself at 11:29 AM on the 11th.

  • The account @jacobtender is created by myself at 9:41 PM on the 21st

Before regaining access to the account—which I’ll go into in a bit—I believed that I had used Twitter SMS to create @jacobtender before creating the account that I would later use as my primary account (@jender4). That was wrong. My primary account was actually made first, followed by the one I would lose. Still following? Let’s dig deeper.

My main Twitter account (first @jender4, then @curbsideaudio) was made on a public computer at the Rittman Public Library on a Saturday. It must have been while trying to connect to Twitter through my phone ten days later that I created @jacobtender, which was a better name to begin with. I sent off a few tweets from my phone having no idea that they weren’t being published online through the account I had intended.

September 2009:


  • I ask my followers if they can see my tweet. That tweet is typed on my phone and published through @jacobtender on the 19th.

  • “First Tweet” was the first tweet sent from @jender4 on the 24th.

Here I can only speculate that I gave Twitter SMS one last go after being told by friends (namely the aforementioned Sam) that my tweets weren’t going through on the account they were following. Some time between the 19th and 24th I logged in on another public computer [1] and assigned my cell phone number to the account my friends were following.

That’s when everything fell apart for the handle I should have been using. Honestly, I didn’t give a second thought to abandoning @jacobtender for some time. I continued to use Twitter without using a computer. SMS worked just fine. I even had this handy “tweet sheet” created by Jason Theodor to remember all of the commands. It wasn’t until a year or so later, when I began properly blogging, that I wanted that name back. That wasn’t going to be easy though and I knew it.

2011-2015:

Twitter support was certainly less rigid then than it is now but, even in 2011, an active email address associated with the account you wished to access was required. The trick in my case was that there was no email address attached to the account I wanted. It was made with a phone number as the primary contact. That phone number was stripped away from the account when I attached it to the other account I was using with my friends. Had there been a disclaimer explaining that this could happen, maybe I wouldn’t have hit okay. Allowing someone to use a phone number on a second account sounds glitchy now, but Twitter was still young at this point. The preventative measures today that would protect someone like me from a total account lockout did not exist at this point. All I could do was hope support would look into it and hand over access to someone with no solid claim to it. The next 5 years were filled with emails and support tickets. All futile. My pleas fell on deaf ears at Twitter and my hopes were dashed time and time again.

I got close once. In 2012, a friend in the valley put me in touch with a support tech at Twitter. She was on maternity leave and later left the company. From then on, I was determined to find someone else on the inside that could help. Weird thing is, a lot of people left Twitter at this point. By 2014, none of my friends in San Francisco knew anyone at Twitter anymore. I met a few people through the music industry that offered to put me in touch with someone, but none of them came through in the end. With Twitter’s increasingly strict policies from both user and employment standpoints, asking anyone to make a request on my behalf to someone they knew on the inside would be listed under the “putting them out” category. I get that. I don’t like being used either.

I continued putting in support requests with various angles of explanation of the situation. I’d start a new case every few months, hoping I’d catch the right support agent on the right day. That never happened, but someone else heard my plea.

April 2016:

On April 14, I sent a request to Twitter Support asking for access to the account. The response email I received the next morning wasn’t even on topic. Frustrated, I took to Twitter to complain. I also mentioned it to a fairly new friend over a text message. That friend, a developer in San Fransisco, took it upon themselves to see who they could get ahold of at Twitter. I didn’t ask questions, I just waited with bated breathe as he relayed ticket numbers and responses back and forth between myself and a mysterious stranger who had escalated my case.[2] Within a half of an hour, I received a response from Twitter support asking me for 4 declarative statements. After sending them what they needed, they assigned an email address of my choosing to the account and I was in. After 7 years of soul-crushing stares at an abandoned Twitter account bearing my name, @jacobtender was finally mine once again. I don’t think I’ve smiled that brightly in years.

Maybe it’s silly that I put so much effort and thought into having my name as my handle on a social networking website. There are certainly other things my will-power could be used for. Still, Twitter has been a huge tool in the advancement of my career and my personal life as well. Every job I’ve loved came through contacts made on Twitter. I met my girlfriend there. Some of the best friends and closest confidants I could have ever asked for were first engaged by an @reply. Twitter is a big deal to me and how I appear there is important. I feel like myself now in a way that I couldn’t when tweeting under @curbsideaudio, a name people have actually used to address me in real life situations. It’s always been my hope that people who follow me online will remember my name, not my Twitter handle. That’ll be a lot easier now.

As of today, I can be found on Twitter as @jacobtender. This blog can be followed at @curbsideaudio. This change has been a long time coming and I feel great about it. The blog has been and always will be an extension of myself, but my Twitter is 100% me—unfiltered.


  1. My family didn’t have a computer properly connected to the Internet until I was in college.  ↩


  2. My endless thanks to both of you. You know who you are.  ↩

Facebook Hiatus

If you have an account on Facebook, you may have come around to the idea that maybe it’s not as great as you once thought it was. UI changes and algorithms aside, the use of Facebook has diminished greatly in the last several years and has become a fount of stress in my life.

I can only begin to tell you how it breaks my heart to scroll through Facebook and see people I consider close friends sharing thoughts and points of view I didn’t know they had—vantages that I consider not only opposed to my own, but dangerous to our very society. [1] Perhaps learning about this sort of stuff online means I’m not as close to these people as I thought I was. In any case, reading such bigotry and hatred coming from people I know and care about is very discouraging. While I think the United States as a democratic body has made great strides in acceptance and open-mindedness, my local circles are still unquestionably conservative to the point of denial and ignorance. I’m choosing to duck out of that where I can.

This isn’t Jake taking a shot anyone or their beliefs. If I thought I could change anyone’s mind about religion, politics, or sexuality I would part of what I consider a bigger problem. I’m simply through with feeling awful for logging into a website. It’s time to take action.

I’ve deactivated Facebook twice before. Both times I came back for work-related reasons and stayed for the habits I fell back into. Using Facebook to share my work and connect with colleagues has been very important to the way I operate. The dream is to have a Facebook account by which to use messenger and share my work with the people that find it interesting, leaving the follows and timeline stuff out of it. Achieving that is going to require either painstakingly removing everything from my timeline that induces stress or creating an entirely new Facebook page that will, in every likelihood, become as cluttered as my current one. This is what I have to think about.

Starting tomorrow and for the next two months, I’m leaving Facebook entirely. My page will be deactivated until some point in early February. At that point I will hopefully have a plan to create a better balance on the platform or abandon it completely. I am open to suggestions.

If you need to get ahold of me, my email or Twitter work just fine.

UPDATE: I'm back on Facebook. The experiment worked just fine. I've decided that Facebook is a reletively nescessary evil that I just won't pay much attention to. More than anything, it's a tool to reach an audience I can't get to on Twitter. I don't like that I need it, but I think—at least for now—I do.

  1. I’m not talking potential ‘active shooters’ here, folks. However, I have witnessed threats of violence and reported them to employers and authorities.  ↩


What the Hell is going on with Keri Hilson's Facebook feed?

1928714_62286317272_6765_n.jpg

Seriously, what on Earth is going on with Keri Hilson's Facebook feed? It appears as if she has given up on music to start a career in link aggregation. More realistically, it's as if her social media manager either stopped caring or finds nothing at all interesting or sharable about their client.

On Thursday, August 6 the singer's page shared 16 posts. Visibility nightmare aside, 14 of those posts were seemingly random clickhole-type articles about animals, grandmothers, bad tan lines, and baby clothing.

That was just in a span of 24 hours. In the past month, she has shared links to dozens of links to practicallyviral.com on topics like "eyebrow fails,""third-degree burns on children," and "Watch Someone Pull Out A Huge Lump Of Earwax And Try Not To Vomit." Naturally, Facebook generates preview cards for each of these, which are pretty gross.

I'm not sure why I'm following Keri Hilson on Facebook. I can't say that I'd even recognize one of her songs if played for me. One thing is for sure, whoever it is scheduling these wastes of time is doing an awful job at generating interest for their client. Instead, posting links to the same source of trash content every other hour every single day is turning me off, killing Keri Hilson's engagement and, in fact, creating a downward trend in new page likes.

Keri Hilson is not alone. The clickbait cult got to Lil Wayne too. His page history is full of links to Guff and Memes.com. I don't expect any answers, but I find all of this very strange. All I know is that someone is getting paid big bucks for this shit and I'm not, which means I can't know much.

If you're interested in advertising on Keri's Facebook page yourself, it appears that you can seek out such opportunities via an email address in her verified page's about section. I've reached out to see if I can advertise my new line of homemade cologne to her audience of 7.7 million fans.