I’ve never really been a “follow the crowd” type of woman. One look at my wardrobe in high school and you’ll see that was always true. I wore a “security sweater”, like The Peanuts’ Linus with his blanket. Sure, I also had a 1970’s fooler top (one piece that looks like two), platform shoes, and flared cords. Sometimes you had to get whatever was trendy because that’s all that was available.
But my non-trendy characteristic extends to more than just clothes. It’s music, movies, taste of any kind. Sometimes I liked the hot thing of the moment, but not just because it was what was hot. I wrote about this phenomenon more than a decade ago in my House Proud newspaper column. But don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that I was any sort of trailblazer or trend-setter myself. I got stuck in old home décor patterns, even old haircuts, for too long. My kitchen had a cow theme many years after that style had mooooooved on.
I recall with horror when Elena, my neighbour and close friend, came out to wait for our high school bus one morning wearing Bay City Rollers-style pants. The Rollers were topping the charts at the moment and it wasn’t just that their trousers were loose, white with tartan stripes, they were what we mockingly referred to as “flood pants”. The hem fell between the calf and ankle. Elena wore those pants for weeks until something shocked her out of her delirium and she returned to normal jeans and T-shirts.
I could pump my fist into the air spelling Saturday Night with the best of the Rollers’ fans but there was no way I was pulling on the same getup.
Now, as a woman of a certain age, I’ve fallen off the precipice of even knowing what’s trendy. I’d need to spend a lot more time on social media to find out, and I’m not willing to to do that. But when it comes to social media itself, I did jump on board a trend in the interest of experimentation. An experiment which has just ended with a resounding, “meh”.
I don’t need (or think I deserve) awards or any recognition for anything. But I have to admit that ever since I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve wanted the blue check mark of verification. When other radio companies were getting all their announcers verified, ours either didn’t bother trying or wasn’t successful. So, we watched all of our peers and rivals get blue checks beside their names while we floundered among the masses!
And I’m talking about long before Elon Musk came along and spent enough to feed hungry nations for decades to acquire Twitter. I’ve been on it since 2009 and left radio in 2018. Yes, Twitter can be a cesspool, but you attract what you interact with and since I’ve been interacting with nicer people, it’s become a nicer place.
So, Elon comes along, fires lots of employees and does all sorts of things people hate. Then he decides he’ll put the verified blue checkmark up for sale. For about $10 a month, anyone can have that elusive little symbol that shows others that you’re probably the person they’re looking for by name. The fee also allows editing of tweets up to 30 minutes after hitting publish. So I did it. I signed up and paid to get the blue checkmark to see whether it made any difference.
Do you know what happened? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I did it for three months and everything remained the same. Some new people followed me. Some left. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In case you’re wondering, for me, the fee is a business expense. So there was no risk to my small investment. And despite Musk’s claims that millions are purchasing this perceived perk, internal Twitter documents show that just 180,000 users were signed up as of January. That is chump change in the social media world. And the new plan is to charge major brands $1,000 a month to get a gold checkmark plus $50/month for each team member they want verified, too.
Here’s the problem. It’s more than just a money grab. The checkmark will be meaningless when anyone can buy one. Musk has warned that so-called legacy blue checks will be removed this weekend and only paying customers will have them. Which is why I wanted to conduct my experiment now while I could mix in with the legitimately verified accounts and not make it super obvious that I was paying, even though I always planned to write about the experience.
On one hand, the cost of getting over my blue check envy was well worth it. On the other, as Twitter Blue gets rolled out around the world, the checkmark will lose its cachet. I’ll lose my checkmark any day now. I don’t need to play with the trendy, cool kids because soon, the cool kids will be down here, playing with me!
And now, how about another look at those Bay City Rollers pants!