Internet

Meet God’s social media manager, the man behind @TheTweetOfGod

The online popularity made tweeting addictive for Javerbaum. “It’s very hard to stop… The likes and the re-tweets going up and up, and it gets your pheromones going,” he says.  

God has six million followers on Twitter. But he follows only one account: Justin Bieber. What’s so special about the pop singer? “From what God told me, he only follows close family members. That’s all I could get out of him,” answers David Javerbaum, who runs the hugely popular @TheTweetOfGod account. While the snarky content is mostly aimed at American politics, climate change deniers and the general state of the world, a recent tweet brought up India. “Just so you don’t think I’m totally obsessed with America, #RIPSushmaSwaraj. People like her are why the Indian god market is worth fighting for”, it read.

 

It got me wondering about God’s social media manager, and a few DMs (direct messages) later, I got a response. “He’s an idiot,” said God, claiming that though he himself is a genius, his earthly secretary was a “no-good drivelling moron”. Speaking from Los Angeles a week after this exchange, Javerbaum keeps up with the act that he isn’t God, but merely works with/for him. I play along.

In the beginning...

Everyone knows how God created man, but what is the tale behind the genesis of his Twitter account? “He said ‘I want to communicate with people and need someone funny to help punch up my jokes’. He knew I was one of his chosen people, which helped,” explains Javerbaum. Back in 2010, they began working on a book — The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. “Working with God, it was easy to get a publishing deal with Simon and Schuster,” he says. His editor pointed him to Twitter, which was just gaining popularity, and the account caught on. “I guess God and I were pretty good at it,” he looks back.

 

Meet God’s social media manager, the man behind @TheTweetOfGod

When the book eventually came out in 2011, people thought it was derivative of the Twitter account, though it wasn’t quite so. Nevertheless, Javerbaum is very proud of it: “It’s God looking back at the Bible and the New Testament and a lot of other aspects of human life. I would take a little less Twitter popularity for a little more book sales!” Meanwhile, the online popularity made tweeting addictive for him. “It’s very hard to stop… The likes and the re-tweets going up and up, and it gets your pheromones going,” he says.

A few years later, he was approached by a Broadway producer about turning the account into a stage play. The Act of God played on Broadway for two consecutive summers, and went all over the world. It is yet to be performed in India, and he would love for that to happen some day soon. He is also on the verge of expanding into two other areas of entertainment. “I may have a couple of cool things to announce soon,” he says.

 

Global reach

God tweets and sometimes re-tweets others with comments, but doesn’t engage so much in arguments, discussions, conversations. Can followers elicit a quick-witted reaction? “God replies to tweets exactly as often as he replies to prayers from other people,” comes another quick response.

Javerbaum lets us in on the secret that through this Twitter account, God is desperate to get into the Indian market — “the 33 crore gods are calling to him.” What explains this knowledge of our politics, personalities and celebrities? “It’s the largest market other than China. But China has no Twitter, and even God doesn’t understand Chinese,” says Javerbaum, who is yet to visit the subcontinent.

 

Anti-establishment

There has been a flip side to the success. Five years ago, the account was hacked, after which Javerbaum quit for a year and a half. Many have been offended, but “not as many as [I] would have wanted”. Twitter itself has suspended his account twice. First, for a tweet that was mistakenly thought of as anti-gay, whereas it was anything but. Second was with a genuine reason: the background picture in his account had a blue tick despite his own account remaining resolutely unverified. “It’s a Twitter trademark that can’t be used without permission.” Even by God, who supposedly should need no validation.

Ask why there is an irreverent, at times cynical, view of the government, religion, institutions and also climate change, and he counters, “I won’t say ‘at times’. It’s always cynical.” Do Donald Trump in the US and many of his ilk provide him ample material? “The only time there would be no material for satire will be in a perfect world. And I don’t see that coming any time soon. I do think that if it were a perfect world, my [in]ability to make fun of it would be a small price to pay,” he says.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2020 2:32:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/meet-gods-social-media-manager-the-man-behind-thetweetofgod/article29353013.ece

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