You may have heard by now that Jim Carrey announced the end of his relationship with Jenny McCarthy via Twitter. He wrote: “Jenny and I have just ended our 5yr relationship. I’m grateful 4 the many blessings we’ve shared and I wish her the very best! S’okay!” Later, McCarthy offered her own tweet on the subject.
And the retweeting began. Soon the news was picked up by journalists (or in some cases they could be called professional retweeters) and the story was everywhere.
My first reaction was that this seemed like an odd forum to be sharing such information – that the man most famous for talking out of his backside was now famous for tweeting out of it.
My second reaction was that I was witnessing — from initial tweet, to first news stories, to confirmations from numerous publicists — yet another example of a celebrity getting out in front of story. With his level of fame, Jim Carrey knew his break-up would be big news. Why not use a direct line of communication to his own built in audience and frame the story in his own words?
You can certainly imagine a clear strategy at work: Dear Media, we’re breaking up. There’s no need to publish a few weeks worth of rumors and speculation. No need to call hundreds of our friends. No need to camp out in front of our house or helicopter above our local dog park. Here’s your story. We’re done. We still dig each other. Oh, and anyone who really cares already knows. So roll presses.
And indeed, the press did run with Carrey’s headline. Every story I saw on the topic included a direct quote of Carrey’s tweet. In many cases, the Twitter angle made the headline.
Here’s the Reuters story: Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy Reveal Split on Twitter.
And here’s the AP version: Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy announce split in tweet.
It’s entirely possible we’re looking at the future of celebrity-driven media relations.
But then I started wondering. What if this wasn’t just a calculated move to frame what was sure to be a major celebrity news story?
Any of your unfamous friends and followees ever share news of a breakup on Twitter or Facebook? Ever read details about personal tragedies shared by people you barely know? Ever first learn of a pregnancy or a divorce by way of status update?
For millions of people, the body seems to have become a vehicle through which experiences pass from the outside world into a status update. I’d expect a large percentage of breakups among Twitter and Facebook enabled couples to be shared while the typist’s eyes were still blurred by tears. That’s the way a huge segment of society rolls. Live, share. Live, share.
There’s no such thing as TMI, only TMC (Too Many Characters).
So was Carrey perfectly framing what could have been a drawn out and uncomfortable story or was he just sharing a personal experience in a very public forum?
Was he using Twitter to manipulate a receptive public, or has Twitter turned him into one of us?