Politicians then (And yes, they are celebrities) are rather pointless to follow on Twitter. All you get on your timeline is hyperbolic propaganda and contrived attempts at patriotism. Twitter to most politicians is, I assume, a necessary evil; something to connect with younger voters but given the choice, they'd rather leave it to their secretaries or aides. And many do, of course.
This was until Gerry Adams came along. His Twitter account is less than two months old but has already amassed over 16,000 followers. Now that's not a fantastically huge amount - but for a 65 year old Irish politician who has only tweeted 181 times (That sounds like a lot, I know - it isn't really), it's pretty damn impressive. It ain't hard to see why so many people have chosen to follow him - his tweets are works of scattered, chaotic and often times incongruous art.
The question remains though; is Gerry Adams really this eccentrically brilliant? Does he really sleep with a teddy named Ted? Does he really bathe with a rubber duck? Or is this a publicity stunt by Sinn Féin? A chance to capitalise on the growing support of him personally and the party on the whole and to perhaps even expand it? I'm going to have to stop asking questions that I can't possibly answer conclusively and just present the evidence. You, the reader of my modest blog, can be the judge.
I'll just lay out a few of the (many) highlights so far:
Trouble in paradise with Ted (Who is a teddy bear)
"Tiocfaidh Ár Latte"
Wacky happenings in Leinster House
Martin McGuinness joins Twitter
Discussing the marital status of teddy bears Ted and Tom
His rather lovely dog, Snowie
It's difficult to decipher, ain't it? In some people's minds, Adams will always be intrinsically linked to the IRA and the Troubles and they may see this as a cheap attempt to create a new identity - a sort of bumbling, bubbly sexagenarian who seems like he just happens to be a politician, that it doesn't define who he is. Such protests are not inane. Accruing support in such a hostile and divided political environment is difficult and of course remarkably important - political parties will (And have) stoop to anything to attract voters.
Those assumptions will remain just that however - merely assumptions.
Adams has always struck me as a peculiar sort of character though. Not quite as aberrant as he comes across on Twitter but still peculiar. He is the very first politician I remember being aware of as a child - probably because my early childhood was the mid to late 90's, i.e. peace process time. His eminent beard reminds me so much of the 90s it's almost zeitgeist-y. His Twitter account however, really did surprise me. In a good way. For the first week it existed I was convinced it was a parody account. Convinced. Then the Sinn Fein press office confirmed its validity. Oh. So he actually did tweet "Tiocfaidh Ár Latte" about a good cup of coffee. He actually does sleep (or claim to, at least) with a teddy bear. He actually does have a near-comical love/hate relationship with his advisor RG (Real name - Richard McCauley).
Of course, other prominent members of Sinn Féin use Twitter - Martin McGuinness has just joined and Mary Lou McDonald is a prominent user - and both are more dynamic with their accounts than their jejune FF/FG/Lab counterparts. Though neither are a patch on Gerry.
What amuses me most about any member of Sinn Féin's Twitter accounts is their use of the Irish language. It's so flagrant yet somehow subtle. It's as if they have a requisite number of words which must be as gaeilge in each tweet. They would never compose a full tweet as gaeilge though, that would be far too confusing for the followers - most of whom are Irish and as such do not speak Irish.
I haven't answered the question that I posed in the title of this article. Because I simply can't answer it conclusively. Adams' tweets seem so batshit insane at times that I think he simply must be putting on this overt eccentricity or at least exaggerating it. But it somehow seems genuine. His continuous bewilderment with modern technology, his strange obsession with GAA (You have to be obsessed to watch Antrim hurling), Christ, even the teddy bear thing. It makes sense in the strangest of ways.
But then, it doesn't really matter. If he continues to churn out the comedy gold he's produced already, I won't question his motives. I don't think he'll ever top "Tiocfaidh Ár Latte", though.