NEW YORK — He’s one of the most popular users on Twitter. More than 500,000 follow his growing celebrity, his every adventure and, well, his cat naps.
Meet Sockington. Twitter’s latest star is a microblogging cat who regales more than half a million with his musings on meal time, personal hygiene and the view from the top of the stairs.
If nothing else, the latest rewriting of mass media, Twitter, is proving that a large portion of mass media users doesn’t have a lot to do.
Sockington, or “Socks” for short, is the cat of Jason Scott, a 38-year-old computer historian and computer administrator from Walham, Mass. Since late 2007, Scott has been tweeting from Sockington’s perspective — and finding a “Socks Army” of followers. (Many of his followers are pets, too.)
Dogs and cats in social media isn’t anything new. Many have made Facebook pages (there are applications for both “Dogbook” and “Catbook”) and Web sites for their pets.
The difference on Twitter is that the running thread of Sockington’s feline commentary takes on the dimension of a comic strip. Scott has created a character with a particular voice by tweeting messages from Sockington’s point of view like: “I must say no comment to the whole dining room incident. No questions please.”
“He’s kind of functioning like a ’Garfield’ comic,” says Scott. “He’s like the 21st century Garfield.”
There’s the risk that a tweeting cat will only further the impression that Twitter is a flash-in-the-pan success in a sea of online time-wasters. But in a way, Sockington is a parody of Twitter, where even a kitty cat’s life — his daily trips to the litter box, his insignificant household travails — is beamed out to the world.
“Everybody wants this social media bubble. They want something where we’re all chattering so much that we all get rich,” says Scott.
“And this cat makes everybody look like fools because he’s got hundreds of thousands of followers. And he doesn’t tend to follow anyone but other animals.”
Scott’s Sockington feed has benefited from being one of the accounts recommended to new Twitter users when they sign up. But the growth of the Socks Army has been gradual over the last year and a half.
Now, it’s starting to potentially generate revenue. T-shirts are for sale with Sockington wisdom printed on them and Scott acknowledges he may one day accept larger, impossible-to-refuse offers to offset his credit-card debt.
“I’m happy that at the heart of it all is a funny little cat, and that’s why all the attention is happening,” says Scott. “There are much worse reasons to get this kind of national attention.”
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