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Manchester United, Twitter Disasters, And Postmodernism

The Twitter coke dream saga of @TotallyManU may not be real, but Aaron Gordon dares to ask what even counts as real.

Three days ago, someone launched a Twitter account, @TotallyManU. Here was the account's first tweet:

Here at TotallyManU we work hard day & night to provide Man United fans with the latest breaking news, plus special offers. Who's excited?

— Totally Man U (@TotallyManU) August 17, 2014

Innocuous enough. Not at all clear how this will generate more revenue than sleeping, but hey, to each his/her own.


The second tweet, though, is where things get worrisome:

I left my job to start this account and I hope to bring happiness to United fans around the world. Follow my incredible journey.

— Totally Man U (@TotallyManU) August 17, 2014

Tellingly, the second tweet is also when things started to go awry. Over the course of the next three days, the person behind the account hypes up an Instagram account launch (which, as of this writing, has no actual photos), reports on failed attempts to speak to Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward, makes a vague reference of flying to Madrid to report on the Angel di Maria transfer rumors, and alternating between thanking his followers for "overwhelming support" and scolding them for calling him crazy or not supporting his Instagram account (which, again, has no photos). A mere three days after the account launched, it all came crashing down:

Well it's safe to say I well and truly fucked up. I shouldn't of quit my job. My followers are a waste of time and I've had shit support.

— Totally Man U (@TotallyManU) August 21, 2014

What a fuckin disgrace you've all been

— Totally Man U (@TotallyManU) August 21, 2014

I left a well paid job to start a twitter account where I could break news to united fans. All I've done is receive abuse. Fuck off all of u

— Totally Man U (@TotallyManU) August 21, 2014

And then it was over. A dream, a life, and a death in 72 hours.

There are a couple of ways to approach @TotallyManU's sordid existence. On the one hand, @TotalManU was a business in the same way that watching How I Met Your Mother is getting life coaching. Needless to say, monetizing a Twitter/Instagram account focused solely on news for the most popular team in the world is not a path to riches. As one doesn't feel bad for the apple when it falls from the tree and strikes the ground, it's difficult to sympathize with such an obviously ill-conceived failure.

Yet, while reading through @TotallyManU's 30-tweet life, I was reminded of another aggregated disaster: The Room, a perfect distillation of failure-as-art. For anyone who has seen The Room, you know that, somehow, it comes together to form the perfect disaster to the point that it's actually genius. Consider: if I hold up a playing card one at a time and ask you to guess whether the card is black or red, it's just as impressive to get every card wrong as right. In the same way, The Room gets every answer so consistently wrong that it invokes the prospect of ingenuity. It parodies the hopeless falsehoods of American boy-and-girl cliches while spitting on the idea of the American dream in such an absurd way that you wonder if it's actually affirming it. Maybe it does all this accidentally, but by the time the credits roll, it hardly makes a difference.

@TotallyManU is an equally poignant disaster. (@TotallyManU and The Room's protagonist, Johnny, even share a similar freak out moment.) @TotallyManU says something about how we are blindly told to follow our passions while being fed dire platitudes masquerading as life advice. It says something about failure's ugly, crushing swiftness. It says lots of other things, too, depending on who's listening. @TotalManU isn't an American dream, but it is the American Dream beaten, mugged, and left for dead. It is art. It is life. It doesn't matter if it's real.

Follow Aaron Gordon on Twitter.