Michael Riedel’s first 24 hours on Twitter
The New York Post‘s Michael Riedel made every member of the Broadway community collectively wet themselves Thursday with the surprising revelation that he had joined Twitter. A forum that has been used for lighting-fast news, discussion, and fairly-anonymous bitchiness among theater fans has now been changed by the existence of @MichaelRiedelNY.
@BroadwayGirlNYC was the first on my Twitter feed to announce the Broadway gossip columnist’s arrival. @BroadwaySpotted was quick to announce that it had “competition” upon learning the print man of 20 years had joined the social networking site. Riedel quickly replied to @BroadwaySpotted’s tweet with humble resignation. Which led to the second revelation of this Twitter arrival—he replies!
Within an hour, Riedel began engaging with Broadway World‘s James Sims, Kevin Daly of The Theatre Aficionado At Large (and Stage Rush TV guest co-host), Josh Lamon of Hair, and Ran Xia (a Stage Rush reader). Even I jumped in to provide Riedel with a few tweet tips (beware the perils of beginning a tweet with “@[username]”—only those that follow you as well as that username will have that tweet appear in their feed).
Friday brought even more surprises when Riedel, in addition to continuing conversations with tweeters, engaged in the week-end tradition of Follow Friday. (Stage Rush was one of the recipients. Must have been those twips.) Riedel bantered with Stage Rush reader Tyler Martins about his much-touted love of Follies, and even praised Amanda Sales for facetiously referring to him as a “#twitterslut” for following so many people in a short amount of time. (At the time of publishing, Riedel follows 159 users and is followed by 469.)
The interesting effect that a Michael Riedel Twitter account has had among theatergoers is a confusion as to how to handle the arrival. Some desired a follow from the famous Broadway journalist and others want to swap theater-related thoughts with him. Yet it’s hard to imagine some tweeters not suddenly rethinking messages they send out into the Twitterverse. Riedel’s scathing columns often provoke vitriol from readers and Broadway enthusiasts on the Internet (how’s that for an understatement?). Until this week, those comments were free to be made unnoticed by the writer. Now, anything that is to be said—tweeters simply have to own up to it.
Which isn’t to say there’s a problem with this concept. Social media is a useful forum for freedom of speech and communication, often bringing parties together that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to interact. And when it comes to the “owning up,” Jonathan Mandell of The Faster Times had no problem sharing a chuckle with Riedel by bringing it to his attention that in the FringeNYC show The Legend of Julie Taymor, a character based on Riedel is named “Lionel Weasel.”
Initially, Michael Riedel’s Twitter arrival seemed to have a similar effect on the Broadway community that young Facebook users felt when their parents created accounts—that the party was over. However, if Riedel maintains this level of communication and repartee (and he seems to be enjoying it), the party may have just gotten better.