I first came to the attention of Hipster Anne Frank thanks to the Forward. I don’t Tweet much and when I do, I’m not exactly looking to hook up with faux profiles. Like most pre-tech dinosaurs (currently known as “the work force”), I can barely keep up with the real friends I have through the ‘net. Most of us still catch up on each other’s news the old-fashioned way — through talking, preferably in person. I found this out this weekend when three folks I collided into at a friend’s wedding all asked me, “So, what are you doing lately?” I did not respond, “Don’t you read my Facebook?” Why not? Because that would’ve been, well, weird.
Unfortunately, most folks don’t have such a laissez-faire relationship with social media. In fact, in the world of 24 hour news and instant Internet, news agencies rely on technology to provide them with fresh material around the clock. Hence a Twitter profile for Hipster Anne Frank became big news in some big publications including Ha’aretz, The Atlantic, and Time. Jumping on the trend, Renee Ghert-Zand proffered her opinion at the Forward: “Nonetheless, I maintain that there are better ways to get young people to learn about Anne Frank’s legacy.”
There absolutely are, and by pointing out that fact, Renee Ghert-Zand has missed the point of Hipster Anne Frank. This Twitter account, as with most faux-Twitter profiles, doesn’t exist to educate or inform, but to feed off the postmodern millennial belief that everything is nothing and can therefore be manipulated at will for the ultimate currency: hits, followers, re-tweets.
“I fear that this kind of tasteless misappropriation of Anne Frank’s memory and legacy, and that of other historical personalities, will only increase now that people can hide behind Twitter handles,” Ghert-Zand remarked.
Exactly. That’s the point.
When Hipster Anne Frank reached out to the Forward, Time, Jezebel, Jewcy, Heeb and Tablet, she (or he, as the real person behind the profile is unknown) was sending a press release in the form of a snarky email. She got what she wanted — more attention. Which will, in turn, get her even more currency in the social-media market. One day, she’ll apply for an internship or even a job at one of these publications with a few thousand followers and an e-book compendium of popular ironic tweets to her credit. And because we place value in these things, she’ll land that internship or job over someone with scruples who wouldn’t dream of muckraking a murdered woman in the name of instant fame.
A few years ago the neo-Nazi movement staged a march twenty minutes from where I, at the time, co-directed a Holocaust-genocide resource center. “What are we going to do about it?” I asked my group. “We’ve found in the past that the best reaction is to ignore them” was the response I received from seasoned educational professionals. It was a frustrating response, but in the end it made sense. Unless you could pull off a Joliet Jake-style drive-through of the protest, merely showing up and shouting “boo” would garner more attention than the demonstrators were worth.
The same can be said for the folderol surrounding Hipster Anne Frank. Since the news broke on September 22, Hipster Anne Frank has gone from 49 to 440 followers and counting. Perhaps, in this instance, a Joliet Jake-style Twitterbomb is in order. However, before the righteous dare to speak out (especially from the platform of such renown publications), they should keep in mind the age old axiom: “There is no such thing as bad publicity.”