July 12, 2013

@JoanDidion goes out with a bang (thanks, WSJ!)


Running a fake Twitter account for a writer is hardly likely to make you famous, but the Twitter community collectively cackled yesterday after @JoanDidion was mistaken for the real Joan Didion in a Wall Street Journal article. “My last full day on Twitter,” “Didion” wrote this morning; the WSJ ran the headline, “Joan Didion Tweets about quitting Twitter.”

After Alice Munro and Philip Roth announced they were finished with writing, it’s hardly surprising a journalist mistook the tweet for news. But the @JoanDidion account was not only missing that white checkmark of verification, the bio also read, “Joan’s tweets inspired by Joan (she dislikes [micro]blogs) and edited by a chill dude who writes and works in advertising.” Also, author Joan Didion has said before that she doesn’t care to keep up with social media.

Twitter users—likely stuck in offices at the end of a long, hot week—leapt at the chance to tell the Wall Street Journal about the parody account. This is up there with @EvilWylie for five minutes of book-internet fame.

The initial article offered a look at “Didion’s” final tweets.

“An earlier version of this story said the @JoanDidion account was the author’s actual account. It is a parody. The article has been updated,” the correction reads.

In the updated article, the person keeping up the false account is revealed to be Erik Stinson, a guy who works for a large ad agency in Manhattan. The WSJ emailed him for a comment—because they had no option but to fill out an article that was about the end of a parody account on Twitter—and he said he was shutting it down “because it feels disingenuous to continue. There are a lot of people who really feel like they are @ing Joan, and I have a specific sad emotional response to that.”

Later in the day, @JoanDidion added:

Meanwhile, the real Joan Didion has been busy accepting a National Humanities Medal at the White House. She did an interview with Maud Newton and remarked, “People have absolutely no sense of humor at all.”


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.