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14/05/2018 13:12 SAST | Updated 14/05/2018 13:13 SAST

True Love Doesn't Depend On Twitter Retweets And Neither Should We

Twitter retweets are not a legitimate form of currency and we need to stop begging for things with them. There, I said it.

Twitter retweets are not a legitimate form of currency and we need to stop begging for things with them. There, I said it.

It's enabling people to make poor life choices and force others to be responsible for their happiness. And it's embarrassing if the Earth was actually flat, I'd walk right off into the void of space to get away from it all.

My ire is fueled by a recent story about a 19-year-old American who asked Air Canada for a flight to Newfoundland to meet his Canadian internet girlfriend for the first time since they "met" on a dating app a year ago. The duo have been texting for about six months and are head over heels for each other.

Prior to tweeting at the airline, CJ Poirier had dropped out of college (yes, really!) to save up to see Becca Warren. Sometimes, teenagers make decisions like that. As a certified former teenager, I too have made impulsive decisions (I'm looking at you, 2012 Powerpoint presentation about why Zayn Malik is perfect husband material).

GoFundMe/530kforbecca
CJ and Becca.

I don't hate true love, let's be clear. I ship John Legend and Chrissy Teigen with the white-hot passion of a thousand burning suns. I mourned when Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan broke up. I grew up watching Disney, so I know true love saves the day and all that. And while I'm not going to pretend I'm not skeptical about the longevity of CJ and Becca's young romance, I truly wish them well and hope it flourishes.

But this entire endeavour has been an absolute embarrassment, not only for them, but for Air Canada, which offered CJ a free flight to Newfoundland if he amassed 530,000 retweets for his cause about the same number as the province's population.

Spoiler alert: CJ failed, because the internet is full of dirty cynics like me. The tweet racked up a mere 30,000 retweets by the company's May 9 deadline, so Air Canada offered to let people "donate" their retweets to help CJ get to 530,000.

I cannot describe the degree of secondhand embarrassment I endured watching the country's largest airline plead with Drake, Justin Trudeau, and an assortment of other celebrities to "donate" their retweets (et tu, Tessa and Scott?) so that Poirier could hit an arbitrary number, and Air Canada could keep itself in people's good graces.

It's clear the company is fishing for all the positive publicity it can get in the light of a lot of negativeheadlines recently.

Because hey! If you were going to be generous with flights as an air travel company, why not axe your bereavement fares for people who need them, at least for a couple days? Instead of profiting off people in times of immense suffering — and encouraging a teen's short-sighted decision to drop out of college for a girl he's never met — help out some people that are in dire need of some good news.

Must we give corporations even more power and influence over us in the hopes that they will give us scraps like the occasional free flight back?

In a day or two, it won't matter. Social media attention is brief, fleeting and a gigantic waste of time that ultimately only benefits the companies and people exploiting it for free publicity. Why would anyone bother with paid advertising when you could become a hip social media genie by granting millennials and Gen Xers their wishes in exchange for headline after headline (and I know, I'm contributing with this piece)?

We already give these mega-corporations and massively famous people so much of our money and time —must we give them even more power and influence over us in the hopes that they will give us scraps like the occasional free flight back? I'm sure the intentions behind these things aren't malicious, but it's gotten old fast.

Sure, it was vaguely amusing when Tumblr user @thatsmoderatelyraven asked for 500,000 notes on a post so that her mother would get her a fluffy white Silkie chicken back in 2013. It was still novel when Carter Wilkerson asked Wendy's for free chicken nuggets last year, in exchange for millions of retweets. And I was somewhat charmed when David Harbour appeared in a teen's yearbook photo in January after she successfully got her retweets.

But now, searching Twitter for "how many RTs" brings up a deluge of people begging various bands, sports teams and celebrities for favours, visits and a multitude of other things.

As for CJ, I applaud his dedication to his e-love, but he did not need to drop out of college to do it. Did Gabriella Montez turn down Stanford to stay with the "love of her life" Troy Bolton in the cinematic masterpiece, "High School Musical 3"? No sir, she did not, and their love still made it.

According to Google, a roundtrip ticket from Clarkston, Michigan to Corner Brook, Newfoundland costs approximately C$655. The minimum wage in Michigan is US$9.25/hour which is C$11.85. Ergo, this entire debacle could have been avoided if CJ worked for around 51 hours. That's less than two weeks of full-time work, and less than a month of part-time work if he wanted to be responsible and finish his education, so that he could get a higher paying job in the future to be able to afford to see Becca more than once.

As modern legend, rap goddess and my personal hero Nicki Minaj likes to say, "Go to school, get your education."

So unless you're a celebrity turning the tables and asking for retweets for once because you want to meet penguins — the only legitimate reason to be grovelling for social media attention in the first place — please, for the love of everything good on this spinning orb we call a planet, S T O P.

(But also, @aircanada, if you don't hate me yet, can you hook a girl up and fly me over to meet the love of my life Timothee Chalamet? Thanks!)