Here is a portrait of Al Roker, America's weatherman, on Twitter: He follows lots of media folks and news organizations (and @BrunoMars), as well as two Twitter accounts that appear to tweet exclusively in Japanese. He recently surpassed 200,000 followers, which was important to him. Most of tweets can be classified in three discrete categories:
For someone who has made a career out of reading the weather as inoffensively as possible, Al Roker's Twitter feed is a derecho of drama. For the most part, these beefs are sliders — snappy one-and-done affairs. One of Today's 4,500,000 viewers will tweet something like "The last person I wanna wake up with is @alroker," and Al Roker, unwilling or unable to let even the most minor of slights go unremarked upon will resentfully retort "boo hoo. I am devastated."
In June, however, Roker received a tweet from the man who would become his greatest Twitter foe. An office worker named Steve, from Pittsburgh.
Fed up with rainy weather, Steve appealed to Al, god of weather, for sun. If Al did not comply, Steve said that he, an office worker from Pittsburgh, would punch him in the face. In response, Roker (jokingly) implied he would kill Steve.
@STEVEKNOWS_ hope you enjoy it, since it's the last thing you'll ever do, punk— Al Roker (@alroker) June 20, 2013
Steve told me he thought that was "hilarious"; thus was born a great big brisket of Twitter beef.
@STEVEKNOWS_ Hey, you're just one more boob on your home page— Al Roker (@alroker) June 21, 2013
A week later, Steve returned to the face punch motif.
@STEVEKNOWS_ Dude, get a new act.— Al Roker (@alroker) June 28, 2013
And Al Roker made fun of some sneakers Steve had posted on his page. (Note: Roker does not follow Steve on Twitter.)
@STEVEKNOWS_ Adding to your collection of women's shoes?— Al Roker (@alroker) June 29, 2013
@STEVEKNOWS_ So sad. But nice try— Al Roker (@alroker) June 29, 2013
A few days later, the duo once again exchanged punch-themed insults.
@STEVEKNOWS_ Why not just punch yourself as you take a selfie?— Al Roker (@alroker) July 11, 2013
And then Al Roker, a millionaire TV star and father of three, called Steve, an office worker who spends much of his day tweeting one-liners (NSFW) at an account that posts pictures of naked women, "Sooooooo lame."
@STEVEKNOWS_ Sooooooo lame— Al Roker (@alroker) July 16, 2013
As of this week, the power dynamic has completely shifted, in favor of Steve. On Wednesday, he wrote that he might consider giving Roker an autograph. Al Roker descended completely into madness.
@STEVEKNOWS_ The good news is the tatoos distract from your flabby arms— Al Roker (@alroker) July 17, 2013
@STEVEKNOWS_ Talk about wasted time. Try using the big boy weights— Al Roker (@alroker) July 17, 2013
I asked Steve if he had any guesses about why Al Roker felt so compelled to respond to Steve's tweets in particular, out of the hundreds of white noise Twitter critiques he receives every day. His response indicated an almost avuncular fondness for Roker.
"I think he continues to tweet me because I [haven't] crossed any line with him. I still show respect (believe it or not). I don't say anything that's over the line. It's Twitter. It's suppose to be funny. I'm sure Al is a funny, down to earth guy in person."
Whether Roker's mutually antagonistic relationship with Steve from Pittsburgh will continue to eat away at his psyche, distracting him from family events, causing him to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, and ultimately seeping into all aspects of his life like a poison, remains to be seen.
For his part, Steve added this:
It's all funny cuz who "beefs" with a weatherman?
[Illustration by Sam Woolley]
To contact the author of this post, email caity@gawker.