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.
Steve told me he thought that was "hilarious"; thus was born a great big brisket of Twitter beef.
The next day, Steve told Al to "Wake up, fat boy." Roker responded by comparing Steve to the extremely NSFW image that serves as Steve's Twitter background. (It's topless ladies.)
A week later, Steve returned to the face punch motif.
And Al Roker made fun of some sneakers Steve had posted on his page. (Note: Roker does not follow Steve on Twitter.)
A few days later, the duo once again exchanged punch-themed insults.
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."
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.
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]
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