Chicago-based comedy writer Daniel Kibblesmith is an unsung hero when it comes to trolling Twitter users. The former Groupon copywriter and current Onion News Network contributor is responsible for a handful of Twitter accounts aimed at confusing — and entertaining — the masses. His greatest achievement so far is GOPTeens, an account written in the style of someone’s uncool dad (complete with an overabundance of hashtags) trying to prove how hip conservative values are. I corresponded with Kibblesmith via email to find out where the idea came from, discuss the hilariously mixed reactions he receives on Twitter, and ask what he’d really tell the youth of America.
Flavorwire: First of all, where’d this idea come from?
Daniel Kibblesmith: Like all great ideas, it came from an impulsive domain name purchase. I saw that GOPTeens.com was available and I thought the idea of someone like me having control of that was pretty funny, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I made a static About.me page and more or less forgot about it. I think it was months later that I thought to check if the Twitter handle was free and the whole idea clicked into place.
How often are your tweets seen as sincere, and how often do people seem to be in on the joke?
The life cycle of the average GOPTeens follower is “Is this a joke?” followed by “Oh, this is a joke,” and finally “Hey, check out this joke.” Now that it’s fairly well-known, there’s usually someone around to diffuse the uncertainty before it gets out of hand, and the fun for most people seems to come from being in on the joke and holding it up as a parody of their worst fears about the people they disagree with.
That being said, one of the followers is the verified US Senate account of Rand Paul, and he has not replied to any of my direct messages asking for #selfies, so I don’t know what his motives are (yet).
How many teens have you reached, would you say, and what are the #issues they care about the most?
At first I had zero teen followers and never anticipated any, but I totally underestimated the teen appeal of an old man voice falling flat on his face trying to be cool in front of young people, even beyond the possibility that it might be real. Right now the account has around 45k followers, mostly left-leaning teens, still developing their own political identities, but ready to believe that Republican adults are capable of any atrocity.
I follow a lot of them back, and some of the most important issues on the minds of today’s teens are SpongeBob screencaps, Starbucks, and prom. Bae is also important, whatever that is, and a shocking number of teens are 300% done and many of them can’t even.
How would you describe your Twitter account? Is it parody? Is it ironic?
I hate the connotations of “parody account,” because to me that just conjures images of the bear from Ted smoking a bong while Ron Burgundy talks about the problems that white girls have. I refer to it as troll account, which is probably worse.
What advice would you give to the teens of America, future GOP leaders or otherwise?
Don’t believe everything you read unless it flatters you for having the right opinion and makes the people you disagree with look like idiots, it’s the only way we can move forward as a nation. Also, if you buy a T-shirt, I get a dollar.