Alice's Bucket List Turns Into a Game of Telephone

When a topic goes viral on Twitter, information can travel at lightening speed. Just ask Anthony Weiner. While in the Weiner case, the information that quickly spread was close to the original message, sometimes twitter turns into a giant game of Telephone. You know, that game you used to play as a kid where you whispered a sentence to the person sitting next to you, and they whispered it to the next person, and so on, until the message made its way all around the room. It’s often comical to hear just how much the message can be twisted.

Twitter can twist information quickly. People retweet links without opening them. They accept words as absolute truth. Sometimes messages are embellished or contorted. Bill Crosby, Jackie Chan, Aaron Carter, Jeff Goldblum, and countless other celebrities have all been “killed” by Twitter’s Telephone game.

The Telephone Game seems to be exactly what is to blame for a global trending topic that first popped up the evening of June 8th. #AliceBucketList was added to countless tweets for hours, allegedly as part of a united effort to help a 15-year old terminal cancer patient become a trending topic on Twitter. It was, after all, something that she had listed on her bucket list.

Except that it wasn’t.

Alice Pyne’s story checks out. It’s the trending topic part that the Twitter collective made up. Initially, tweets about Alice’s story included a link to her blog along with calls for help to achieve the things in the bucket list (things like “Meet Take That” and “Swim with Sharks”) in her right sidebar. But as the game of Telephone went on, that link was quickly replaced with an invalid link that landed anyone who clicked on it at an error message. Eventually people caught on that they were retweeting an invalid link and started to just leave it off. Who knows exactly when trending was first mentioned as a part of the bucket list, but what’s for certain is that Alice didn’t put it there.

But does it matter?

I personally don’t think so. In this instance, it was a case of people wanting to help a sick 15-year old girl they had never met. Showing compassion towards a stranger is never a bad thing. The fact that people using Twitter twisted the message a bit to try to make it something they could actually do is just part of human nature. Very few of us have the power to make swimming with sharks possible for Alice, but we all can help make something a trending topic.

Hopefully, making #AliceBucketList a trending topic accomplished the one thing that matters most--if even just one person went through with Alice’s wish to have everyone sign up to be a bone marrow donor, then that is one person who may just save a life. It will all be thanks to Twitter’s Telephone game.


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