How Sockington, Cat With 1.5M Twitter Followers, Explains Society

What's left of it

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Jason Scott is an expert in all things Web culture, so when he ventured onto then-new social networking site Twitter, he knew how to appeal to the needs and desires of the Internet. Scott signed up his cat, Sockington--now his ex-wife's cat--for an account. Sockington has since gained over 1.5 million followers, more than 25 times the following of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The cat's celebrity inspired a musical tribute and even garnered a recent profile in People Magazine. How did Scott/Sockington do it, and what does their rise to power reveal about the nature of society today?

  • Reveals Media's Slowness to Understand New Things  Case in point from Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar is that Sockington is just now getting written up after years of fame. "I got annoyed a few weeks ago reading the AP's headline about Sockington, the Twitter cat: 'Sockington: Twitter's Latest Star A Microblogging Cat.' Really? Twitter's latest star? That's funny, because I remember Sockington being a hit at ROFLThing in January. And getting a ridiculous number of nominations for the Shorty Awards in February (he didn't win but he certainly made a dent)."
  • People Love to Put Animals Online  The New York Times' Saul Hansell reports, "There’s a long history of animals on the Internet, of course, with a menagerie of blogs, e-mail lists, profiles and even live puppy cams. Facebook has tried, in vain, to ban nonhuman members, which has led to entire canine social networks. Twitter, [tweeting cat owner Rachel] Hodder argues, is not suited to all animals. Cats, she said, are always striking a pose that implies the sort of pithy bon mot that is perfect for Twitter."
  • We Project Onto the Mystery of Cats  The Boston's Globe's Billy Baker mused on  Sockington's popularity, saying "Cats are up to something. They are mysterious creatures, and invite speculation if an owner is to even pretend to understand them.Winston Churchill gave it some thought and determined, simply, that 'cats look down on us.'"
  • Tweeting Cats Appeal to All Cultures  After all, Syrian blogger Kinan Jarjous has the same delighted reaction as Sockington's Western fans. "Argh, Twitter, the cursed messiah of future entertainment, the future newsroom, the plain future. When I joined I didn’t know what to make of it, report news, report daily stuff, report humor, report what? Apparently, just report whatever comes to mind. But then I stumbled upon Sockington, a cat that twitters, and by far this cat this the most successful and interesting twerson ever!!"
  • Why Cats Are Universal  Mental Floss' Miss Cellanie gushes, "After pornography, cats are possibly the most popular subject matter on the internet. They’re cute, they can be really funny, and most internet users have at least one of their own. ... As Twitter has grown, it has welcomed its share of cats like the rest of the blogosphere."
  • Redefines What Makes a 'Celebrity'  TechCrunch's Robin Wauters balks, "I dig Twitter and I understand why celebrities – who continue to flock to the service as if their careers and social status depend on it – manage to attract massive amounts of users following their every 140-character move, but this is getting plain ludicrous. ... Sockington (aka Socks aka Sockamillion) has his own website, and some members of the group of followers – which now even have their own name, Socks Army – are buying T-shirts with the animal’s tweets printed on them. The pet’s owner, Jason Scott, is even getting interviewed (repeatedly) and speaking at events about the Twitter account."
  • Stay True to Yourself  That's the lesson owner Jason Scott wants you to walk away with. People's Sharon Cotliar writes, "So far Scott has resisted turning his cat into a cash cow. [Scott said,] 'We've been contacted by agents. But I'd rather people say, Remember Sockington the cat? Rather than, Remember Sockington? He was really good until that book.' Sockington too has stayed true to himself, despite his fame."
  • Animals Can Have Very Human Personalities  The Boston Globe produced this video about Sockington and Jason Scott:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.