A British girl thought Baracco Barner was “our president” and worried that he was getting involved in Russia. She admits she very rarely watches the news. Her tweet, sent last week, has gained her overnight fame.
Gemma Worrall, 20, a beautician from Blackpool, insists she is not as clueless as her tweet suggests, and that the autocorrect function changed the spelling. As for President Obama’s apparent demotion to leading the UK and not the mighty US of A, she protests she is well aware that David Cameron is prime minister. While she may insist that her mistakes were simply careless, nothing could have prepared her for the reaction they have received. Overnight, she became an instantaneous celebrity and hashtag #barracobarner was trending.
Although most commentators were pleased to have been given a good laugh, the Barraco Barner tweet earned its fair share of vicious and cruel retorts, excoriating Gemma for her stupidity. The incident illustrates once again the power of social media, and how one innocuous, and hastily dashed off post can create a ripple effect right across the world. With 200 million users on Twitter every day, this can happen with great rapidity. Gemma did not immediately delete her tweet because she was enjoying the fact it seemed to be amusing others, as it was continuously retweeted. Her worried mother insisted that she did, but it was too late. Screen shots had been taken, and it continued doing the rounds. It had already appeared in the Australian press. Within half a day, it was viral. A spoof account @Barracobarner was up and running.
She continues to keep her twitter account live, but scrolls past the nasty comments and only reads the positive ones. She would not pause, for example, on the tweet which asks “Can you give us your insight on the situation in You Crayon and how #barracobarner should deal with Voldemort Poo Tin?” Amongst the twitticule are some grisly threats. It has opened her eyes to the realities of cyber-bullying. Notoriety for being dumb is not something this young girl who has 17 GCSEs and 2 A Levels, one of those in “Travel,” would have courted. Those qualifications are the equivalent of a good SAT score. Some have suggested that her action was cynical, designed to bring her attention, but she denies this. Her parents, meanwhile, are said to be “fuming and embarrassed.”
Others have intimated that the fact Ms Worrall is an attractive young lady has at least something to do with her internet escalation. Whether this makes the response sexist as well as intellectually judgemental is another question.
As a consequence, she has decided it is time she got better educated on current affairs and intends to brush up on the situation in Ukraine. She will take a particular interest in what Barraco Barner is up to. At school, she says, politics was never on the curriculum. Ultimately she would like to go to University and study business, but for now she is saving for a trip to Ibiza. She is not cashing in on her sudden social media stardom.
Her clumsy question has sparked up the debate about the “dumbing down” of Britain and both the state of the education system and young people’s lack of interest in politics. If Gemma thought Barraco Barner’s interventions into Russian politics was “scary” so a lot of social onlookers find her lack of basic knowledge. However, as far as maths goes, she now has 8,027 followers as opposed to 400, so she knows something about generating publicity by now.
Worried about possible offence to the leader of the free world, Gemma has since tweeted “I hope I haven’t offended the real@BarackObama” and she has turned down requests for interviews, saying she does not want to “embrace” her “stupid tweet.” Her advice to others is to think before they tweet.
One writer, Fraser Nelson, in The Spectator applauds Gemma’s complete lack of interest in who runs which country. He quotes Walt Whitman to explain:
Those who look carelessly in the faces of President and Governors, as
To say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constran’d, never obedient
Those of inland America.
Swap Inland America for coastal Britain, he says, and you have the perfect makings of a successful democracy where citizens find politicians completely unimportant. The “freer the country” suggests Nelson, the less anyone needs to know about who is in charge of it. Ms Worral certainly fulfills that brief.
Her hilarious misspelling of Barraco Barner has made her a viral tweet sensation and proved there are many curious routes to fame in the twenty-first century.
By Kate Henderson