Have narcissists followed people

Jan Böhmermann - Followed by nobody you follow.

Narcissistic boomer essay or historical documentation?

The book by ZDF presenter and podcaster Jan Böhmermann "Followed by nobody you follow", published on September 10, 2020, breaks new ground: The entire book consists of own tweets from the last 11 years. Our editor Max Schmid explains whether this cannot be surpassed in terms of narcissism or whether it is a contemporary documentary.

I was very critical of Jan Böhmermann's book beforehand. It seemed to me like one of the first “Corona projects” - projects that you start because during the lockdown you don't know what to do with your time. But now I think that the pandemic is a good time to end a book on contemporary history. Because it can be assumed that in a few decades we will be talking about a time before and a time after Corona.

According to Böhmermann, the reason for his book was to bring the Internet into the analog world. For me this is a typical expression of boomer thinking. The purpose of platforms like Twitter is to share your opinion with other people quickly and easily. In my opinion, the expressions of opinion on social media should be understood on a daily basis and therefore not suitable for being summarized in a book. On the other hand, a tweet published 10 years ago may still have a certain relevance today against the background of further developments. Tweets that are often written in the affect from the Safe space Removing Twitter can also show what authors should justify or apologize for in hindsight. It is actually true that many people no longer have an overview of what data, opinions, photos, etc. of them are on the Internet. Especially on Twitter, the amount of data - in written form - is enormous.

Life and death of Kenneth Glöckler

That also shows the length of the book. Böhmermann processes his own tweets from the last 11 years on 464 pages. If you look at the book from the side, you can see annual rings like a tree, which show when a year ends and a new one begins. The contextual classification within the years succeeds with the help of footnotes that adorn almost every tweet. They help to contextualize the current events, which have been described with just a few characters.

And here lies the strength and importance of the book. It is a chronology of the last 11 years. All significant and less significant events and personalities of contemporary history are represented in it. Outstanding: Because the tweets were written directly in the situation, the emotional level of individual events can be felt much more clearly and intensely than in a regular chronology of events. Böhmermann's book shows how groundbreaking the last decade was in many ways, not only in a factual, but also partly in a humorous and satirical form. Individual events such as the AfD's victory in the federal elections in 2013 and 2017, Pegida, Trump's 2016 election victory, terrorism, Böhmermann's Erdogan affair, the Strache case, FFF, the refugee situation in 2015, Deniz Yücel, hate speech on the Internet, New Year's Eve in Cologne, Hunting in Chemnitz and many other explosive topics are represented. Not from a historical, political or social science perspective, but as Böhnermamm's view of the world. He succeeds in combining autobiographical events on the one hand and social events on the other. The individual events, lined up in 460 pages, cannot of course fully explain today's situation, but they do cause many "AHA" effects for the readers.

Personally, I was again made aware of long-forgotten things and was able to determine in the book exactly when I began to deal intensively with politics and current affairs. What I also never really noticed: The communication style on the Internet has changed a lot. Not only in terms of the very extreme and radical tone, but also in terms of spelling. For me it was crazy to see that * g * and * gg * were written, which apparently stands for "grins" and "double grins". LOL, I can only say and would like to allow myself a final judgment.

"What if I am a real person and YOU are the fictional characters?"

What I would have liked would be the number of likes, comments and retweets on the individual tweets, in order to be able to classify in addition to the temporal development which content was particularly well or badly received by the users at what time. Even if Böhmermann is not exactly known as an environmentalist, he has proven his recycling skills with the book. Except for the foreword and afterword (excluding the very factual footnotes), there is no running text that was written by him and that is a shame for several reasons. Böhnermamm is on Twitter and in his entire public figure as a fictional character. As a satirist and moralist, the tweets were originally written and are accordingly available in the book. Such a historical and personal work would be a great chance to let Jan Böhmermann peek out from behind the bunker-like facades. The fact that this did not happen diminishes the information content. On the other hand, tweets are a product of their time and many tweets are likely to have been sorted out because a chronological classification was no longer possible.

On the other hand, I find it impressive that connections have been found for many tweets after a decade in some cases. The layout is excellent and the information content is tight. At first I was amazed at the categorization as a “non-fiction book”, but this is very justified after the first few pages. The book gives such a deep insight into the last 10 years that you actually feel like you have been transported back in time.

Is Böhmermann's current book a “narcissistic boomer essay” or a “contemporary historical documentation”? I would definitely say yes to the latter. Because this crucial point makes “Followed by nobody you follow” a book worth reading in the first place. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that the book was very heavy not only because of the number of pages, but also because of the narcissism that oozes out of the pages. Even if I'm right about the book and the book concept booming think, I have to say, that it didn't really trigger foreign shame in me and is therefore fully worth reading.

Jan Böhmermann deletes all tweets that find their place in the book from the Twitter platform on the day of publication. He has thus achieved his goal of bringing the Internet into analogue reality.

Author:Max Schmid

More info

Followed by no one you follow

Jan Böhmermann

Kiepenheuer & Witsch

RRP: 22.00 euros