Eric Alper, the ur-poster
"Bachman-Turner Overdrive," reads a tweet posted at 6am by Eric Alper. Sure enough, below the fold is a black and white photo of Robbie Bachman, Randy Bachman, and Fred Turner. This was his 11th tweet of the day, and just like all the others, there does not appear to be any propulsive spark for its germination. It relates to no news stories, or blog-friendly album anniversaries, or even a contrarian intellectual deep-read of the blue-collar sorrow hidden within "Takin' Care of Business." No, it is just a picture of Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
A few hours before, at three in the goddamn morning when the only people awake are me and a few other lunatics, Alper offered this: "Eddie Van Halen, Brian Setzer, and Ritchie Sambora in the 1980s." Once again, his beguiling assertion is airtight. The photo below does indeed feature Eddie Van Halen, Brain Setzer, and Ritchie Sambora, smothered in feathered hair and basalt aviators, in what appears to be the 1980s. So, this is some boomer music account? A place where Alper signal boosts the various backstage clippings he finds on Pinterest? Not exactly. Another Alper tweet, again from witching hour: "The Swedish chef and some trainee." We're looking at the titular Muppets character, locking eyes with Gordon Ramsay, which is the sort of thematic matchup best suited for the halcyon, Invader Zim era of Reddit. In the morning, Alper returns with an all-time classic in dishwater, True Neutral posting: "What food does your mom make better than anyone in the universe?"
Eric Alper hosts a radio show on SiriusXM, and despite some of the eldritch shivers that we're about to dive into, he generally seems like a nice guy. His Twitter account exists in a strange, omnivorous power vacuum: 760,000 followers, 300,000 following. This is an aside, but someday there will be an On Posting about the rare specimens who've cultivated that bizarre ratio. They show up in your notifications with arcane, fake-sounding shit in their bio like "TECH INVESTOR, WEB OPTIMIST," flaunting the sort of anonymous clout that can only be attained by following every single person they've seen on the app over the course of a decade. Your phone buzzes, making you believe for a nanosecond that somebody actually important had taken an interest in your work, only to discover that you're the just the latest inveterate poster to be caught in their cyberspace-spanning fishing trawl. They are not here to read your newsletter; they're here to make countless indistinguishable posts about shadowy Biztech Solutions for an ever-increasing dormant audience — forcing a veneer of pyrrhic influencership through nothing but unrelenting brute force.
Anyways, Alper doesn't come from that same stock. I will not pretend like I am a listener of his radio show, but it is clear that he did hold some genuine gravitas before morphing into this composite of freezing cold music takes — like the spirit of @horse_ebooks haunting an old, VHS copy of Almost Famous. Most of his posts read like unauthorized reprints from the murky fringes of your uncle's Facebook feed, (there's a lot of Hendrix,) but Alper does mix in the occasional colorless image macro that seems preternaturally designed to absorb the most lobotomized inter-generational retweets as possible. "10 percent the taste of fruit juice, 90 percent the taste of wax," he writes, linking to a string of those horrible soda-bottle candies. It's the perfect normie meme — apolitical, inert, and corn syrup-like in its all-purpose versatility. Eric has a knack for locating the lowest common denominator of cultural literacy — Led Zeppelin good, wax bottles bad — and he goes back to that well over and over again.
Those posts are the most tedious elements of Alper's overflowing arsenal, but he also has a few indelible dad jokes up his sleeve that don't carry quite the same Upworthyish milieu. "Guitars are sad, they're always getting picked on," he tweeted, hours after his Bachman-Turner non sequitur. (It should be said that all of these posts I'm citing in this piece come from the exact same day.) Not bad! I'd laugh heartily at that punchline while locked in conversation with a tertiary relative at Thanksgiving. But lo, even in Alper's candid moments, there is something uncanny simmering under the hood. Because, dear reader, Eric Alper has tweeted that joke literally 10 different times in the past. I'm not kidding. Here is one from 2011. Here is one from 2013. Here is one from 2016, 2019, and so on. What is even stranger is that all of these tweets seem to arrive on or around February 2, fueling speculation that Alper has given up his Twitter account to some sort of tranquil bot-farm — its sacred mission is to fill the timeline with sedated Facebook fluff, satiating the appetite of those who are lucky enough to not take Twitter nearly as seriously as all 891 of you who subscribe to this newsletter.
Even better, sometimes Alper drops all pretenses and takes up the stead of, like, a 2009-style RSS feed. "After serving as the CEO of Amazon for 25 years, Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role. The founder of the e-commerce giant will transition into the role of executive chair as Andy Jassy takes over as CEO," he announces, with all the dispassion of the CNN ticker. Again, no commentary, no analysis, just a semi-sentient receipt of the Things People Seem To Be Talking About, before moving on to a photo of The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
This is the strategy employed by an untold number of diehard clout chasers. Social media dominance can only be achieved by peak, broadstroke relatability, which remains the darkest trick that the Dorsey estate ever pulled. That's why publications like the Ringer are forced to post Jack Nicholson reaction gifs at a higher clip than their own stories; it's an appeal to normie-hipster hybrids — young men in Bill Murray shirts, primarily — who remain a crucial driver of all web traffic in the known universe. Naturally, I see a lot of people who find themselves constantly aggrieved, or at least confused, by Eric Alper — specifically because his Twitter presence reads like a distillation of a number of different unseemly instincts in ruthless Chartbeat optimization. "I don't get this guy at all," writes Drew Savicki, linking to several instances where Eric Alper tweeted, "What 90s song will always be a banger?" Who knows where that resentment comes from — a lingering sense of exhaustion of the social media apparatus, or a high school friend who keeps retweeting him into their immaculately curated timeline — but it is clear that many of the Extremely Online interpret him as an enemy.
Personally, I believe that this is the wrong conclusion to draw. The funny thing about Alper is that unlike the grifters running his playbook, he's not really in pursuit of any glory. Alper's only goal was to be a Music Guy with decent engagement, and it doesn’t appear that he’s spent one second thinking about his brand beyond that. There is no other apex on the horizon; no desire to get more famous than he already is; no wishlist in his bio. He is simply using Twitter the exact same way he was using it in 2009 — posing anodyne questions to nobody in particular, and sharing photos of Jimmy Page deep into the night. The world changed, and logging onto Twitter now requires a gutterspeak fluency in a contorting cast of characters that are vaporized from memory in an instant; guys like Bean Dad, Zoom Dick Man, and yes, Eric Alper. Throughout all that time, he held strong. In Alper's pocket dimension, Twitter never grew distressing and myopic; instead it remained a place to talk about the sandwich you're currently eating. The innocent old days, where nobody really knew why they were on this website, are alive and well. You just have to check out his page.
What I'm saying is that there is no reason to hate a man for refusing to engage in this routine of trifling annoyance, chronic injury, and habitual doomscrolling that the rest of us have bought into. It's undeniable that if we all posted more like Alper, we'd likely be several degrees happier. That enlightenment should evoke self-actualization, not rage. It really doesn't have to be this way. A better world, where your mom understands your tweets, is possible. Set aside the Galaxy Brains, pick up the Spicoli stills. Say, do you ever wonder why guitars are sad all the time?