“Does everybody know who Tucker Max is?” host Julia Allison asked the audience of mostly iPad-equipped twenty-somethings at Social Media Week on Tuesday evening. “Why else would you be in the basement of the Hyatt?” said Max, quick to assure his interviewer that everyone in the audience had come to hear solid, if not offensive, advice from the self-proclaimed asshole whose debut story collection “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” was made into a movie in 2009. The University of Chicago alum who turns 36 next week got into character by taking the stage with his own personal prop: a bottle of Fat Tire beer.
During his hour-long talk, Max repeatedly harped on the evils of corporate America (and the banality of their corresponding Twitter feeds), but was quick to defend his own authenticity and transparency as a prominent personality in social media. For a guy that claims he’s simply trying to be himself, Max certainly takes a calculated and highly self-aware approach to his Twitter feed.
“The point of a Twitter feed is that people want to be entertained,” he said, adding “if it’s not funny for me, I don’t post it.” And though he insisted he’s not trying to sell anything by using social media, his Twitter feed shows that he has no problem with shamelessly plugging his new book in an August 16th tweet. He also admitted to monitoring the analytics of his feed to track exactly when his followers were most interested in his 140 characters or less.
He has over 165,000 Twitter followers, but Max, who prides himself on having made a name for himself “outside of the system” as he puts it, is perhaps his own biggest fan. When an audience member asked about the negative feedback he receives from his not-so-friendly Tweets, Max quoted one of his heroes, Eminem: “I love being hated because it lets me know I made it.”
While touting the virtues of his “spot-on” Twitter feed, Max advised that if you’re not communicating something that other people care about, “then it’s just self-indulgent” (an ironic statement coming from a guy who makes his living off indulging in his own detailed accounts of sex, exploitation, and otherwise bad behavior).
By his own standards of reasoning, entertainers are the only people entitled to such self-indulgence, and only in the name of hilarity, as the title of Max’s third book, due out in February, suggests. But at Social Media Week Chicago Tuesday night, hilarity did not ensue. Instead of laughing, I was really hoping they served beer in the basement of the Hyatt so I could take a drink for every time Tucker Max said “I’m an entertainer.”