#AITApets: jokingly judging pets on Twitter to boost general morale as a reaction to the COVID pandemic

Liz Marsden, Alba Mila-Garcia

Tutkimustuotos: Konferenssiin myötävaikuttaminenTutkielma


This paper concerns a specific thread from the Twitter account @AITA_Online, which was specifically created to repost AITA (‘Am I the Asshole’) posts from the Reddit community of the same name, where users share morally questionable situations in which they have found themselves and seek genuine community judgement. We analyse an unusual ‘AITA’ thread that started during the first Covid-19 lockdown, created by @AITA_Online (rather than reposted), encouraging members of the affinity space to participate in a group event and share pictures and descriptions of humorous undesirable behaviours their pets engaged in. These posts adopted the same format of typical AITA posts, but in this case, the posters jokingly accused their pets of perfectly understandable animal behaviour.
This thread had unusually high engagement, both ‘ambient affiliation’
Zappavigna, 2011, 2014) in the form of likes and participation in numerous polls, and active affiliation through supportive and positive replies, as the community attempted to draw attention away from matters concerning the pandemic. Sharing pet pictures also became a source of demonstrating in-group
membership as pet-owners via “digitally visual self-representations” (Maddox 2021, p. 3334); displaying humour within “a play frame created by the participants, with a backdrop of in-group knowledge” (Boxer & Cortés-Conde, 1997, p. 277); and affinity with others within the space. Even comments that did not receive much engagement contributed to the group’s demonstration of
Interestingly, @AITA_Online’s role in this thread was much more active than usual. While their role is usually limited to reposting interesting Reddit situations, and they appear to view their community as a fan base that they manage (Marwick and boyd, 2010) with a minimum of direct interaction, in this thread they directly solicited participation, and participated themselves, framing
it as a ‘distraction’ needed by both them as an individual and their followers.


KonferenssiX International Symposium on Intercultural, Cognitive and Social Pragmatics
LyhennettäEPICS X


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