It’s a social media sensation that’s sparked stories on the Today show, EOnline, and the Us Weekly and New York magazine websites. It all started when an apparent teenager named Chelsea Smith, who has less than 1,000 Twitter followers, shared her duh realization about earrings with the world: “After my nineteen years of living i have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off.”
After my nineteen years of living i have now realized that you are supposed to take the plastic part off pic.twitter.com/ejValCaa7G
— Chelsea Smith (@Chelsea__Smithh) August 1, 2015
Her comment has now been retweeted some 44,000 times, and favorited another 42,000.
The realization “shocked a lot of people to their core,” wrote EOnline. New York magazine said the tweet is “dividing women into warring factions and threatening to undo all of Taylor Swift’s hard work to make girls be nicer to each other.” Today warned: “You will never look at earrings the same way again” and added “it seems the entire Internet has been weighing in on the debate.”
Well, maybe not the entire Internet, but it gave other Twitter-ers plenty to sound off about:
@Chelsea__Smithh I honestly had no idea! You’ve opened me up to a whole new world.
— Ashlee B. (@AshBoesch) August 4, 2015
@Chelsea__Smithh it only took me 33 years AND YOUR TWEET.
— Amy Courts (@amycourts) August 3, 2015
— r (@birdsnteas) August 2, 2015
@Chelsea__Smithh I dont think so. This is made To support heavy earings!
— Maris Colombari (@mariscolombari) August 3, 2015
— mike (@iateacat) August 3, 2015
“I am surprised by how much attention this has gotten,” he says. “Jewelers should get in on this, it’s a fun one. Perhaps they can say: If you don’t like your backing, we’ll have a backing swap. There are lots of creative possibilities.”
Lately, social media has become known for its unfortunate ability to generate online lynch mobs. But the debate over this earring issue—and calling it an “issue” probably gives it more significance than it deserves—shows that, at its best, it can be a lot of fun.
It can also be enlightening. The freewheeling discussions on social media can sometimes spark better consumer insights than standard methods such as focus groups. Who knew that such confusion reigned over plastic earring backs?
Of course, no one can precisely pinpoint why this tweet caused such a fuss, while other messages, sometimes on weightier topics, end up ignored. But Perosi points out that the original tweet struck the perfect tone for social media and advises jewelers to take note of it.
“There are a lot of jewelers who overthink social media,” he says. “It can just be a tidbit of knowledge, or saying, ‘Look at this cool thing.’ ”
“It’s not supposed to be a place to sell. It’s like a cocktail party. It’s trying to get someone to remember your name.”