B.o.B.’s ‘Flat Earth’ Tweets and The Art of Viral Trolling

Is this the work of a tinfoil-hat-wearing nutcase, or a marketing genius?

rapper b.o.b. flat earth

Rapper b.o.b. flat earth

In 1729, Jonathan Swift proposed that the solution to Irish economic troubles was to eat human babies. Beneath his serious tone was a brilliant, profound work of satire.

In 2016, Atlanta rapper B.o.B. writes a slew of tweets suggesting that he believes the Earth is flat (best part: Neil deGrasse Tyson schooling him). The suggestion is as ludicrous as Swift’s, but B.o.B. is adamant and does not appear to be kidding. Is he an unhinged moron, or are his tweets a work of Swift-ian satire?

If the effect of B.o.B.’s litany of tweets is explosive viral trolling, it doesn’t really matter if he’s kidding or not. No publicity is bad publicity, and there are millions of eyes and ears on the Grammy-nominated musician today. How many people will download the mixtape promoted at the top of his Twitter page as a result of his ludicrous tweets? You can almost hear the clatter of keyboard strokes as marketing executives take notes.

Donald Trump’s campaign has made an art form of pissing people off with absurd, inflammatory comments. The art of ignorance has catapulted him into the front of his campaign. What if you were to create a character out of this behavior, in the same way that Jaoquin Phoenix fooled millions of fans with bad freestyle rap and inscrutable sulking during the filming of I’m Still Here?

From Trump to Shia LaBeof, bad-behavior social media performance art is a powerful marketing tool in the social media era. Whether B.o.B. intended to or not, he just gave a master class.

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