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Bob Green's fascination with Twitter.

I'm fascinated with Twitter because Musk now owns it. Is it possible he won't dramatically improve it. Perhaps. I wouldn't bet against Elan. He may stumble in the short run but in the long run...he's a lion.

Twitter Is Less Exclusive Than a Fan Club

LeBron James has 53 million followers. In 1957, I carried an Everly Brothers card.

By Bob Greene

June 5, 2023 6:20 pm ET

LeBron James had a bit of news to share with his Twitter followers one Wednesday morning not long ago: He had awakened for the day. And just like that, all over the world, some 53 million people received the update.

Social media has enabled celebrities to connect to fans instantly with the tap of a finger.

It’s efficient, yet when I see the staggering numbers of digital followers that major celebrities accrue, I recall how stars reached their devotees before anyone had heard of the internet or smartphones: fan clubs that operated through the mail.

They were everywhere. The concept was simple. If you were interested in the life of a celebrity, a fan club would be glad to add you to its membership. Sometimes a club was administered by a movie studio or a record label, but often it was operated by a fan or group of fans, with the blessing of the star. You would mail a quarter to the fan club, and within a week or two you would receive a membership card with your name on it and perhaps a 5-by-7 glossy photo of the celebrity.

Tucking that membership card into your wallet—a plastic or cardboard one if you were too young for a real leather one—provided the illusion of a personal connection that is all but impossible when you see on a screen that you are one of 52 million. Every month or so a mimeographed newsletter would arrive in the mail telling you what your star was up to. The movie star or singer would wish you well and thank you for being a fan.

I was a member of only one club. On a morning in 1957 my clock radio snapped to life before elementary school, and an electrifying new song by two young men whose family was from Kentucky coal country absolutely jolted me—it, and they, was just so good. “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers sounded like nothing I had ever heard.

Soon enough I was carrying an Everly Brothers fan club card around with me. I had no idea if there were millions of other members, or two dozen. That’s not what mattered. Those newsletters with my name on the envelope would show up in our family’s mailbox alongside Reader’s Digest and my parents’ utility bills, and I would devour every word. It was as if I somehow knew Don and Phil Everly and they knew me; as if the mailman was bringing me personal notes from them.

Life will surprise you, and many decades later I found myself traveling with Don and Phil on occasion during tours, sometimes sharing backstage meals or car rides with them. I would never fail to let them know about the depth of my admiration for their talent, but I didn’t tell them about the card that, as a boy, I had carried in my wallet. Its place in my life still felt private.

Phil Everly died in 2014; Don died in 2021. The fan club card is long gone, and mimeographed newsletters no longer arrive in the mail. But that’s all right. All I have to do is dream.

Mr. Greene’s books include “When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams.”

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