It's Charlie Sheen's Web, we're all just followers

As Charliemania takes over Google, Twitter, and all other forms of communication, Cringely wonders if real news still exists

Like art, the Internet holds a mirror up to our culture. And today what we see reflected back is a haggard, insane, middle-aged, drugged- and sexed-out sitcom star who makes Keith Richards look like Justin Bieber.

It's been All Charlie Sheen, All the Time on radio and TV this week, and that can't help but bleed over onto the Net.

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When I awoke this morning, Google Trends had Charlie Sheen's interview with ABC's "20/20" at number one, and various related topics (his ex Brooke Mueller, the "goddesses" with whom Sheen apparently shares domestic bliss, and so on) followed close behind.

(Other trending topics: Dr. Seuss and the Apple iPad announcement. But there is no truth to the rumor that Apple has hired Sheen to pitch the iPad 2 at the residents of Whoville, no matter what you might have read.)

As I write this, one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter is #tigerblood, which is riffing off Sheen's "Today Show" quote: "I've got tiger blood, Adonis DNA, and I'm tired of pretending I'm not special." Even the Red Cross's Twitter account is piggybacking on that one. ("We may not collect #tigerblood, but we know our donors & volunteers have fierce passion for doing good!")

Well, fasten your seatbelts, because it's about to get worse.

Last night Sheen created his own verified Twitter feed, which has gathered more than 800,000 followers in less than 24 hours. That's not to be confused with the parody accounts @ChuckSheen and @CharIieSheen. Really, I pity anyone who's trying to mock the man. You just can't compete with reality.

Sheen's first tweet? A photo of himself and "goddess" Bree Olsen holding bottles of chocolate milk and pineapple juice with the caption "Choose your vice."

Since then, he's posted a photo of his watch and invited rapper P-Diddy Combs to come over to party. Just taking a wild guess that he'll be serving more than chocolate milk and pineapple juice.

Now bloggers are parsing the two dozen or so people Charlie himself is following -- sports stars (Floyd Merriweather, Nick Swisher, Brian Wilson), rock stars (Fred Durst, P-Diddy), fellow celebs (Alyssa Milano, Sarah Silverman) and strangely, Hitechmommy blogger Cat Schwartz. No, I am not among them. Can't really say I'm envious.

It's fascinating to watch this unfold, the way watching a building burn to the ground is fascinating (so long as nobody gets hurt). But this will not end well. In either case, they'll both leave nothing but ashes.

In other news: Libya is in the throes of a bloody civil war, our government has just barely avoided shutting down (again), and oh yeah -- Apple is unveiling the second coming of the iPad. You may not have noticed. I barely did.

Got any real news? Share it with the world below or me directly: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "It's Charlie Sheen's Web, we're all just followers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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