Hacked in the Act of Fandom

Hacked in the Act of Fandom

A true fan’s unexpected social media connection with John Prine quickly devolves into a hilarious cavalcade of red flags.


For all the things I pooh-pooh about social media, I do love how it connects us to people we admire or find inspiring. Ordinarily, I don’t give two flips about celebrities (exceptions made for Rob Lowe, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper, of course), but people like to interact with them via social media. My husband is no exception. He recently dashed into the room to read an exciting Instagram notification: John Prine started following you!  

The news got better – his lifelong idol, singer-songwriter John Prine, was not only following him on Instagram, but had messaged him, too. John Prine wanted to be Insta buddies!

They began exchanging messages innocuously enough:

John Prine: Hello. How are you today?

Mr. Roth: Doing great! How are you? I’ve been a huge fan of yours for decades! Hope to make it to a show this year.

JP: I hope you come.

“John Prine wants us to try to make it to one of his shows!” Mr. Roth announced with a giddiness that reminded me of the thrill that might have washed over 10-year-old me if Tiger Beat had included a pull-out poster of Tony “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” DeFranco (who is still scorching hot, btw). “He’s just such a good human being,” Mr. Roth said. “I’m not surprised that he would just be friendly like that.”

Before long, JP amped up the friendly with messages that became more frequent, almost daily. (Red flag #1.) Mr. Roth could not have been happier. For John, however, Instagram was a hassle. To continue the deeper conversations he was apparently missing during his hectic touring schedule, he suggested that the discussion move to Google Hangouts. (Red flag #2.)

JP: How is your day going?

MR: It has been a great day.

JP: Do you have any pictures of you I can see? (Red flags #3-8.)

The questions became more specific.

JP: Where are you really from? Where are your both parents? Do you have brother or sister? (Attention, red flags #9-15 – you’re up.)

“What the … is he writing a song about your family?” I asked in disbelief.

Eventually, with a total disregard for punctuation or syntax, John Prine confided:

JP: I’m looking for someone I can definitely trust cause I have got some few things I need to do and take care of without my management knowing about it so I need one of my loyal fan [sic] to handle this for me (I’ve now wrapped myself in a red flag.)

MR: You bet.

JP: If you handle this for me, you will never regret it.

(Historical note: since the dawn of mankind, nothing good has ever followed the words, “You will never regret it.”)

JP: I got in touched [sic] by the security company where I have my brief case [sic] kept for a while which contains some huge amounts of money and some valuable documents that belongs  [sic] to me I am needing you to be able to take care of the delivery to your home, I want you to please be secretive concerning this.

Days pass with Mr. Roth now snubbing “John Prine,” who, instead of touring, has taken to blowing up Google Hangouts.

JP: Hi.

JP: Hello.

JP: What are you doing right now.

JP: Did you get my message about the Brief [sic] case?

JP: Are you still busy?

JP: Will you be able to help me?

JP: Please can i still hope on helping me out as i don’t have much time to waste

JP: Just hold on to the bag for a period of time

Mr. Roth resurfaces long enough to assure his idol that Operation Hold This Bag is on. John Prine, relieved, hastily asks for a meeting point (insert all the red flags) to deliver the bag. Mr. Roth complies, giving him an address and a final message:

MR: See you Thursday at 2!

What the Davidson County (Tennessee) sheriff did with the briefcase is anyone’s guess.