Last week, Jon Jones released a humorous PSA video, but many of you likely didn’t see it, as it wasn’t that Jon Jones. It was instead the affable, purple-haired video game developer who just happens to have the Twitter handle @JonJones. Many of you have interacted with him, gotten to know him and maybe, like me, you follow him. He’s a pretty funny guy, but he’s taken a metric ton of trolling and harassment over the years from angry UFC fans that have an internet bone to pick with the former light heavyweight champion—also named Jon Jones (not to be confused with Martian D.E.O chief J’onn J’onzz).
Let’s take a look at last week’s PSA video (Know whom you’re tweeting at!)
“Death threats and dick pills don’t work on me.”
After watching the PSA, Jon and I chatted and he kindly agreed to give me a fresh video where he, in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s famous “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets,” very graciously read some of the absolutely bonkers tweets he receives. He also gave us a special bonus of some really wild interactions he’s had with Jonny Bones’ stans, haters and stalkers.
Jon Jones Reads Troll Tweets (Bloody Elbow readers are seeing this first)
“U shud be in jail for attempted murder cuz roids are a weapon.”
Now, we get the good stuff, tales of the wild and weird:
Stephie Haynes asks: What are the wildest and weirdest interactions you've had with some of Bones' crazy stans, haters or stalkers?
“There have been quite a few fun ones! I actually get some of them via email or through my website in addition to Twitter. Some highlights:
Fly-fishing and touching children!
A pastor contacted me about what a big fan he was of me, of touching children, and he wanted to invite me to go out deep in the woods with him for fly-fishing so we can talk about how we can touch more children together. I grew up in that religious world and I know what he MEANT, but he was completely oblivious to how terrible the phrasing was.
Intellectual property violation!
One guy sent me a series of angry DMs after Bones got popped for steroids after UFC 214. I pointed out that I'm not that guy, and instead of reacting literally any other way, he demanded I give up my username for free to a multi-millionaire athlete, and accused me of legally violating Bones's intellectual property by using my real name on Twitter. It's by far the stupidest reaction anyone has had when they realize they were tweeting nonsense to the wrong person entirely.
Take my wife, please!
Years ago I was contacted by a man living in Pittsburgh whose wife is "in love with" me and wanted to see me "up close and personal." Basically, this guy's trying to get me to bang his wife. Not exactly my thing, but hey, who am I to judge? Let them do them... and whoever else they tag in, I suppose.
Over time, I've developed a strategy of sorts for dealing with the insane amount of Twitter attention I get. The first time this insane flood of illiterate, angry garbage people turned my mentions into a cesspool, I was initially overwhelmed, but then thought it would be funny to reply to every single tweet I received to see what happened. After years of winging it and seeing what people like and don't like, I've developed two distinct approaches:
1) Find a silly and self-deprecating way to agree with them.
Example: "Yessir, I'm a world-class coward for sure!" and "Wait, what do you mean I better make weight? I just put a tray of brownies in the oven!" and the like.
2) They want a reaction, so I simply pretend they're being friendly, then cheerfully but charitably misinterpret everything they say. :)
Example: "Cokehead? I don't know where you got that idea. I'm more of a Pepsi guy, really." Also see attached "cheerful-misinterpret.png"
Basically, I'm trying to emphasize what a cowardly, pudgy, cat-loving little beta male I am in comparison to Bones the fighter. The whiplash from that disconnect is hilarious to watch.
"Wait, why is Bones talking to me about Call of Duty and fuzzy cat feet?"
My absolute favorite achievement is when I can compel an angry person to chill out and laugh along with me. They expended so much energy and anger on completely the wrong person, but instead of getting mad, their target is actually joking and being playful. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it's disarming, and it's terrific when it happens. I've made a lot of friends out of this, in fact!
And you know what? For some reason, it never occurred to me to ignore them. Imitating Bones was never an option, primarily because I'd no longer be an innocent bystander and it would sour my bit, but also because that would probably get my Twitter account suspended. I'm fanatically careful about not crossing that line, and I'm very quiet about that aspect of this. I unwittingly developed a comic character with rules, organically over time, so that's the rulebook I've been playing by.
This last time Bones was in the news was the biggest and craziest it's ever been. First off, Bones's big comeback to the UFC was on July 29th, my birthday, so the entire day my timeline was overflowing with "YOU'RE GONNA ROCK IT, CHAMP!" and "FUCKING KILL YOURSELF, JUNKIE LOSER!" All in all, pretty similar to most of my birthdays.
It was absolute nonstop crazyballs insanity. He got stripped and got popped for PEDs, and boy, the internet sure let me know how the hell they felt about that. When the crazy goes down I take time off of work and focus completely on responding, so I had about three days straight of replying to people on Twitter.
I got 8,000 new followers overnight (more than doubling my previous) and over 40 million views on my timeline in the span of five days. I got covered in USA Today, CBS, BBC, and was even invited to be on ESPN SportsCenter live, which was mindblowing. Ever since it happened, I've been getting recognized in public in NYC and Montreal and been asked to pose for pictures. This happens weekly. I even got stopped by a TSA agent at the airport who recognized me.
The week after his belt was taken, I traveled to Vancouver and visited Electronic Arts for work. They develop most major sports games, including UFC, so I was immediately recognized by the UFC game dev. team. They graciously gave me a tour of the studio, their motion capture facility, and even introduced me to Corey Anderson, who's an active UFC fighter who actually knew who I was! Really cool guy, and I was happy to have met him.
It's been hilarious and weird and overwhelming, and I've barely lost any Twitter followers, which is unusual. I've even gained at least 30 - 40 professional athletes that follow me and know I'm me, which is awkward because I'm totally not a sports guy. But man, after five years of doing this, in one week I seem to have solidified whatever the hell you'd call this highly circumstantial minor internet fame. At this point, I think I'm right alongside the squirrel that can ride a jet ski. I started my Twitter account to be about video game development, but now it's completely something else, and now that I've made peace with it, that's cool by me.”
Many thanks to the nicest Jon Jones around for sharing his stories and positivity with our readers. We certainly look forward to the next installment, as his UFC name doppleganger will find himself in the headlines again when USADA determines his punishment for his latest test failure. Until then, give this mild-mannered, ultra-chill cat a follow and send him a nice tweet.