Last night, the person in charge of the official San Francisco BART Twitter account lost it. In 57 tweets, the account espoused truth and honesty, and pretty much admitted what everyone in the Bay Area already knows: the crumbling institution kinda sucks.
Now, running social media accounts for well-known public entities, be they people, organizations, or things, is difficult and often miserable. But when that entity is an oft-maligned public transportation system, the task becomes even harder, because pretty much everyone openly hates the very thing you’re supposed to defend.
Perhaps in response to this, the BART-er went rogue and dropped knowledge. It started off innocuously enough:
...and then the replies started rolling in.
But instead of ignoring or placating @shakatron, the person or persons running the BART account decided to do things differently:
“This is our reality.” Have you ever heard any government body speak with such resigned honesty before?
The account dismissed any accusations of a meltdown, even though, by normal operating standards, it sort of was:
“We’ll find a way.” Optimism, or existential despair?
“This is our reality” appeared again, but in hashtag form!
On one hand, whoever spent their night responding to random people on the internet with this much honesty deserves a pat on the back. They likely don’t have a real hand in the inner workings of the system, and yet they’re the system’s public representative. That’s not easy, and they did it without completely losing their shit.
On the other hand, as many were quick to point out, the BART infrastructure can be a never-ending nightmare for commuters—crumbling tracks, massive delays, fires, a police force known for violence, budget woes, bedbugs, literal shitstorms—and a few pithy tweets don’t do much to fix that. It’s better than nothing, but most commuters would probably rather see some actual improvements instead. (But hey, at least it’s not the DC Metro!)
Then again, given the amount of praise the account received in response to this honesty, maybe “going rogue” was the plan all along. They also took pretty much every opportunity to emphasize the system’s commitment to fixing shit, which is the oldest public relations strategy in the book. At least they admitted there’s a lot of stuff wrong, though!
As for the mysterious person behind the tweets, it appears that BART’s account is normally run by a few people, one of whom lists “professional apologist for America’s crumbling infrastructure” in his Twitter profile. Yeah, we’re going to assume it was that guy.
Update: We were right! It was that guy!
Seriously, though, someone should really buy him a drink.