Stop following me, says Kanye's Twitter friend

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The Independent Online

When the rap superstar Kanye West decided to make Steven Holmes his first and only Twitter friend, the 19-year-old from Coventry was as gracious as you might expect a student unexpectedly befriended by an A-list celebrity to be.

"Holy shit, bro, thx for following!" was his initial response. But, after just 24 hours, Mr Holmes is already fed up with the fame and attention he has attracted by being the only person West has deigned to follow. Yesterday the teenager told his local newspaper, the Coventry Telegraph, that he regarded fame as "vacuous" and wished that the rapper had never decided to pick him out from the crowd. And, in a statement which may dent West's famously towering ego, Mr Holmes added that he was not a huge fan of the rapper's music, either.

The teenager was thrust into the limelight on Saturday night when West, who has more than 400,000 followers on the site, chose the Nottingham University media student as his only friend. Within hours, Mr Holmes's following had increased from 60 people to almost 4,000.

He was immediately inundated with scores of requests from journalists, as well as a number of jealous and angry comments from Kanye West fans irked that they were not, as the rapper described Mr Holmes, "the chosen one".

But the teenager, who has since removed his picture from the site, said he thought of fame as "vacuous" and added: "I just commented on something on Kanye West's account and next thing I know, he's following me.

"I was like, 'Oh my God!', but about 20 seconds later I had 20 messages from people I didn't know and my phone wouldn't stop bleeping.

"It's crazy. I'm getting messages from people I don't even know. A guy wanted me to have a look at his film trailer and people have been sending me links to their music demos – as if I have some sort of influence over Kanye West. The funny thing is, I like his music but I'm not his biggest fan.

"Fame is a vacuous thing and has never appealed to me. I think there's an obsession with celebrity culture. The thing is, I don't buy into that, but judging from a lot of the comments and messages I've had over the last few days, a lot of people do.

"I was bored of Facebook and I liked Twitter because it was simple and I could say whatever I wanted. Before this weekend I thought it would be cool to have a celebrity following me on Twitter but now I think it's really not worth it."

Following his interview with the local press, Mr Holmes posted a message on the site explaining that he would be saying nothing more on the matter. "This has been completely surreal and I really have no desire for this attention I'm just a normal person," he wrote. "I won't be speaking to anybody else, surprisingly not everyone wants to be famous. That's all I'm saying – peace out x".

How Kanye followed in famous footsteps

Before Kanye West had joined Twitter and before Steven Holmes of Coventry was making headlines, US talk show host Conan O'Brien propelled one young tweeter to stardom in a very similar way. "I've decided to follow someone at random. She likes peanut butter and gummy dinosaurs. Sarah Killen, your life is about to change," he tweeted in March.

And so it did. Mr O'Brien had chosen to follow the 19-year-old student above the rest of his million other adherents (he politely asked a member of his PR team to phone her first, to see if she'd mind). Like Mr Holmes, she was deluged with messages from other users in the hours after Mr O'Brien chose her.

Before his decision, she had three Twitter followers; afterwards, she had more than 10,000. But unlike Mr Holmes, Miss Killen – who was about to get married at the time of Mr O'Brien's tweet – embraced the life-changing fame suddenly thrust upon her.

"People are offering us stuff for our wedding, photographers and invitations, but I haven't accepted anything other than the computer," she told New York magazine. Sensing an opportunity use her fame for the powers of good, Miss Killen posted a link to a charity donation page, where she raised $1,100 (£690) towards her goal in just nine hours.

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