Last Call: What’s your online persona?

Marnie Shure
·2 min read
Hand holding phone with social media apps pulled up on screen
Hand holding phone with social media apps pulled up on screen

Dare I say that a promotion to win free beer has got me thinking all about the version of myself I project on the internet?

Here’s what happened: I got an email from Hop Valley. Hop Valley Brewing Company, based in Eugene, Oregon, is an IPA-focused brewer that’s been around for 12 years, and is getting ready to make its nationwide debut this year. Because Hop Valley prides itself on using a special brewing process to make its hops less bitter, it has found a clever, splashy way to advertise its rollout: the IBU-O-Meter.

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For those who don’t know, all beers have some measure of IBUs, or International Bitterness Units, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like. But Hop Valley’s IBU-O-Meter is measuring Internet Bitterness Units, or rather, how much bitterness each of us projects online. According to a press release emailed to The Takeout, once you provide your Twitter handle, the IBU-O-Meter will determine just how bitter you are on the internet and “help infuse some positive vibes into your scrolling” by presenting you with a voucher to redeem for free Hop Valley beer.

A quick note on how the IBU thing works:

In technical terms, by using a complex Machine Learning algorithm, we’re able to analyze the text found in your Tweets and detect the overall sentiment (positive, negative or neutral) based on a pre-trained set of historical data. The IBU-O-Meter then assigns a score (0-100) based on the ratio of positive and negative tweets total (maximum of 100).

I’m wondering, though, whether this Machine Learning can account for things like sarcasm, irony, and all of us meme-ing that Kim Kardashian island birthday party tweet. Will that determine we are more negative than we intend to be? Or is this machine hip to the vernacular of the Most Extremely Online among us?

Maybe for more earnest tweeters, this distinction doesn’t matter. But for others, an algorithm measuring human bitterness might be a beer promotion best left untested. How about you? What’s your whole internet vibe? Do you think a few free beers might help mellow it out?