911? Yes my emergency is the City of Kents Twitter account.
"911? Yes my emergency is the City of Kent's Twitter account." Courtesy of Twitter
Last week, the City of Kent's Twitter account took a turn. Instead of posting updates about events or earnest retweets of citizens expressing their love for the city, the account decided to get confrontational, clapping back at a semi-viral tweet:

Too ambitious to be just a one-off clapback, the account got increasingly spicy, in a sort of out-of-pocket kind of way:

This new attitude has blossomed over the past week, culminating in this outrageous tweet that I was sent over Slack with the message "city of kent! not playing!":

Ha! Um! What?! I've repeatedly reached out for comment and have not heard back. I will update this post if I do.

May 12 seems to be when the City of Kent Twitter account pivoted into snarky self-awareness. In honor of National Police Week, the account shared a screenshot of the mayor's (satirical?) Facebook post calling for a cancellation of all crime to protect the police force from coronavirus, imploring those who commit crimes to "seek actual employment" and become a "functioning member of society."

Then, after dragging a random person for their "soulmate" tweet, the City of Kent's Twitter account began engaging in a wide variety of antics, from endlessly retweeting random Twitter users either shocked or delighted by the account's radical change to starting beef with the neighboring city of Tukwila's account. Kent's timeline now reads like a spirited (yet cringy) extended family member's page.

Sure, a non-sentient city with a population of almost 130,000 having a riotous Twitter account is amusing. It also reminds me of the conversations we have about Taco Bell, Arby's, and Wendy's when they tweet like horny and socially competent 20-year-olds to make you forget they're actually just selling you mystery beef.

"Brand humanization 'works' now in part because people feel disconnected and disheartened after scrolling through the daily chaos," wrote Nathan Allebach, the person behind the unhinged Steak-umm Twitter account, in Vulture. "When a brand is entertaining or relatable, it opens the door to parasocial relationships, a.k.a. people viewing media personalities as friends."

This seems to be the tactic embraced by the City of Kent. The veil was briefly lowered on Friday when the person behind the account tweeted out that they turned down media interview requests because "this is about our great city—not about me," insisting that it's time for governments to "meet our communities where they are at, engage with them, hear from them and serve them. This is one of the tools I use to get your attention and then serve you." Then they requested nuggets.

Kent's humor often has a more libertarian, cop-loving, Gen X sensibility. "Do they deliver?" the city tweeted in response to a KING 5 story about a Hong Kong shop serving "tear gas" ice cream, leading, naturally, to the question: does the City of Kent want to spoon feed tear gas to its citizens? Or—in one of the only instances of the account retweeting a city council member during this tonal transition—displaying a resistance to raising taxes.

The tactics seem to be working for the city. The account apparently gained 3,500 new followers over four days.

I just hope they learn how to put it to good use.