Here at Jalopnik, we believe car enthusiasm is for everyone, so I can unashamedly admit how much I loved learning “Fiat 500 Twitter” exists. When I heard a Fiat 500 fan wrote her university dissertation on the car subculture, I slid on my cutest heart-shaped reading glasses and got ready to hit the books.
Fiat 500 Twitter isn’t really about Fiat 500s. It’s... a lifestyle. Or at least, it’s a social media subculture that seems to be mainly made up of early 20-something women in the UK who unabashedly pepper their tweets with emojis, complain about how imperfect their 20ish perfect faces and bodies are and tweet about how much they want a drink, a night out and “a Chinese” or “a Macdonald.”
The good old Urban Dictionary links it with “basic,” but surely, Beth Houghton’s academic analysis on the subject goes deeper.
It vaguely reminds me of Japan’s kawaii subculture, where cuteness rules. But it’s not wine or going to the salon that binds them together. It’s a car that defines them. University of Birmingham English student Beth Houghton thought Fiat 500 Twitter deserved a deeper look as well. She blew up her social media feed last week by admitting she had been collecting tweets from the subculture for her university dissertation.
By going through results for #Fiat500 she was able to crunch down the data on how these women are different than the boring, non-Fiat based social media platform. The Tab caught up with Houghton who talked about her two Fiat 500s and her methodology:
When she was first collecting her data, she explained that she couldn’t see much difference in the tweets from general Twitter, although she admits this was probably “because my timeline is made up of mostly Fiat 500 tweets.”
But who can blame a girl – as Beth says herself, “sometimes you do just really need a Chinese and a pink gin x”
However, eventually, Beth did find some differences, “such as over 70% of the whole corpus featured the word ‘boyfriend’ in their tweets!!” She also mentioned their “constant need to list things, for example ‘I need a boob job, lip filler, nails, extensions, fake tan, veneers: then I’ll be happy’.”
Do such tweets seem a little surface and shallow? Sure. You could say that, but peppered in there are women who are passionate about something other people might not be, and I respect that. After all, we love cute, low-powered, less-popular cars here on Jalopnik as well. Now, as well as throughout history, what young women become passionate about is often written off as pointless or shallow, but they are the tastemakers in a way. Where would The Beatles be without the rabid fandom of young women?
Fiat 500s probably weren’t ever going to be respected here in the U.S., a country that craves cars so big they’re unable to fit our garages. We do not value cute, and that’s our misfortune. Fiat 500s also aren’t terribly powerful (unless you’ve got a ludicrously fun Abarth) or groundbreaking, they can’t go overlanding or do donuts, but the cars are perfect for what its owners want: something small, customizable, affordable and, maybe most of all, adorable.