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Local professor beats SyFy Network to catchy title

Nicole Belmont

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“A tornado full of sharks” is the basic plot line of the SyFy network’s latest made for TV movie; it is also the biography description of Chicago-based English professor Elizabeth Wylder’s Twitter account.

In January 2009, Wylder joined the Twitterverse and chose the Twitter handle @Sharknado.

“Seven or eight years ago, somebody posted a series of mock book covers online for the Choose Your Own Adventure book series that was popular in the ’80s, those young adult books where you make decisions like, ‘Your boat is attacked by a homicidal space whale. If you shoot it with your laser gun, turn to page 32. If you try to ride it to shore, turn to page 86.’ One of those mock covers was for Sharknado! I thought it was super funny, and it stuck with me,” Wylder said.

Ahead of the curve, Wylder chose a Twitter handle that would also eventually share a title with recently released SyFy film, “Sharknado.”

“Of course, nobody told me not to choose a handle that could potentially be a SyFy movie four years later,” Wylder said. “If they had, I would’ve asked them how they could see the future and then placed a few bets on the Sox.”

According to SocialGuide, a program that analyzes social media activity around TV, 318,232 Tweets were about #sharknado July 11, the night the movie premiered on TV. Understandably, Wylder’s Twitter account received some misplaced attention as well.

“I’ve received over 600 misplaced tweets so far,” Wylder said.

Wylder was also accidentally Tweeted by the film’s star, Tara Reid, twice and followed by Barack Obama’s certified Twitter account.

In addition to working in the English departments at Malcolm X College and Daley College, Wylder also has a poetry collection published titled “Antarctica is For Sleepers” and writes and produces shows for sketch comedy group “Sober Ben” out of Second City. Wylder is able to find the humor in the increased social media attention.

“One of my favorites was from @schmerbert16 who asked: ‘What Instagram filter did you use to film your movie?’ Hudson, of course,” Wylder said.

A week after the release of “Sharknado,” SyFy announced a new Twitter campaign to let the audience play an active role in the process of naming the sequel film. “Sharknado 2″ is expected to be released in 2014.

“Like most people, I’ve been interested in social media and its potential for a long time,” Wylder said. “As a teacher, I’m always looking for ways to integrate it into the classroom.”

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Local professor beats SyFy Network to catchy title