PETERSON’S TAKE: Being the Other Jon Jones, Part 1


Jon Jones (photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today Sports)

If you aren’t following Jon Jones on Twitter, you’re missing out.  Not Jon “Bones” Jones, UFC champion, but Jon Jones, video game developer from Brooklyn.  Ever since Bones has starting getting himself into sticky situations, the other Jon Jones has found himself swamped online with messages from people who don’t check the profile picture.

Jones could not be more opposite than Bones.  He’s Caucasian, with purple hair and a mustache that I find myself quite jealous of.  The majority of his Twitter feed is clever/humorous responses to Bones fans that message Jones by accident.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Jones and this is how it went.

Matthew Peterson:  How’s everything going?  I see you’re going to have a big week coming up here.

Jon Jones:  I’m anticipating one, it just depends on if Bones chooses to open his mouth or not.  It’s weird, I’m almost at a media advantage by being the only Jon Jones being willing to speak on the record.

MP:  Just to start us off, can you give us a brief snippet of who you are and a little about you.

JJ:  Sure, you want the me me or the me people think I am?  I’m a game developer and I work in the tech industry.  I live in Brooklyn, New York and I’ve been in games for 16 years.  Used to be an artist, now I run and build art teams and help train product managers.  That’s what I do professionally and my only hobby currently is, or at least lately, is responding to tweets from people who think I’m Bones Jones.

MP:  And posting perfect pictures of cats, that has to be noted.

JJ:  (laughs) Thank you very much, I am a fan of cats.  I have three cats, all rescues, and love them to bits.  I’m actually rubbing one’s belly right now.

MP:  Now were you on Twitter before Bones Jones started having his variety of incidents?

JJ:  Oh yeah, I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 and I think I didn’t get my first tweet to him until 2010-2011.

MP:  So you were ahead of the game then?

JJ:  Exactly.  And I’m also three years older.

MP:  Which incident would you say was your biggest day on Twitter with the most traffic?

JJ:  Without a doubt, August 23rd when he tested positive for Turinabol.  I didn’t know the word Turinabol before that day, but now I can spell it correctly and I shouldn’t even know it exists!  That week was insane.  The entire week of UFC 214, I got maybe 2-3 million views on my Twitter.  The week of him failing the test, I got maybe 40 million views.  I got 8,000 new followers literally overnight.  SportsCenter invited me on knowing who I am, just to talk about the whole Twitter confusion thing.  I can only imagine how differently all of this would have gone if I had just decided not to respond to every single idiot telling me to die.

MP:  Oh, for sure.  You probably never, in your life, thought you’d grow up and be invited onto SportsCenter.  What was that like?

JJ:  That was possibly the most surreal moment of my life.  I would put that right up there with when I was actually at UFC 135 when Bones fought Rampage.  I was visiting a friend of mine in Denver and he had an extra ticket.  I thought, what the hell, why not?  20,000 people chanting my name is about equal to finding myself on SportsCenter.  (laughs)  I don’t like sports, I’m not into them.  I don’t begrudge people that like them, I just have a weirdly nonconsensual relationship with sports fans.

MP:  I’ll ask, have you ever thrown a punch?  In anger, in sports, ever thrown a punch at all?

JJ:  Oh yeah.  When I was young, my shower door wasn’t closing correct and I got pissed off at it and shattered the glass with a punch.  I used to be a bit of an angry younger man, definitely put some holes in walls and broke most of my fingers.

MP:  This is one of, now we can say, many incidents that Bones has been in.  You said this was the biggest by far, what about the hit and run incident or the UFC 151 fiasco?

JJ:  Those are all very interesting atrocities.  I pick up a new name or insult every time.  It goes from looter, cheater, fake, bad Christian, junkie, drug head, juicer, criminal, felon, woman abuser, drunk driver.  Those are the mildly printable ones.  The interesting thing I noticed was, people were much angrier about UFC 151 being cancelled than they were about Bones hitting that woman in his car and running away.

MP:  That was going to be my next question.  As an MMA fan, at the time I thought UFC 151 being cancelled would be the worst thing Bones ever did.

JJ:  (laughing)  I think that to myself every time.

MP:  Does it shock you how strongly people feel about a sports figure, not someone they know personally or someone they’ve ever met?

JJ:  It is absolutely baffling.  I’ve never really understood sports, like I grew up super sheltered and I was never really a part of that.  I never understood the fascination and it never really clicked with me.  Now it’s strange that there are people will sit down and take the time to fit an insult or a death threat, something about my wife or my dad or my mom, into 140 characters and send it to a satellite and then back down to someone’s computer for them to read without ever taking the time to make sure they’re addressing it correctly.  It’s this amazing mix of incredibly excitement and anger and not being patient and understanding how the internet works.

MP:  I know that you’ve said in your tweets, you’re not an MMA fan.  Have you gone out to learn about the man who shares your name?

JJ:  Not really.  I decided early on that it would completely ruin my bit to educate myself on the sport and try to get all punditry on it.  It is much more personally amusing to have everything I know about the sport yelled at me by angry people that think I’m somebody else.  It’s a hilarious way to learn about anything.  Sometimes I’ve deliberately chosen to be content with that being my way to learn.

MP:  What’s your opinion on someone who has that much natural talent and athleticism but can’t seem to keep tripping over their own feet?

JJ:  It’s so damn sad.  He needs better friends, he needs to fire the people around him who are crappy and are leading him down a bad path.  He needs to listen to the people that actually love him and be willing to have people who tell him no.  He became famous so early and so young and there’s instantly a profit motive to be hanging around him and telling him to do stuff.  There’s a whole industry built off of tracking his success and failures.  Frankly, failures make much better press and are a hell of a lot juicier.  Everyone around him has some kind of financial or fame based stake in him going down and they’re just riding him down until they find the next person to jump onto.  It’s like he’s a vehicle for all these peoples’ worst impulses and he’s sort of living them out and they’re all enabling him.  He’s never known what it’s like to be normal and that’s tragic.

MP:  How do the majority of Twitter users respond when you try to make them realize they’re talking to the wrong Jon Jones?

JJ:  I’d say about half of people don’t even respond or will delete their tweets.  Maybe 1 in 50 will block me out of spite.  The way I try to diffuse people is that if people say something stupid, I try to find a funny/self-deprecating way to agree with them as a surprise.  Generally, that helps find a way for us both to laugh together at what a silly thing that is.  I love watching anger dissipate into a way to laugh while they understand I’m not making them feel bad.  That’s my ideal goal out of all of that, if I can make an angry person laugh and totally disarm them, that’s great.  That’s literally my favorite thing.

JJ:  Some people do double down though; they get even more mad somehow.  Some people tell me I should give up my Twitter handle and give it to the real Jon Jones.  I tell them that I had the name first, it’s my real name.  It’s not a parody account, I’ve always used this, why should I give a handout to a spoiled millionaire?  For some reason, they never answer that.  That’s usually when they block me.


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