The man behind the wildly viral 'Free Luas' campaign says he just "thought it was funny"
"If I think something is even 5% funny I’ll probably tweet it, and from that point onwards it’s kind of up to everyone else how far it goes."
If you are an avid or even occasional visitor to social media, you may well have noticed that the slogan 'Free Luas' has been trending on Twitter in recent days.
You may or may not know that the reason it is trending is because of a tweet posted by Carl Kinsella, formerly of this parish, on Thursday claiming that the transport service is "free" of charge, a tweet that has prompted a quite incredible response since.
"A long-term goal of mine has been to lead a disinformation campaign which claims that the Luas is free until enough people believe it that they have no choice but to give in and make the Luas is free," Kinsella posted.
A long-term goal of mine has been to lead a disinformation campaign which claims that the Luas is free until enough people believe it that they have no choice but to give in and make the Luas is free. So if anyone ever asks you, remember: the Luas is free.
— Carl Kinsella (@TVsCarlKinsella) August 5, 2021
He added: "So if anyone ever asks you, remember: the Luas is free."
It didn't take long for people throughout the country to join in and, before long, #FreeLuas was trending on the platform.
So lucky to have such a great free service in Dublin with the Luas 🥰 pic.twitter.com/1o4zRTHrJE
— Hugh Carr (@hughcarrhere) August 7, 2021
— Dara Ó Briain (@daraobriain) August 7, 2021
However, it seems the so-called "disinformation campaign" may not have been as strategic as it appeared, or as some may think.
Speaking to JOE, Carl said that the tweet had actually been less like a "long-term goal" and more of a momentary funny thought, adding that he never anticipated the impact the tweet would have.
We asked the man behind 'Free Luas' about memes, reactions, Dublin Airport, and everything else you would want to know about the campaign.
What inspired you to post the initial tweet in the first place?
"It wasn’t really designed to do anything more than amuse some people on social media. I’d be lying if I said there was anything close to actual inspiration behind it. It was just something that occurred to me and I thought it was funny."
Have you been surprised by the response?
"It probably goes without saying, but I didn’t actually intend for it to catch on the way that it did — there’s no real way for something like that to go viral on purpose, it’s entirely dependent on what people make of it. I wasn’t expecting too much of a response at all."
Now that the campaign has taken off, would you hope to see actual change come about as a result?
"I definitely don’t think there will be any change as a result. As far as what I’d hope for public services in Ireland, I think they should be more accessible - there should be rail routes and tramlines all over the place and they should be accessible to the point of being free, but I don’t think that I have played even a minuscule role in bringing that closer to being a reality.
"I think there would need to be a cataclysmic shift in the way Ireland is run, and the people who run it, for anything of the sort to happen. Public transport needs to be incentivised and driving down prices would seem like an obvious place to start."
What has been your favourite reaction so far?
"The Free Willy/Free Luas poster is so funny. I also liked that Dublin Airport somehow got involved? Sort of takes the heat off me. Blame the airport."
Luas is the Irish word for free. pic.twitter.com/oDDb8PAjmz
— Dublin Airport (@DublinAirport) August 7, 2021
At what point did you realise it had became way bigger than anticipated?
"At some point on Saturday a few people started texting me to say that their friends had actually mentioned it to them in real life. It takes a lot for something to go from social media to real life, so that was probably the moment."
Have you seen any negative reactions to it or from it?
"Yeah, but that’s pretty much par for the course when so many people interact with something. If a joke gets done to death or ends up all over somebody’s timeline I think it’s pretty understandable that they won’t like it. I mean, I’m sure loads of people don’t like it for all sorts of reasons. They’re probably right too. At the end of the day, it’s probably not a great thing that something I’ve thought about for all of five seconds ends up reaching loads of people."
Do you think there has been a downside to the trend, or has it been primarily positive?
"I think anything that goes viral, because of the nature of going viral, carries the risk of so many downsides, because you’ve introduced something that now anybody at all can use in whatever way they like. As for whether it’s primarily positive, that is for other people to decide, I hope that for the most part people have found it funny and that it’s been enjoyed in the spirit it was meant."
Would you ever consider doing it again?
"It’s hard to say. If I think something is even 5% funny I’ll probably tweet it, and from that point onwards it’s kind of up to everyone else how far it goes. I think I’ll probably not use the actual phrase 'disinformation' again though.
"People have had some suggestions for me though, and one I particularly like is to pressure the government into building a habitat for Wally the Walrus. But I’m not a walrus expert and I’m not sure if that would actually be good for the walrus. He probably just wants to go home. Or maybe he just wants to sleep on boats, I can’t speak to the mindset of a walrus."
Finally, the question everyone wants answered, have you ever used the Luas for free?
"Sorry, this is my stop."
In response to questioning about the tweets, a Transdev spokesperson told JOE on Monday: "A valid ticket, validated Leap Card, or valid Public Services Card with Free Travel is required to travel on Luas."
The spokesperson added that customers who fail to provide tickets will have to pay a fine of €100.
"Customers found travelling without a ticket will be issued a Standard Fare Notice for €100. "
Main image via Sam Boal/©RollingNews.ie