When Ashton Kutcher told me to text him, I did. Last week, he tweeted the innocuous yet intriguing: "For truth text me," followed by a phone number beginning with the area code 319, which a quick Google search told me belonged to Iowa City. Of one thing I was certain: Ashton was, to an extent I could not yet know, punking me. But I texted him anyway.
My "Hey Ashton what's up" was met instantaneously with a link to a website called Community.com and the following autotext, apparently from Ashton himself: "Ashton here. This is an autotext to let you know I got your message, the rest will be from me. Click the link so I can respond to you. I likely can't respond to everything but I'll try to be in touch. Dream bigger."
Despite my knowledge that this was, in fact, a ruse I should not fall for, in the name of celebrity gossip and Ashton's directive to dream bigger, I did it, on the off chance I might learn Ashton's side of the drama unearthed in his ex Demi Moore's new memoir. (Kutcher's open Twitter invitation to text him came only minutes after he subtweeted his ex-wife and alluded to snark he could have shared in response to her cheating allegations. So... the implication was that there was tea to be spilled. And I didn't mind if my shirt got stained.
Unfortunately, I learned no tea, as evidenced by the pictured text exchange. Except now, my cell number is on a list on a website called Community, and now I have a contact in my phone named Ashton Kutcher that came auto-populated with a black-and-white headshot of Ashton for the contact photo.
Kutcher is no stranger to tweeting out his digits. He tweeted the same number for the first time in January, citing a desire for "real connection w/ real people," as well as in July with the decree: "Just text me it's easier." Each time, fans were led to the same familiar Community link. Community's website describes the platform as a place that "enables direct, meaningful communication between community leaders and their community members." So in essence, it's like a mailing list over text message, where celebrities can access and communicate with their fanbases through SMS instead of email. And Kutcher has skin in the game — he and his venture capital partner Guy Oseary apparently helped launch Community in 2018.
Since Kutcher, tons of other celebs have jumped on the bandwagon, including Jennifer Lopez and Kerry Washington. Lopez recently used the tool in promotion of her new film Hustlers, and Washington encouraged fans to text her with questions for her to ask Gwyneth Paltrow on Paltrow's Goop podcast. I texted her to no avail — it appears I missed the short window of time where she was taking questions.
Yesterday, Diddy entered the Community universe with the simple tweet: "Hey. Text me." In response to a fan who sent him the incredulous, "This can't be Diddy," Diddy replied with the most iconic response he could have possibly send. And there's proof that it was, in fact, he who wielded the proverbial pen.
As depicted in this video shared to Twitter, he dictated into his phone the following to said fan: "This is Diddy, this is me. You know, a.k.a Love. I hope you're having a beautiful day. Stay tuned, I'm gonna be sending you a lot of special content to inspire you, to uplift you. I'm gonna be sending you information that the government doesn't want you to know. I'm gonna start leaking government files that we need to know as a people. Okay? Stay tuned."
Whether Diddy was joking about the government stuff is unclear — his countenance in the video betrays no trace of laughter. But at least let this be confirmation that sometimes on the other end of the Community number it isn't just a chatbot — sometimes, there's an actual celebrity standing in their master bathroom talking into their phone.