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The Twitter Index


Tracking the soaring stocks and junk bonds of social media, helping you to invest carefully and speculate wisely. (By Rhodri Marsden)

August 27th

Rising: Jamie Oliver's tongue

If you're famous, it's relatively easy to get yourself into the list of trending topics on Twitter. Do something outlandish or objectionable, sit back and wait for the tweets to snowball. Sure, you wouldn't want the vast majority of those tweets to be read out at your funeral, but all publicity is good publicity. As Miley Cyrus tweeted, gleefully, after her bizarre VMA awards performance had been observed by millions of disbelieving humans:

It doesn't matter that the vast majority of those tweets were asking why on earth she appeared from a door in the front of a giant bear while wearing bra and pants and with her tongue sticking out. She'll shift units, man. It's all that matters. Which brings us to Jamie Oliver, who's coincidentally aired some controversial views on the eating habits of poorer families in the UK just as his new TV series is about to air. Lucky timing.

There are innumerable reasons to find Jamie Oliver irritating, not least his ability to criticise our eating habits while pocketing corporate dollar for advertising food you could describe as unwholesome. Or the liner notes for this compilation album of shit songs to play while you're cooking. Or advocating the preparation of food from scratch while using pre-made sauces in his Glasgow restaurant that were made on an industrial estate 400 miles away in Bicester. But one thing seems to annoy people about Jamie Oliver more than anything else, and that's his lisp.

And this kind of thing bugs me beyond belief. There's someone on telly you don't like, a whole heap of sound reasons to give them a verbal kicking, but you choose to highlight their inability to pronounce sibilants.

It's not as if it's his fault. I mean, I suppose he could conceivably have undertaken speech therapy classes or had a series of operations on his mouth, but the BASTARD DIDN'T SEE FIT TO DO IT, DID HE.

Now, I probably wouldn't choose the sound of someone lisping their way through a salsa recipe as one of my Desert Island Discs, but I'd probably stop short of advising them to cut their tongue out and feed it to the needy.

The same thing happens whenever Lembit Opik behaves like an arse, which is frequently. You have at your disposal a sumptuous range of reasons for disliking the guy, but you point out that he's got a wonky mouth. Oh, and look, Jamie's got a big tongue.

The odd thing about all this is that Twitter (or at least the version of Twitter I read) is rigorously policed by people who pull up others for their sexist, racist or ableist language, and yet tweets about Jamie Oliver's massive tongue just seem to drift up the timeline unquestioned. Celebrated, even.

So I thought I'd just strike a small blow against lispism. Job done. But I make no apology for Jamie Oliver's lamb curry song.


August 23rd

Rising: Matt Damon could be Robin

The widely-reported news that Ben Affleck has been cast as Batman caused thousands of people to helpfully mention on Twitter that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman, and mostly to express displeasure, because if there's one thing adults demand in the 21st century it's authentic portrayal of a man pretending to be a bat. Bookmaker William Hill immediately offered odds of 1/4 that the film will be the highest grossing film of 2015, and 5/2 that Affleck is replaced as Batman for any sequel, and then sent out a press release saying as much, hoping that people like me would report these odds in the media, which I've now dutifully done, and as a result I feel a bit hollow and empty inside.

Almost eclipsing the Affleck / Batman news was the initially mildly amusing suggestion that Matt Damon should be cast as Robin. I've just spent about 20 minutes scrolling back through Twitter to find out who first made this pithyish observation, but I only got back about 4 hours in the timeline, by which time an additional 570 people had suggested that Matt Damon might play Robin. But this gives us the perfect opportunity to reflect upon a truly multinational gag. It's now been made in Mexico, Sweden, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia:

Indonesia, Finland, Spain, France, Sweden:

The Phillipines, The Netherlands, Germany, USA, Turkey,

The United Kingdom, Hungary, Brazil, Norway, Israel and many more.

William Hill's current odds on Matt Damon being cast as Robin are 25/1.


August 21st

Rising: Symptoms

You'll be familiar with cyberchondria, that impulse that forces you, against your better judgement, to Google your health symptoms, diagnose yourself with meningitis and spend the rest of the day paralysed with fear of imminent death. Well, the same thing exists on social media – except instead of your fears being ratcheted up by a search engine algorithm, there are people on hand to do that for you.

When you post your symptoms on Twitter, you do so in the hope that a load of people will reassure you that it's nothing, that you have nothing whatsoever to worry about.

Although occasionally it's just an attempt to get sympathy:

Anyway, the point is that One Direction's Harry Styles, for all his undisputed talent as a perfectly-toothed pop moppet, has no medical qualifications to speak of. He can't help. And nor can most people on Twitter. The best you can hope for is solidarity:

The worst you can expect is ridicule:

But there's only one piece of advice worth following:



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