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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)

October 9th, 2013

Falling: Fathers quitting smoking

There are many honourable ways to get your tweets retweeted. You could post something funny:

Make a wistful observation about life online:

Be Harry Styles and say "All my stuff and things":

But there's something unseemly about begging, and something even more unseemly about emotional blackmail – particularly emotional blackmail that doesn't work. I hereby present "If you retweet this my dad will stop smoking", which is the new "any sudden moves and the bunny rabbit gets it".

(2,811 retweets short of target.)

(996 retweets short of target.)

(Not even imaginative enough to specify a target.)

I think it's safe to say that no father has ever stopped smoking because of a half-arsed social media campaign initiated by one of his offspring that's got more to do with racking up retweets in the vain hope of achieving self-validation than an attempt at lung saving, an observation that's made regularly on Twitter in caustic fashion:

The burden of proof, of course, falls upon the person begging for the retweets, and many resort to posting screen grabs of SMS conversations they've had with their father in which he agrees to the plan. It's true to say that forgery is not a talent this people possess in abundance; "Dad will you quit smoking" is usually the first ever text that the child has sent their father, rather than "Did you get this?" or "Hi".
These screen grabs, being devoid of specifics, are of course endlessly reusable, and you see the same ones being deployed by different people in the vain hope of attracting small amounts of attention. This next one is a good one, demonstrating as it does an easy-come, easy-go attitude on the part of the father that's completely at odds with the behavioural characteristics of nicotine addiction.

This, however, is the best:


October 7th

Flatlining: High, chunky turtleneck sweaters

Eric Fane, also known as @FaneEric, is a man who likes to wear high, chunky turtleneck sweaters. He would like other people to start wearing high, chunky turtleneck sweaters too, in order create a high, chunky turtleneck sweatered utopia, where we’re all slightly too warm and we all tend to say “Is it hot in here or is it me?” at parties.

Here are a couple of Eric’s favourite high, chunky turtleneck sweaters:

@FaneEric operates what is largely a one-issue Twitter account. He valiantly tries to create a friendly environment where people of all creeds and colours can openly discuss knitwear of the high, chunky turtleneck variety. Over the last four days he has made a concerted effort to draw the Twitter community into the conversation:

You get the idea. Responses to Eric’s line of questioning were few, far between and slightly puzzled.

But he remains undaunted, and you have to admire that kind of tenacity. Don’t you?

NB: Eric has one other interest that he occasionally likes to pursue on Twitter:

The best answer to this was provided back in August by @caitlinmoran:


October 3rd, 2013

Rising: Celebrity Awareness Game

It’s not easy for people of my age, people who wrestle with receding hairlines, piles and rising blood pressure, to keep tabs on who’s hot and who’s not. It requires huge amounts of mental energy that are better devoted to assessing the economic benefits of switching energy supplier, or whether it would be better to stuff thyme or rosemary up the arse of a chicken. But I’ve found a way of testing my awareness of celebrity culture. I search Twitter for the many people who can’t believe that someone they know doesn’t know who someone famous is, ascertain whether I know who that person is, then mark myself accordingly. I figure that if people are going to heap derision on their friends on family for being unaware of someone, I should probably wise up.

Wookie. Star Wars. Boom. 1/1.

No idea. Apparently he’s an “American football tight end who is currently a free agent and last played for the New England Patriots”. 1/2.

White Swan in Black Swan. 2/3.

I don’t know who Max B is. Wikipedia tells me that he’s a rapping murderer. 2/4.

The singer in Tin Machine. 3/5. I’m doing better than I usually do at this.

Had to look Logan up. He’s an actor in some things I haven’t seen. 3/6.

I KNOW THIS ONE because my girlfriend DJs occasionally and she plays this and I like it a lot. 4/7.

Target for throwers of capacious underwear. 5/8.

Cup final headbutter. 6/9.

American country singer, apparently. 6/10.

Nor does this bitch. The “Mexican Madonna”. Interesting Wikipedia entry. 6/11.

Mee neether. Recorded a song called “I Luv This Shit”. 6/12. Gah.

I end strongly. 7/13. Just over half marks. I hereby apply for the editorship of OK! Magazine.


October 2nd, 2013

Falling: Loving the Daily Mail

Not one week after #dontreadthedailymail was featured in the Twitter Index, Twitter has gone Mail mad once again. We can’t get enough of not getting enough of it. It’s like some kind of serum that keeps us functioning by giving us something to rail endlessly against; without it we’d be forced to post details of our breakfast bowl or laboriously construct puns that feel more like a desperate exercise in grammar than an attempt at humour.

But hang on a sec. The Mail’s flogging over 1.7m newspapers per day. Its website is the biggest news website in the world. Twitter surely can’t be an inherently left-wing medium, so where are all the people who like the Mail? Where are all the people who are proud to state their allegiance? Their voices just don’t seem to have been heard on social media in the last couple of days, so in the interests of balance (because ShortList wouldn’t dream of being partisan) I’ve tried to find some.

That’s three. I did find a few more but they were being sarcastic.



A gym is offering 45 minute ‘napercise’ power nap classes

1000 times better than spinning

by Gary Ogden
28 Apr 2017

Turns out people now think Brexit was a mistake

Bit late now eh?

by Tom Victor
28 Apr 2017

This terrifying parasite infects fish and then becomes their tongue

The stuff of nightmares

by Tom Victor
28 Apr 2017

Donald Trump said that he thought being president would be easier

Yeah so did I

by Gary Ogden
28 Apr 2017

If your name is on this list, you’re probably an actual Viking

Does this give you a licence to pillage? Probably

by Gary Ogden
27 Apr 2017

The public voted on how to make toast and got it completely wrong

People cannot be trusted on ANYTHING

by Dave Fawbert
27 Apr 2017

Tom Watson MP on the political motivations of cinema despots

The deputy leader of the Labour Party assesses eight screen tyrants

by Ralph Jones
27 Apr 2017

We went hunting for ancient gold off the Welsh coast

Hunting for nuggets from the doomed Royal Charter

by Ralph Jones
27 Apr 2017

London Marathon hero has had his entry fee next year covered

Yeah, they can probably call it even now

by Matt Tate
26 Apr 2017

Inside the dark art of (actually decent) sports headline puns

An enduring British pastime - but why?

by Tom Usher
26 Apr 2017