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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)

March 18th, 2014

Rising: "If I won the lottery..."

The sight of south London mechanic Neil Trotter posing for cameras with a Euromillions cheque so large that it requires his wife to help him hold it has prompted people to ponder the perennial question of what they would do if they were in his position. It's hard for any of us to envisage a sudden windfall of precisely £107,932,603.20 and the prospect of billionarehood, but that hasn't stopped people trying to do precisely that over the last few hours.
Let's get the generous people out of the way quickly:

That was easy. Now down to business:

Charitable, non? Holidays figure quite prominently in people's plans, as if they haven't quite twigged that the rest of their life is going to be spent on holiday, that it's a given, and they might as well say "The first thing I'd do if I won the lottery is have lots of money."

Some people would mark their departure from work in more imaginative ways:

While others would make big purchases, spending untold sums on the things they've always dreamed of:

Some people set their sights on more mundane, achievable things:

(Before, presumably, going on a veritable orgy of construction.)
Others would relish the freedom that the money afforded them to just get up to crazy larks:

Which might seem like a funny observation of Andy's, but it's actually been doing the rounds on Twitter for about a year and a half:

Other far-fetched fantasies:

Some people aren't sure what to buy:

While others aren't sure of anything, but they're gonna let you know about it regardless:


March 14th, 2014

Rising: MH370: it's obvious!

The fate of Malaysian flight MH370 is a mystery. No-one knows what happened to it, although if you read the more colourful conspiracy theory message boards you might be persuaded that someone knows what happened to it and just isn't letting on. But any current attempt to assess the whereabouts of the aircraft is just wild speculation. Here are some typically batshit examples:

Eric, hedging his bets there, but Tony's more certain that it's a hostage situation.

"Trim them," said one hijacker to another, as the plane taxied smoothly on the deserted island. "Trim them, and sell their."

A richer source of entertainment is brought to us by the Twitter visionaries, the soothsayers, the ones who cannot believe how stupid the governments of the region have been and how misguided the search process is, because the answer has clearly been staring us in the face all along. It's OBVIOUS.

What, Caroline? What?

We know not the conspiracy of which you speak.

Oh. Aliens.

Oh. Cargo.

Oh. Staged.

Oh. Evil.

Not particularly.

Or maybe they just don't know. Because none of us know. Do we?

March 11th, 2014

Falling: Telling celebrities you don't like them

Twitter gives us unprecedented access to celebrities. These people used to remain secluded, tucked away in their green rooms, their hotel suites and palatial mansions, but Twitter has successfully lured them out of their natural habitat and into the open where we can watch them slowly perambulate across social media while focusing our crosshair on them and firing repeatedly. TAKE THAT! BLAM!

Now, I've no idea who Brent Celek is because I grew up in a dull town in Bedfordshire and have little awareness of American sport, but Bernard Stenchworthy, aka @Stenchworthy, certainly knows of Celek. He doesn't like Celek one bit. In fact, Bernard's not too keen on anyone. While the founders of Twitter grandly claimed at its launch that it would become the "pulse of society", Bernard sees Twitter more as an opportunity to tell Ben Affleck that he's a pussy:

Or to tell Justin Bieber that he's crap:

Bernard doesn't do much else. He watches television, waits for someone to annoy him, looks them up on Twitter, concertinas his disappointment at their behaviour into 140 characters, posts it, then goes back to watching television. It's quite some life.

The thing is, I said that Twitter gives us unprecedented access to celebrities, but it doesn't really. It looks as if it does, but it's obviously an illusion. Bernard may or may not derive satisfaction or pleasure from expressing his opinions on Jimmy Fallon to Jimmy Fallon in a theoretically public place, but it's a howl into the void. Fallon's people are not concerned by Bernard's activity. It doesn't even reach the required threshold to be classed as bullying. It's just unusual behaviour. Particularly when his ire is directed at television shows:

Or pizza companies:

But when you get into the rhythm of Bernard's potshots, their sheer impotence starts to become almost delightful. This made me laugh, mainly because it had zero effect:

This had even less effect:

None of them have any effect:



March 5th, 2014

Rising: Followers

Following. Followers. Twitter is all about followers. You follow people. And more people. They follow you. More people follow them. Those people follow each other. The numbers get bigger. It feels good.

But what's the goal? She doesn't say. I'm not sure she has one. Because amassing followers is compelling. If you're on the verge of a significant number, a multiple of 10, or 50, or a hundred, and you mention it, you sometimes get a few more. And as followers keep following, you get hungrier. Not literally. Hungry for followers, I mean.

Three figures feels like a lot, but you follow a few people who have four figures. Four figures would seem a good target to aim for. It's a long way off, but 1,000 is a nice round number. Let's keep going.

And you break the 1,000 barrier, so maybe it's time to start offering prizes to potential new followers, dangling little rewards...

But you're never happy. Not really. In the distance, a pinprick on the horizon, lies infinity, and that now seems a reachable target. More followers, please. More.

Go on, Jessica. Get people to drag you over the half million mark.

Come on, Jedward. You're nearly there.

But what does it MEAN, really? Anything? Nothing? The numbers have all started looking weird. I need a lie down.

March 3rd, 2014

Falling: The Wile E. Coyote gag

Above you'll see a classic piece of 20th century cartoonery. Back in October 2011, writer Matt Roller paid tribute to it in a tweet that has now been resplurged around 17,000 times and counting:

In the last 2 and a half years, it has become a mainstay of Twitter – occasionally retweeted from the original, with Matt Roller credited, but more often retweeted from someone else who's decided to pass said tweet off as their own. Now, you can't get too haughty about plagiarism on Twitter; it's an absurdly fast-moving medium, and I wouldn't sanction the use of capital punishment against anyone who just copies, pastes and blasts the thing back out there. More intriguing, however, are the people who make minor changes, subtle rewordings and rejiggings, because they feel very slight unease about what they're doing and this somehow serves to absolve themselves of guilt.

It can start in a very subtle way. A little ellipsis at the end:

Or the insertion of the word "only" and an exclamation mark to perk things up a bit:

A carefully considered misspelling of the name:

A recognition of the victim of said violence:

Offloading the plagiarism charge to some bloke called Dan while still fishing for retweets:

The notion that it's amazing, rather than sad:

Not "beautifully realistic" but "beautifully constructed lifelike" – a poetic attempt, here, from Gary:

Rephrasing it as a question, to which the answer is evidently "yes":

Adding words and then having to use numbers to bring the character count down:

The removal of all punctuation:

Describing the "hunger" for violence, a real budding novelist's stab, here:

Prefixing with an existential gasp, then saying something that doesn't quite make sense:

And lastly, a total upturn from novelist Ben Shapiro that could JUST CONCEIVABLY be original work and just resemble Matt's tweet by a STAGGERING COINCIDENCE:

That covers the first six months or so following Matt's tweet. I could have gone further but the repetition of the word "tunnels" is starting to do my head in and I think I've made the point in any case.

February 26th, 2014

Flatlining: Things tasting disgusting

What tastes disgusting this week? Amid the upheavals in the Ukraine and the slow death of the NHS, this is certainly the question that's been keeping me awake at night, and I'm sure you feel the same way. Social media gives us the wonderful opportunity to mine data from the last 7 days and eke out this kind of information, so let's use Twitter as a kind of barometer to find out precisely what tastes disgusting. Exciting, no?

What does?

What does?

What does?

The weekly league table:

Some substance or other 3
Tea 3
Teeth whitener 2
Water 2
Oatmeal 1
Day Nurse 1
Coffee 1
Lemsip Max 1
Cake 1
Vanilla Latte 1
Vegetable Drink 1
Cookie 1
Lollipop 1
Ramen 1
Ham 1

So there we have it. A big shout out, also, to Chris, Jason, Sarah and Mick who all made the same joke last Wednesday:


February 24th, 2014

Falling: Misspelled Insults

You've got to be careful on social media. Dare to transgress boundaries of taste or express contrary views, and people will be rude to you. Remain within said boundaries of taste or express views that are commonly held, and people will also be rude to you. Either way, you'll come in for stick. You could restrict your social media pronouncements to incredibly benign subjects like moss, or ratios, or helmets, and people will accuse you of being, I dunno, a corporate cocksucker in the pockets of big business. You're on a hiding to nothing.

But don't be too downcast. I don't know if you know this, but someone can't spell when they're being rude to you, it invalidates their critique. It actually doesn't count. You can ignore it. They may as well not have bothered. The classic example of this is "your a dick". I wouldn't want to make any sweeping generalisations, here, but anyone who's called a dick by someone who says "your a dick" probably isn't a dick. The absence of the letter e and an apostrophe immediately calls the judgement of the accuser into question. You can ask any high court judge if that's true, and they'll all say yes, honest.

Here are some examples of invalidated dick accusations from this morning:

Love this one in particular:

This one breaks the rule I constructed earlier, about the judgement of the author of the tweet being invalidated, which kind of invalidates this whole post, but never mind:

Anyway, let's end with an example that's laden with irony and fulfils all the requirements of Muphry's Law":


February 20th, 2014

Falling: #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion

#ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion is currently trending on Twitter, and as superfluous hashtags go, this would have to rank alongside #tweet or #twitter or #hashtag. Stating controversial opinions, whipping up debate, antagonising people and forming bonds with others as a result is, after all, part of Twitter's raison d'être. We spend all day every day confessing our unpopular opinions – normally in the hope that the social media soup will yield up someone who agrees with us and makes our unpopular opinion not quite so unpopular.

Let's face it: there's nothing remotely confessional about these tweets. These are proud boasts, examples of ferociously independent thinking and courageous attitudes that defy social norms. Hey – let's take a look at the hashtag and see the range of topics currently being discussed.

Some unpopular opinions there, I'm sure you'll agree, unprecedented in their clarity of thought – except for a day back in August last year when people were doing pretty much the same thing:

Only slightly? Well, I guess that's something. Poor Jake Bugg.


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This German town came up with a genius way of humiliating neo-Nazis

Is this the best possible way to deal with them?

by Alex Finnis
18 Aug 2017

Donald Trump’s lawyer: possibly not racist, definitely not intelligent

Oldest trick in the book

by Tom Victor
17 Aug 2017

The 10 worst cities in the world to live in 2017

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17 Aug 2017

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by Emily Reynolds
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Jurors refuse to work on Martin Shkreli's trial for the best reasons

He is *not* a popular man

by Emily Reynolds
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Apparently millennials hate boobs now - but what do we like instead?

These god damn millennials, eh

by Gary Ogden
17 Aug 2017

All the times Donald Trump has failed to condemn far-right extremists

This has gone on for some time

by Tom Victor
16 Aug 2017