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The Twitter Index

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

August 6th, 2013

Rising: @PeterSimonSays

Keep talking. Never stop talking. Keep facts, opinions and strings of unnecessary adverbs flowing out of your mouth at all costs. This is a skill that most people only ever need when they find themselves on an excruciating date with someone unexpectedly timid, but the live broadcaster has to do that kind of shit for a living – and shopping channel presenters are the undisputed kings and queens. Sure, Radio 4 listeners might marvel at an episode of Just A Minute when Paul Merton manages to speak uninterrupted for 60 seconds without hesitating, repeating or deviating from the subject of "driving tests" or whatever, but the men and women maintaining vocal utterances on QVC, Ideal World, Bid Up TV and the like would wipe the floor with that lot. They're incredible. They offer a series of masterclasses in off-the-cuff improvisation.

Which isn't to say that everything they come up with is interesting, or useful, or illuminating. In fact, most of it isn't. But that's not the point. Dead air is the evil to be banished, and hilarious tautology is the inevitable consequence. I remember once seeing a QVC presenter saying: "This is a wonderful stainless steel watch. It's made of steel, and yes, I know it sounds obvious, but it's not going to stain."

Which brings us to @PeterSimonSays. Peter Simon frequently has time to fill when selling tat on telly. If you've not seen him before, this is fairly typical:



And now there's a Twitter account devoted to capturing his more extraordinary utterances. But when I consider this Twitter account, not once do I laugh at Peter Simon. I laugh with Peter Simon. This is just what happens when an over-exercised human mind rushes far, far ahead of the human mouth. It's not his fault. It's just his job. He's only obeying orders. And let's face it, if it were us on screen trying to sell a range of faux-emerald jewellery, we'd probably end up saying stuff like this:

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August 5th, 2013

Rising: @nakedfeet69

Frank Trudel doesn't like wearing socks. His Twitter bio says as much. He prefers "to be barefoot as much as possible." He lives in Ontario, Canada. Every morning he looks out of the window and assesses whether the weather conditions will allow him to remain barefoot for the rest of the day. He then lets us know. This was a triumphant day for Frank. In fact, he's achieved barefootedness very frequently of late. That's because it's summertime. Daytime temperatures in his part of Ontario average out at about 24ºC. I reckon that that's easily warm enough for bare feet, and Frank agrees. Frank even goes barefoot when it's raining. But you can sense his disappointment when the weather gets sufficiently cold for him to have to don some socks, even if they're of the "low cut" variety. You have to go back to February or so to find Frank reluctantly reaching for his regular socks. And if you delve back to December you'll find him in thermals. He'll occasionally chip in a seasonal greeting: But most of the time it's just about the socks. Or absence of them. Sometimes he leaves us hanging: But he always lets us know in the end. Frank's been doing this for over two years, now. I think it's my favourite Twitter account ever.

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August 1st

Falling: "@antitwemitism"

You could have seen it coming. Get someone in the news who's Jewish (Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy) exercising prudence over financial matters (potential sale of Gareth Bale for megabucks to Real Madrid) and suddenly there's an inevitable rise in crude racial stereotyping on Twitter. I could now spend some time searching twitter for "jew", "nose", "greedy" and so on, but fortunately someone's saved me the bother and put 24 hours of Jewish stereotyping here, on Tumblr. There was also an associated Twitter account called @antitwemitism, but in the last few hours that's been suspended, which prompted this pertinent question by David Baddiel: Clearly @antitwemitism was doing little other than drawing people's attention to stuff going on in obscure corners of Twitter.

Highlighting, not propagating. But as we're now all hugely aware, it's possible to report accounts whose content you don't like. And despite Twitter being public, people really don't like attention being drawn to their racist moments. They figure that their loonball hatred of, say, the Portuguese will only be noticed by their followers, who presumably aren't particularly bothered by their loonball hatred of the Portuguese. And then it'll quietly pass under the radar until someone annoying flags it up. Hi!
If you started a Twitter account of everyone who hates people based upon their nationality, you'd quickly become very depressed, but it would probably look a little bit like this: Easily done. But y'know, I'm not sure what purpose it would serve. It would mainly reinforce the logic that a) some people are idiots, b) twitter is used by people, thus c) twitter is used by some idiots.

Driving the idiots off Twitter is like trying to drive the idiots out of Leicester, or Mannheim, or Sao Paolo. Horribly time consuming, and constantly begging the question of where they're all going to end up.

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July 31st

Falling: "@b0ringtweets"

Twitter often stands accused of being boring, not least by people who actually use Twitter. Of course, Twitter is only as boring as the people you're following. If you're following self-proclaimed Boring Tweeter @b0ringtweets, you'll have your days enlivened and enriched by revelations such as this: And this: And, on a daily basis, the fact that he's just texted Steve: Thing is, @b0ringtweets knows what he's doing. He's not as boring as he likes to think he is. He (and I think he's dropped enough hints for us to conclude that he's a he) has gone from having 70 followers to 70,000 followers in the space of two months. He's created a hunger amongst a section of Twitter community for this kind of information. For example, some poor sap on Twitter can mention they like potato salad and no-one gives a shit: But when @b0ringtweets does it, it gets retweeted 106 times. @b0ringtweets has actually made his yearning for potato salad Not Boring. He's failing at his own game. If he was doing his job properly, he'd be posting things like this: Or this: Or this: As it is, he's regularly engaging in gently amusing banter with Ricky Gervais and developing his own catchphrases. Come on, @b0ringtweets!
Try harder!

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