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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 19th

Rising: "#ThingsIHateAboutPeople"

#ThingsIHateAboutPeople is moderately revealing about the human condition, underlining as it does the widely-held belief amongst history's most prominent philosophers that smelly breath, being disrespectful and walking quite slowly really bums people out. Especially walking slowly.



But as you progress down the seemingly never-ending list of #ThingsIHateAboutPeople, you begin to develop your own #ThingsIHateAboutPeople, you know, like racism:



Or denying the right of African Americans to use their own vernacular:



Or failing to grasp the concept of centuries, millennia, eras, epochs and the general passing of time:



Or predictably falling for a common spelling mistake when describing noisy eating:



Or criticising others for spelling mistakes while making grammar mistakes:



Or failing to think of anything more objectionable than a cereal switcheroo:



And as you feel hate asexually reproducing into yet more hate, creating a self-perpetuating, ever-spinning vortex of fury, you wonder whether that will eventually end up consuming Twitter entirely – and then you realise that actually, it kind of already is, it's just that most people don't bother using the hashtag.

Then, out of the blue comes this, my favourite thing that someone hates about humanity:



For some reason, "sana walang pasok thingy", whatever it might mean, restores my faith in human nature by being gloriously unintelligible to me, as an English-speaking man. I will now spend the rest of the day chanting "Tae! Bumabaha na lahat." in an upbeat fashion, unless someone tells me that it means something unfathomably rude.

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August 15th

Rising: "@tv30yearsago"

I could gaze at old TV listings for hours. Wave after nostalgic wave of your idle youth washes over you as you're reminded of long-forgotten shows that never warranted a DVD box set release, presenters whose careers have long since jackknifed and the fact that telly used to shut down at around midnight, leaving depressed insomniacs to stare at a blank screen and listen to a sine tone while weeping into a cushion.

I'm surely not alone in my fascination with TV listings, but @tv30yearsago only has 28 followers at the current time, which might suggest that it's a niche interest, like swallowing ball bearings or goat racing. Nevertheless, whoever operates this fantastically mundane Twitter account is pressing on with his or her task with gusto, tweeting the evening's viewing from exactly 30 years ago on BBC1 and ITV. Tonight (which in 1983 was a Monday): ITV's schedule pivots around the little-liked US sitcom It's Your Move. The Beeb run with a crime series about a wealthy moustachioed Texas oilman, Matt Houston. I remember neither of these programmes – so much for nostalgia – but look, Kelly Monteith! Blake's Seven!

Freddie Starr! Mind over, er, Cancer!

Just Amazing! News!



(PS anyone under the age of 35 can safely disregard the vast majority of the above post.)

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August 13th

Flatlining: "Archaic expressions"

I vowed to myself this morning that there would be no Twitter Index about Jeremy Paxman's beard. If I ended up tweeting a link to a blog post about excessive tweets about Paxman's beard, I'd become part of the problem. But as I searched through approximately 3,000 references to Paxman's beard for a Twitter phenomenon unrelated to Paxman's beard, I stumbled across this:



Forsooth, there. There's widespread use of archaic English expressions on Twitter, expressions that would earn you a withering look if you dared to deploy them down the pub. But on Twitter, you don't see withering looks. You get away with it. And so the olde English persists, like an untreated case of the pox.

1. Methinks. By far the most common of these, methinks either crops in Shakespearian misquoting:



Or just amid gentle musing, where "methinks" could happily be excised without altering the meaning of the original tweet.



2. Verily. Verily mainly crops up in the context of quotes from the Bible or the Koran, but it sometimes drifts gently into casual tweeting. Sometimes in a curiously oblique way:



And sometimes when someone's been watching too many episodes of Black Adder on DVD:



3. Odds Bodkins. I guess it's a convenient substitute for a rude word if your parents don't like you swearing and they regularly check your Twitter account to make sure you're not swearing in public. But it's still ridiculous.



4. Gadzooks. See "Odds Bodkins", above.



5. Twixt. You see this pretty regularly because it has two fewer characters than "between", and so it becomes vaguely useful when you're trying to squeeze information into 140 characters. Still appalling, though.



You also see it when people misspell "Twix".



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August 9th

Rising: "@pentametron"

With algorithms subtle and discrete

I seek iambic writings to retweet

A previous Twitter Index drew attention to those who endeavour to squeeze poetry into 140 characters. But @pentametron uses cunning search ’n’ analyse technology to try and combine disparate tweets into masterpieces of iambic pentameter worthy of The Bard. Or if not The Bard, then certainly A Bard. An example:



This ingenious thingy was dreamt up by NYC resident @ranjit, and in one fell swoop he has eliminated the need for us to go on Twitter, search for 10-syllable tweets with particular stresses, group them into pairs based upon the sound of the final syllable, and post them online. We should be thankful. My attempt:



And let me tell you, that took BLOODY AGES.

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August 8th

Rising: "Feeling old"

I think it was Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez who said "Age isn't how old you are, but how old you feel." In fact I know it was Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, because I just checked. I'm not the kind of person to try and fake literary knowledge. Nah. I just looked it up. God bless the internet. If it wasn't for the internet I'd have had to keep waffling on for the duration of this paragraph, desperately trying to skirt around the fact that I didn't know who said "Age isn't how old you are, but how old you feel." Anyway, check out these old bastards:


Tyler, there, only 18 years old, but tweeting with the weary cynicism of a man of, say, 41, i.e. me. I could keep doing Twitter searches for the phrase "I feel old" and consecutive numbers, but it would probably get a bit dull, so let's skip all that and just head straight to this:


Twitter users do have at their disposal a more imaginative way of expressing their panic at the passing of time, however, by relating it to cultural and historical events and how long ago they occurred, e.g:


Shortly after tweeting this, writer and all-round human @petepaphides came up with a related hashtag: #mortalitymaths. It failed to catch on. I was disappointed by this, and resolved to administer life support to it at some point, you know, re-animate it, kick it back to life. Hence this post. It won't work, obviously. But I love #mortalitymaths. It allows you to express your fear of death while also dispensing vaguely interesting factoids. Win-win.


Incidentally, I just realised (i.e. I looked it up) that we're further away from the release of Rock Around The Clock than the release of Rock Around The Clock was to the invention of the paperclip. God I feel old.

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