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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)

May 21st

Falling: "Cyclist haters"

There are many things worth getting angry about these days. This morning I’m oscillating between bigoted politicians, extreme weather events prompted by climate change and nightclub owners who claim that installing two-way mirrors in the ladies toilets is just a “bit of fun”. Against that backdrop, the activities of cyclists seem pretty benign, what with all that leisurely, quiet, pollution-free moving about. But for a certain kind of road user, cyclists are a menace ranking somewhere alongside arsonists – a menace that has to be stamped out.

Thing is, if you’re sufficiently angry with the world to follow the advice of young Steve, there, you’d be well advised not to tweet about it. Norfolk resident Emma Wray did. She’s closed her Twitter account, now, but the folk over at ipayroadtax.com screen grabbed it for posterity:

Aside for the fact that she doesn’t pay road tax either, because no-one does, because it was abolished in 1937, she was also admitting an offence, a fact which Norfolk Police were fairly quick to pick up on:

According to this: BBC article, they’re now speaking to the driver – who would probably have got away with it if it wasn’t for her compulsion to fess up on social media. Be wary of doing such a thing. It looks bad.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes. Cycling. Just a nota bene, from Kaya Burgess:


May 17th

Falling: "So Much For Global Warming"

We established a few weeks back on the Twitter Index that the quarter of a billion or so denizens of Twitter really like talking about the weather. We love to give our instant reaction to whatever's been chucked down on us from above, whether it's relentless sunbeams, enveloping mists or hailstones the size of Yoko Ono. I am as guilty as anyone else – but I've got to be frank, it gets a bit wearisome.

Sometimes I wish that we all lived in equatorial or polar regions so any comments about the weather would be as redundant as pointing out that the air seems to be a combination of oxygen and nitrogen. Again.

Anyway, it's not easy to come up with new ways of saying "it's a bit cold", and you need at least 200 or so to get you through the Autumn, Winter, Spring and (it seems) some of the summer as well. The thesaurus only gives me chilly, cool, freezing, icy, snowy, icy-cold, glacial, wintry, crisp, frosty, frigid, bitter, bitterly cold, biting, piercing, numbing, sharp, raw, polar, arctic, Siberian, nippy, brass monkeys, parky, hyperborean, boreal, hibernal, hiemal and gelid. Not enough.

But there is one other option. You'd be advised never to resort to it, because it reveals desperately woolly thinking and a complete inability to discern between "weather" and "climate", but if it's ever a bit chilly, like it has been the last couple of days, you can do a Twitter search and be guaranteed to turn up a roll call of shame like the one you see below. Take it away, guys.


May 16th

Rising: @DaftLimmy

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. If you're not aware that it's Mental Health Awareness Week, you could say that the objective of Mental Health Awareness Week has failed. But its purpose is essential: to get people talking about mental health, to get people who wouldn't necessarily admit to having mental health issues to acknowledge them and seek a bit of help, to get friends of people who might have mental health issues to offer them a bit of love and support.

My anxiety is something that undulates pretty steadily these days; I wouldn't say that I ever feel particularly "normal" (who does?) but it's certainly manageable – and it became manageable thanks to great GPs, great therapists, great pals. But, you know, I still get dips when the anxiety peaks, like on odd numbered dates when their isn't an "R" in the month. Last night as I was attempting to go to sleep, this sequence of tweets popped up from @DaftLimmy – a profoundly talented chap whose glorious dicking about never particularly seemed like a front for a troubled soul. But he told us about his depression, and what he did about it, and for some reason it made me blub – not because his experiences necessarily chimed with mine, but just because I read it thinking "Actually, this might really help someone. He's doing a good thing, here."

I've no idea if @DaftLimmy is aware that it's Mental Health Awareness Week, but it's the best bit of Mental Health Awareness Week Awareness I've seen all week.


May 14th

Falling: Daft Punk

The trajectory of Twitter reaction to the music of Daft Punk over the past few weeks has soared and plunged like an extremely uncertain eagle. It began when they put out a single featuring Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams, which was unanimously hailed as the best piece of music since prehistoric man clunked two hollow bits of wood together.

We couldn’t get enough of it. It became audible in pretty much every square foot of the UK.

We obligingly bought 500,000 copies.

But you can’t lavish praise on Twitter without dissenting voices blaring. Almost immediately, people decided that they didn’t think it was as good as other people thought it was – which is pretty bloody obvious, and, actually, holds true for every single piece of music ever made. Despite it reaching #1 in the charts, the consensus on Twitter was that people who expressed a liking for Get Lucky were failing to consider it in some kind of wider cultural context – which, of course, you have to do in order to appreciate music properly.

Then this morning’s news that the album was being streamed on iTunes prompted a screech of excitement! A whole album! By Daft Punk! To listen to! For free! Whoo! But it didn’t last long, because instead of sounding like “Da Funk”, it sounded a bit more like Toto or Steely Dan, which isn’t allowed, because we’re the ones who decide what Daft Punk should sound like.

By marginally disrupting people’s expectations in a way that people didn't particularly like, Daft Punk officially fell foul of Twitter users. Their punishment? To break pre-order sales records:

And to sit at the top of Twitter’s trending topics for the next 12 hours or so:


May 13th

Rising: @Cmdr_Hadfield

Today marks the end of a four-and-a-half month era, as Chris Hadfield – until yesterday the commander of the International Space Station – departs on a Soyuz flight back to earth. In the time he’s spent on the ISS he’s tweeted, sung songs, tweeted, taken pictures, tweeted, marvelled at the way water floats about in zero gravity and, amongst many other things apart from tweeting, chatted to William Shatner:

The reason we adore @Cmdr_Hadfield is because nearly every single one of his tweets has an untweeted subtext, along the lines of “F**KING HELL! I’M IN F**KING SPACE! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS SH*T! JESUS! PINCH ME! THIS IS BLOWING MY F**KING MIND!” He expresses all the excitement, disbelief and forehead-rubbing awe that any one of us would feel if we found ourselves gazing at the Earth from 250 miles up. Even this morning, as he prepares to leave the ISS, he’s still tweeting gorgeous pictures of the planet – one of a series of snaps that reminds us of our own insignificance, our own mortality, and the fact that he’s in SPACE, godammit.

A skilled musician, Hadfield’s been recording an album during his stay on the ISS. One of the fruits of his labours, a version of Bowie’s Space Oddity, was uploaded to YouTube last night; it’s an emotional song even when stripped of context and playing on a knackered radio in a hairdressers, but Hadfield’s version had us reaching for the Kleenex, because… well, because he’s sitting in a tin can. Far above the world. Planet Earth is blue, and there’s nothing he can do.


May 10th

Rising: @RyanWMcHenry

When Twitter launched its Vine app a few weeks ago, people downloaded it in their thousands and then didn't really know what to do with it. For those of you unlucky enough not to own a video app that you find a bit superfluous, here's a brief summary: Vine allows you to film up to six seconds of video and then loop it. Most people film their cats or their legs and then sigh to themselves and put their phone down.

But now, finally, a use has been found for Vine. Writer and director @RyanWMcHenry has spent valuable time sitting in front of his television, filming himself attempting to feed Ryan Gosling cereal. Twitter is going nuts for this – and I'm not even using the word "nuts" because you sometimes get nuts in muesli and that would be hilarious. Nuts is what's happening. Ryan Gosling is trending on Twitter for reasons completely beyond his control.

Buy stock in @RyanWMcHenry . Buy it now. You won't make as many gains as if you'd bought stock in @RyanWMcHenry an hour ago, but do it anyway.


May 8th

Rising: @NandosUK

It thrusts a dagger into my heart to have to feature an example of corporate bandwagoning in today's Twitter Index. But this timely and, I hate to say it, vaguely amusing tweet from Nando's UK is currently being retweeted so often that it's even managing to drown out the digital noise of people banging on about how much they don't care about the Queen's Speech. I'm also aware that I mentioned a fried chicken company in yesterday's bulletin – but please, let me reassure you that I'm not currently gorging on free spicy wings that have been biked to my door by grateful chicken vendors. I'm actually drinking a glass of Thames Water, which is delicious. I have it piped in specially. Costs around £250 a year. I can highly recommend it.

Anyway, whoever it was in Nando's social media team that had the idea of posting that tweet is probably being carried shoulder high around the office and being blasted in the face with lashings of peri-peri sauce squirted by grateful and jubilant colleagues. For those of you who are happily ignorant of matters pertaining to football, a) Sir Alex Ferguson is stepping down as manager of Manchester United after bloody ages, b) there's a phenomenon known as "Fergie Time" which c) is the time that supposedly gets added on by a referee to a game that Manchester United are losing in order to allow them to win; d) People reckon it's five minutes, but e) BBC did an investigation and found out that it's 79 seconds.

Anyway, if you're dining in Nando's tonight you'll be allowed not 79 but 300 extra seconds to ram some more sweet potato mash in your face, thanks to Sir Alex's retirement plans. If for some reason your local Nando's is off message and tries to make you leave at 11pm on the dot, maybe create some kind of social media campaign to complain about it, and we can watch Twitter eat itself, flame-grilled.



The Twitter Index


The Twitter Index


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