News of the Tweet: Twitter Hates Your Life

The world’s least interesting man, the science of building an online cult, and Jeremy Kyle is a tool

By Seb Kemp

NOTT has been absent for the last three weeks. The reason for this is that I have barely been in front of the Twitter screen. So, this week I started paying attention again.


This is what I've been missing? I'm a big fan of Twitter and one of the most frustrating things about liking Twitter is explaining to non-Twitterati that it isn't just a scrolling screen of tedious social statuses. But now I'm struggling to argue with them anymore.

Jeremy Kyle is a parasite of British, day-time television. I totally understand that he, of all people, would make point numbers 1. and 7., as that is perfectly in line with the idea behind his TV show, The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Now, Paul Bas here might not actually be as dull as he sounds. Perhaps this is the work of a champion humorist. Step back from the obvious banality for a minute and consider that instead he is making a scathing and witty observation about the challenge of primeval man tortured by the shackles of bureaucracy in modern society.

Or perhaps you just can't see the punch line. Maybe he ran out of space to fit the punch line. 140 characters isn't much. Instead, read it out loud to yourself, in an awfully rambunctious voice and then insert your own punch line at end. For instance:

"Whoa, do you know what the absolute worst thing about getting your mailbox stolen is? I'll tell you, it's going to the post office to get your mail…and finding out that no one has sent you any letters because, quite naturally, they forgot you were still alive. TA-BOOM-TISK"

Now, I know Twitter isn't a number games, where the player with the most friends wins, but an interesting piece of scientific research into Twitter dynamics has found that being a Negative Nancy who blabbers on and on about themselves all the time actually isn't what people are looking for in Twitter followees. In fact, talking about yourself and your dull existence is actually going to harm your following.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology tracked more than 500 active Twitter users as they tweeted more than 500,000 times over the course of 15 months. About every three months the researchers recorded each user's follower growth, and analyzed what it was about their tweets and behavior that seemed to lead to growth.

What they found was that it was best to not ramble on about your daily routine, your bowel movements, your cat, your emotions, your ex-husband, your CPU circuitry, or your mailbox.

"Informational content attracts followers with an effect that is roughly thirty times higher than the effect of [personal] 'meformer' content, which deters growth," the researchers wrote. "We think this is due to the prevalence of weak ties on Twitter."

The reason, researchers reason is that Twitter is made up of a large community with weak social ties; followers just don't know you that well and just don't give a damn about the tedious details of your vapid little life. Perhaps because all of our lives contain enough wearisome routine and unremarkably beige specifics already, so we simply don't need to fill our eyes with screaming reminders that life is all too often the equivalent of sitting under a grey sky and a tartan blanket with a bag of fish and chips on a blustery pier in November.
The Twitter sciences suggest that you feed your followers with information instead.

Interestingly, they also found that pumping tweets full of useless hashtags was not a good thing to building a following.

#OMG #whowouldhavethunkit #hashtagforhashtagsake #istillwipefrombacktofront #bikes #people #words #NOTT