My Least Favourite Thing About Twitter

It's revealed just how petty I am.

I love Twitter. I'm not one of those who dismisses it as a place where idiots waste countless precious hours – though I am an idiot and I do waste countless precious hours there. But I'm not deluded enough to think that all those celebrities I follow actually care about my existence – though I was shamefully proud when the great Robert Florence replied to one of my tweets (even though his reply was essentially dismissive and consisted of just five words).

But though I'm quick to latch onto the tweets of anyone I vaguely admire like some kind of demanding, entitled limpet, I'm equally quick to unfollow even my most beloved of individuals the second they say anything with which I disagree.

I unfollowed childhood hero Michael Rosen when he said something mean about HMV. He laughed at all the “crocodile tears” being shed over its closure. No, I thought. That's a lot of people out of work and it's now utterly impossible to buy new music anywhere on the high streets of so many UK cities. Goodbye, Michael.

I unfollowed Pete Fowler – responsible for some of the best album covers of the past 20 years – after he made a few unsavoury comments about Alt-J. Alt-J made one of my favourite albums of last year, and I really don't care that Pete Fowler didn't care for it. But he was actively wishing death upon them and doing so apropos of nothing. Goodbye, Pete.

I unfollowed Luke Haines – songwriting genius – after I realised that all he ever did was sneer that music's not as good as it used to be. I know he's a celebrated misanthrope, but what sort of moron openly revels in the notion that rock music might be dead or dying? Goodbye, Luke.

Unforgivable on my part, though, is that I unfollowed Tom Cox after he said something nasty about Blur during their 2012 Brit Awards performance. Tom Cox wears tweed, is bearded, lives in Norfolk and writes witty and captivating articles and books about cats, folk customs and nature. He and I would undoubtedly be the best of friends if we met in real life. But all it took was a subtle suggestion that Pulp are better than Blur, and that was it. Goodbye, Tom.

I would much rather have not learned that about myself – that I'm so unwilling to expose myself to opinions that are even slightly different to mine. I like to think that I'm reasonable, open-minded and mature. But the second someone says something at all disagreeable? Whoosh – it's playground politics.

Still. It's one thing to simply unfollow those I admire before thinking ever so slightly less of them. At least I'm not painstakingly and obsessively documenting everything I hate about the world whilst ostensibly compiling a list of the 100 Worst People On Twitter.

The 100 Worst People On Twitter must be one of the worst websites to ever have existed. And in making that assessment, I include any right-wing atrocity or bad-porn ring you could care to mention. The world is a sad, horrible and merciless place as is. It's almost unbearably depressing that there are some people out there who seem to think: “Hey, you know what this world needs? More negativity!”

This is cynicism for the sake of cynicism. They claim to be looking out for those that “represent something bad beyond their Twitter account. The insularity of the British media classes. The sinister creep of threatened masculinity. The banality of modern alternative culture.” But I know this not to be the case.

How do I know this? Well, there are two people on the list who I really quite admire. Let's look at Charlie Brooker first. His writing is fresh, imaginative and energising – especially when he tries his hand at fiction. I can, however, fully understand a lot of the criticism he gets.

The 100 Worst People On Twitter, though, attack him on the grounds that he had Shoreditch hipster Nathan Barley listen to Supergrass.

Meanwhile, their no-holds-barred denouement of David Mitchell opens with this curious sentiment:

“The obvious point to make with David Mitchell is that he, Webb, and commisioning editors made the mistake of thinking that being able to memorise some words on a piece of paper and repeat them, sometimes while pretending to do things, meant that was enough to make you destined for greatness in the field of writing, because the words they read happened to be funny.”

Sorry, every actor that ever lived. But your ancient craft is nothing more than “being able to memorise some words on a piece of paper and repeat them, sometimes while pretending to do things”. That's all you're doing. So stop pretending you're talented. Because according to the good people of the 100 Worst People On Twitter – who, as you know, are the sole arbiters of acceptable behaviour – you're essentially worthless.

OK, these are two people I admire, so perhaps I'm naturally defensive. That I'm familiar with their work, though, means that I'm able to identify where these guys have just cherry-picked irrelevant and unrepresentative nuggets from extensive careers to support the thesis that Mitchell and Brooker don't really deserve to live.

It stands to reason that if they've taken this cherry-picking approach with these two, then they must have done with everyone. Which means that the roastings of those celebrities who I actively unhealthily dislike must be equally as ill-informed and vindictive.

But the worst thing about The 100 Worst People On Twitter is the sheer hypocrisy of those who compile it.

The introduction to their piece on David Mitchell suggests that they have no time or respect for actors or acting. Similarly, their piece on Charlie Brooker makes explicit their contempt for video games, for people who like video games and for people who write about video games.

But oh, heaven help those who have anything bad to say about hip hop!

According to these guys, if you don't like hip hop, you're definitely racist. Oh yes.

If you disagree with me, you're essentially evil. Now that's petty.

The amount of energy, research, redrafting and resentment that must have gone into writing much of what's on The 100 Worst People On Twitter genuinely makes me despair. Why would such conscientious individuals – such obviously talented writers – put so much effort into something that will only ever be used by people to justify their vindictive hatred?

One of the worst effects the internet's had upon creative types is that it seems to have kickstarted a tendency to sneer at the worst of everything (as opposed to seeking out and celebrating the best).

If you're looking for the worst humanity has to offer, you'll doubtlessly find it on Twitter.

But even if you're not seeking outrage, Twitter can disappoint you. How horrible it is to learn that those who you admire don't agree with you 100% of the time!

And that's my least favourite thing about Twitter. It's like a terrible funhouse mirror that makes humanity look much uglier than it really is.

The revelation that I'm so petty is just the start of it.


  1. I still can't see any point in Twitter whatsoever. Endless, endless banality from all over the place, plus the introduction into the lexicon of such things as "Trending".

    Everyone's ending their sentence with #somethingorother, everyone starts their name with an "@", and the WORST part of it... The bloody media broadcasting/printing people's "tweets" as news!

    I don't need a funhouse mirror to tell me that humanity's ugly, but it DOES help to accentuate how stupid everyone is. #rantinguncontrollably

    1. I use it as a cross between a blog reader, an RSS feed and a social media platform. In one place, I can keep in touch with friends and see when my favourite blogs, bloggers and websites have updated. It's also great for job hunting and is constantly a fantastic source of inspiration (if you're an aspiring writer).

      Really, it's only a banal place if you choose to follow banal people!

  2. Also...

    Note that on that 100 Worst People on Twitter thing, they've stopped at 14 and are getting loads of abuse in the comments section over it.

  3. Dom Passantino and Callum Hamilton, right? I find it kind of ironic how they bitch and moan about white people when they're white themselves. And claim to be all right-on and stuff - no war but the class war! Middle-class people are evil! - while making misogynistic comments (in fact, isn't Dom the one who runs a blog talking about which women on the internet he'd fuck?) And bash Charlie Brooker for hyperbole about My Super Sweet 16, when Dom is the guy who said Tori Amos's daughter should be kidnapped and murdered in order for her to start making good music again.

    Apparently Dom Passantino claimed he wasn't white as he is of Sicilian descent. I really hope that's not true because if it is, wow, just wow.