Twitter is full of so many funny and amazing people. But sometimes it can be hard to find the diamonds in the rough. Or someone good will get milkshake ducked and turn out to be a horrible racist or something.
Never fear, I’m here to help. Here are the only 100 people you need to follow on Twitter to have a good time.
What’s the worst thing you can think of? No, worse than that. No, worse than that.
Ok, now imagine something a thousand times worse. Now multiply that by a billion. Now imagine that thing was even worse somehow. Imagine it transcending human intelligence, becoming something so awful that the human mind is unable to comprehend it. That our mortal standards of good and evil no longer apply. That to try and understand even a fraction of it would be to invite insanity.
Congratulations, you are now picturing this Twitter account.
We all know brands on Twitter can be awful. I do my own part in contributing to this with the work I do for a certain online brand. But I try to remain at most ineffectual, rather than outright evil.
What we have here, on @Brand is somehow a condensed form of everything bad on Twitter. If self-proclaimed ‘entrepreneurs’ are the crack cocaine of Twitter, and branded content is meth, whilst people who post motivational quotes over sunsets are like MDMA or something – then @Brand is pure, uncut, mainlined heroine. It’s pure awful.
I think what I hate most is that it’s not striving towards anything. What’s the point of it? To sort of discuss the concept of ‘brand’ in some kind of open and undirected way? It doesn’t seem to be doing that. Here’s the bio:
We want to share the life of a brand, the wins & losses. Each brand is different but we can all benefit from their individual experiences. via @johnrampton
Let’s go through this.
“We want to share the life of a brand” – literally nobody wants this. Unless they mean specifically “we people who are running this account”. “Each brand is different” – I guess… but that doesn’t really mean anything “We can all benefit from their individual experiences” – What? How? Are brands individuals now? What the hell?
So yeah, that bio isn’t a great start. I think it might actually be pure nonsense. It reads like some deep mission statement, but there’s nothing of content in it whatsoever. So, what kind of content can we expect from @Brand?
Is this good content? A duotoned picture of a mountain with some stock font graphics over it? What’s the message? Blah blah the future is determined by today not tomorrow. Cool, a statement of material determinism. Thanks so much for this insight that my actions have effects. I had no idea. Also, my future is determined by what I do tomorrow, it’s just in addition to my actions today. So it’s sort of wrong too?
Look, this stuff simply isn’t impressive. Here’s something I made in 60 seconds with a free image off Unsplash.
Is my content better or worse than what @Brand posted? It’s no less meaningful, and I’d say mine actually makes you think. But nope, apparently 35 people consider @Brand’s tweet worth liking forever, and 27 people think it’s worth retweeting to their own followers.
Like, who’s the target audience here? There’s a weird subculture of people, partly on Twitter but especially on LinkedIn, who seem addicted to some kind of entrepreneur idolatry. Any kind of bland statement like the above is treated as divinely received wisdom. You’ve seen the kind of thing I mean, like a witty one-liner from Bill Gates or Richard Branson, as if success in business comes from knowing the correct adages, rather than a combination of hard work and extreme luck. It’s really depressing seeing people you just know will never become millionaires sharing quotes from millionaires about how, if they just think about things in the right way, they too could become millionaires.
That’s not how it works. People don’t get rich by repeating quotes. Like look at this –
“The only way to prove that you’re a good sport is to lose.”– Ernie Banks
What’s the point of this? Why does any of this content exist? And there’s just so much of it. The majority of @Brand’s tweets are just meaningless quotes.
It’s so depressing that stuff like this does well. Meanwhile my great posts about funny signs I’ve seen or puns on current events never do well.
Oh, and if your wounds aren’t salted enough already, @Brand is VERIFIED. Yup, Twitter decided that this account is the real deal. Despite the fact that @Brand isn’t representing anyone or anything, Twitter want you to know that it’s legit. Sigh.
A clue to understanding what’s going on here is that the account is run by this chap: John Rampton. He’s a founder of some payments provider, so very much falls into ‘the sort of person who has a large following of people who hang on your every word hoping they too can learn the secrets to success’. What kind of content does he put out there?
"Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness." Frank Tyger
Maybe I should just start tweeting ONLY quotes. Like that tweet there has done better than anything I’ve ever done. Tweets photoshopped onto mountains. With a Twitter bio that the world’s greatest team of forensic linguists wouldn’t be able to unravel. Is this what we want to see on Twitter?
Remember when that dentist killed Cecil the lion in 2015?
I’d almost forgotten about it. The killing of Harambe sort of became the go-to unnecessary animal death that we all thought about instead.
But the killing of Cecil was different. When Cecil was shot, people went NUTS. Not just because an animal died, but because we had a human to blame. In the Harambe case, the zookeeper was just doing their duty – we might not agree with their decision, but Harambe wasn’t killed out of selfishness. Not so with Cecil.
Cecil was killed by dentist Walter Palmer as part of a recreational (and subsequently deemed illegal by Zimbabwean authorities) big-game hunt. Basically he flew out and killed a lion – who turned out to actually be a famous lion in the conservation world. Uh-oh.
The internet went ballistic, with everyone suddenly remembering that big-game hunting is still a thing that happens in the world today. It didn’t die out with Ernest Hemingway.
The backlash against Walter Palmer followed the usual lines of the Twitter outrage machine. He was publicly shamed, his privacy invaded, and his workplace picketed.
I have no idea if the dentist’s practice – River Bluff Dental – is still operating. Google does list its opening hours still, but I can’t find a functioning website or social media page for it. I’d wager it’s just keeping a low profile. What I can find are reviews people have left for it on Google.
It’s a form of protest I haven’t seen before. Not just slating the person online, or holding up signs outside their workplace, but leaving them bad reviews online. But since there are also genuine dental patients there leaving reviews, it ends up reading like the most insane dental practice ever. Observe –
From a 5* review of one of the doctors there, to a 1* calling the owner a murderer. Quite the mixed bag.
If you were trying to pick a new dentist, what would you make of the above? Well, some people are saying he’s a murderer. But on the other hand, he gets some good reviews. It’s like reading reviews for an Italian place that reads “Best lasagne in town! Also the owner denies the Holocaust. 3.5 stars.”
Let’s read some more.
These two are interesting. Polly seems to be giving a genuine bad review of the place. But this is in the midst of all the hate-reviews coming in. Is she possibly a fraud? Greg seems to think so! His comment is a meta-review of the other comments, suggesting that they’re not all legitimate. But then he himself gives the place two stars for no obvious reason. Why did you do that, Greg? WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Deub EEBRAB making the chilling claim that Palmer actively murders animals in his workplace. This goes beyond the established facts. He killed a lion in Zimbabwe. Still, huge if true.
Who exactly is Erika meant to be quoting here? This reads like they should be quotes from his website or something. But they’re not. You can’t just put criticism of someone in quotes. That doesn’t “mean anything.”
There’s a couple of these too. Clearly angry protest reviews that still give the place more than one star. Like Rutofni here. He clearly disagrees with Walter on the value of animal lives. And yet he can’t find it in himself to give River Bluff Dental the full 1*. I wonder what earned the second star?
And this one just gets it entirely wrong. If you’re calling for someone’s arrest, DON’T GIVE THEM FIVE STARS. It only encourages them.
So many of these are sarcastic you forget there are some genuine bad reviews in the mix too.
To be honest, I’m pretty impressed people are still doing this, so long removed from when it all went down. What reminded Salvador and Greer here to go and leave a review? I’d love to know.
As businesses rely more and more on good Yelp/TripAdvisor reviews, it’ll be interesting to see how this form of protest develops. It has hints of online slacktivism in that you don’t have to do anything beyond pressing a button and writing some nasty words. But it has an additional layer of malice about it, in that you’re also trying to destroy someone’s livelihood. We should probably remember that other completely innocent dentists worked at River Bluff Dental too.
And of course, we should remember the lion who had to die for one man’s sick pleasure.
(PS. Don’t forget you can replay the last days of Harambe as an interactive text adventure – written by me! – here).