Mr Grumpy and some thoughts on the use of twitter.

I am sure that many of you who have come across me on twitter- @overhere1 and @overhere3- think I am just a grumpy old man, too old to be mixing with the twitterati. I am certainly becoming increasingly irritated by a number of twitter practices so I thought I would just put all my complaints in one blog post and have done.

Before I start though, I would like to make it clear that I think that twitter is a wonderful thing and anyone should use it in whatever many they wish. These are not rules that I think everyone should follow- really all it is is my personal view on, well it comes down to politeness mainly…..

I welcome any comments of course….

Follow Me, Follow You….

Some tweeters proudly promise that if I follow them, they will follow me back. Guaranteed. Whilst we all need a certain amount of unconditional love,  I am not expecting to find it on twitter. And if you fill up your bio with this promise, it leaves you less room to tell us why we should really follow you, what you have to offer by way of content….

Empty Tweets (1)

Critics of twitter point to the number of ” I woke up this morning and had a cup of coffee”  messages and used this to dismiss twitter as a frivolous pastime. I actually enjoy these mundane tweets; I feel like I am sharing the daily routine of people across at least one continent. And these mundane tweets have led to some interesting conversations which go much deeper. That’s not what I mean by empty tweets.

No, an empty tweet is one which takes you nowhere, does not evoke a mood, a situation or passes on information.

An empty tweet is of the type: ” follow @abc he’s a really good laugh and dead interesting.” (OK, substitute she for he if you want, but, admit it, it’s mainly us blokes who go for empty tweeting..)

No, this is how it works. If your mate is that interesting, RT one of their pearls of wisdom and, if  I enjoy it, I check out their timeline and decide whether to follow them or not. Simple. Down to content again…

Having said that, there is a genuine forum on twitter for recommending people  and that is the


I don’t #ff very often but when I do, I like to make each one personal,giving a reason why I think you might be interested, and based on recent activity. I received one recently which said ” follow @overhere1 because he has some interesting things to say about politics” (or something like that.) I appreciated that because it was personal and specific. Hopefully it lead to a few of their followers checking out what I had to say.

On the otherhand, I had a #ff from someone I had expressly and pointedly unfollowed. Presumably I had remained on someone’s automated list of people to #ff. That meant nothing to me and showed that the person was #ff-ing without any thought.

Empty Tweets 2 (Penis Dimension.)

I used to get loads of spam emails promising me a larger penis. Do these emails still exist?  Anyway, the sites promising to increase the number of your followers remind me of these emails. They might but what’s the point? Well go ahead if it makes you feel good, more powerful, more significant. But what do you do with, or learn from, these additional followers?

Some, whilst not resorting to 3rd parties, try to stimulate their own growth by exhorting people to follow them. ” Only x followers until I reach y number of followers! Please follow.” A local tweeter has amassed a huge number of followers and I ask myself: Why?

I reckon at least half my loyal band of followers actually follow me because, occasionally I have something interesting to say to them. The rest are unsolicited bots and misinterpreters of my tweets.

(BTW, at time of writing, I am only 6 followers away from my 261st follower. You know what to do….)

Ad Hominem

There is a danger on twitter that you only ever communicate with people who share the same views as you, all the time. This is natural, but twitter provides a great way to get out of your comfort zone and engage in genuine argument (discussion). Unfortunately this often descends into personal attacks rather than debate.

I recently posted my views on the politics surrounding the awarding of the Thameslink contract to Seimens rather than Bombardier- a big topic locally. Two people posted their disagreement but rather than attacking me personally they stated that they disagreed and said why. In my view this is how it should be: benefit from other peoples’ views and learn or agree to differ. If you feel like calling someone a fucking idiot- as I have done- stay away and move on. Personal attacks are an admission of defeat.

Credit Where Credit is Due.

To my mind, the greatest act of impoliteness is not giving due credit to fellow tweeters. There is one person who uses a #tag that I follow constantly, who is amassing followers and getting retweets even though they have not produced a single original tweet. They do this by repeating news from the written press or other tweeters without ever giving credit. People who have not been following the #tag, believing this tweet is original, then retweet. And so the myth of their knowledge , and the number of their followers, grows. It is common courtesy in my view to RT or MT (modified tweet) or even just to add via @

I wonder if those most reluctant to provide credits are also those who send the most number of empty tweets…..?

Where’s the evidence? (OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Someone tweets that “OMG, x has happened at y and z is involved!!!!” Nothing to back this up. If it is believable enough, this gets retweeted and before you know it, some lazy journalist has blogged it. It then becomes an “unconfirmed report ” in the national press and, if it suits the narrative of the day, this becomes fact.

Recently, this has been evident in the coverage of the #arabspring. I have been an avid bystander as the events in the Middle East and North Africa have unfolded and have hovered over the rt button on many occasion. “Gunshots have been heard in change square.” By whom? From who? At who?  Where’s the evidence?  Twitter is a fantastic conduit for information; equally it is a fantastic means of mis/dis information.

So, my gripes are aired and- for now- that is all. We don’t need rules and governance; with a bit of politeness we can manage for ourselves.

Thank you. (Please feel free to comment and disagree….. politely of course.


Can I add: Let’s get this trending!

Why? what does it do?  In my experience, trending topics will emerge and only rarely are they of interest. Just had a  “let’s get #britishbrands trending” tweet. Again I ask; Why?

And the same goes with Online petitions.  What do they achieve? Possibly they assuage our guilt at not doing anything in our real lives… but other than that… Let’s not confuse this with real democracy and a real say in how others rule our lives..

Twitter can aid in disseminating information but it seems more and more to be used to promote not discuss..




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5 responses to “Mr Grumpy and some thoughts on the use of twitter.”

  1. Sean Williams says :

    Well done Mr G – couldn’t agree more. Which in itself may be a first for Twitter!

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