Tall people really stink. According to research carried out at the University of Otterglans, Idaho, which is a real university and a real place that I’ve just made up, which means that the research probably doesn’t exist either, tall people are statistically more likely to absolutely stink.
I mean it. Or do I? It doesn’t matter – the main thing is, if you are tall or one of those liberal snowflakes that saw a tall person once, you will be offended, and will leave outraged comments underneath this blog entry, so we can have a debate about this, which (don’t forget) is based on something specious that I invented simply to provoke and enrage you.
This is how the news works now. And, although I have really tried not to discuss Twitter on this blog so far, it’s increasingly how Twitter works. About two years ago, when professional trolls had already become the rotten meat and pissy drink of the service, I decided to conduct a part-time experiment, to see just how they liked it if you tried to distract them, or insulted them, or badgered them, or simply laughed at them and took the piss out of them.
What I didn’t do was actually argue with them. There’s no point arguing with them, partly because of the limited character space on Twitter, but also because their argument is frequently based on lies. Lying is what you do now. The so-called President of the United States does it. The Leaves campaign did it last summer and still do it. Tabloids do it every day. So there’s no point wasting energy trying to engage in discussion, because they just want a reaction.
The first person I trolled was third-class brain Toby Young. I asked him ‘what night is bins’ quite a lot (hence the title of this blog) because of some stoopid column he’d written. Since then, I’ve bothered everyone from 90s radio oaf Jon Gaunt (who now looks like Kenny Rogers disguised as a neglected hill), to gelled wanker Milo Yiannopoulos (asking him his favourite Pacman Ghost), to that masked recruitment douche Old Holborn (it’s easy to find out that coward’s real name).
And many of them blocked me. You can see the full list at the top of this blog post, although technically Aled Jones blocked me because he searched his name after I was rude about his barely broadcastable TV review show for BBC2. The rest are all deliberate, conscious wind-ups. (And before you ask: Hopkins, Farage, Morgan, Hannan and a few others have surely muted me.)
Is this a thing to be proud of, in the cold light of day? Perhaps debatable. While I am thrilled to have annoyed several Sun staff, including its editor-in-chief, showbiz hack, political editor and even its entire politics twitter feed, is it energy well spent? Probably not. But I hate bullies, especially when they’re paid bullies.
Ignore them. That’s what you’re told. And it’s true that taking the piss out of them is still engaging with them. But the point is, they are going to carry on doing this because they will lie and yet they will still get mainstream exposure. And reporting them is almost always a fruitless exercise.
And then this week, I discovered that – according to Twitter rules – you can be spectacularly racist and misogynistic and bully people and troll the grieving and vulnerable and Twitter seems to do very little. But if you call a professional troll a ‘cunt’, you get a warning immediately, which explains that only your followers can see your tweets for the next 12 hours. It’s not clear if the word itself triggers an automated response, or if someone complains. But the warning pops up with immediate effect, which leads me to conclude it’s automated.
This morning I did the same to Nigel Farage, who claimed that Malmo was ‘the rape capital of Europe’, presumably another piece of research from the Otterglans team. So I told him to ‘cunt off, you ashen liar’. I’ve dreamed up better insults, I know (for instance when I called him ‘a grasping dead-eyed toad of shit’), but I stand by it. And I appreciate that not everyone likes the c-word, even though according to research at the University of Otterglans, it is by far the best, most effective swear word. The point is, his tweet – extremely unpleasant, and designed purely to stir up ‘debate’ – is allowed to stand. My response seemingly is not. Which leads me to wonder: are people cautioned for insulting the disabled, for racist language, for Nazi support?
And this is where I wonder where we are going with this toxic atmosphere of provocation, that apparently as long as you can have an argument about it, that’s healthy, oh and also it’s lots of traffic on Twitter. What is the point of having an argument based on something that is specious? Isn’t that a waste of breath? Because Nigel just does it to get people to ring his shit radio show. And having James O’Brien on the same station, by the way, is not balance, LBC.
I keep being told that once you tell someone to ‘fuck off’, you’ve lost the argument. But what if there is no argument to have because the premise is bollocks or needlessly inflammatory? Then you have to spend a lot of unpaid time presenting evidence which they won’t read anyway, proving beyond doubt that Otterglans isn’t a real place.
I have two basic Twitter rules. Be polite, because after all many people I come across are lovely, and interesting, and funny. But if they’re a git, you are allowed to tell them to go fuck themselves. Because according to extensive study at the University of Otterglans, telling them they’re a‘ cunt’ and to ‘go fuck themselves’ does officially mean you have won the argument. And if your opponent protests that decision, you are allowed to cite this blogpost as official evidence.
Next week: why brown bread is more dangerous to our national security than white bread.