The Premier League finale brought out Twitter’s churlish side

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 14 May 2012

It was a really lovely sunny weekend, and so on Sunday I went out for a weekend stroll around Hyde Park. I noticed lots of people had set up picnics and were eating outside in the sunshine. They all seemed to be enjoying it, and chatting about how much they were enjoying it, and how amazing it all was.

I hate picnics. Can’t seen the point of them. Why eat outside when you’ve got perfectly good tables and chairs indoors, and anyway, you could be doing something else entirely?

So I stomped round Hyde Park interjecting into people’s conversations: “Can’t see the point of this. Enjoying yourself are you? There are much better ways to eat food. All this talking about picnics is pointless.”

Well, of course I didn’t do that at the weekend. I mean, that would be a bit silly and pointless wouldn’t it? It would make me look like some kind of churl.

No, what I actually did was watch the climax of the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, whilst having my Twitter client open. And I saw a lot of people behaving remarkably like my silly idea of spoiling people’s picnics.

The thing is, when Twitter gets gripped with something that is a cultural event, it can easily dominate your timeline. If you are not interested in that event, whether it is the X-Factor or Question Time or a sporting event, given that your timeline is made up of people that you have voluntarily followed talking about what interests and excites them, you’ve basically got four choices:

  1. Try and get into the thing, even if only in an achingly ironic way.
  2. Ignore tweets about it, thinking that ultimately all things must pass. Including pop culture hashtags.
  3. Make like “Why don’t you?” did in the seventies, and just switch off your Twitter client and go out and do something less boring instead.
  4. Start mouthing off that you don’t like the popular thing, and can’t see why anyone would.

Doing the latter is basically the Twitter equivalent of logging into a news website just to leave the comment “How is this even news?”

And nobody thinks that is witty or clever...

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