The Tweet Police Are Coming For Us All

by SUSANNAH LONG · April 29, 2010

The Times has an article on the crisis we live with daily, namely the "grammar and taste vigilantes" who plague twitter. The best part of the article is that they interviewed frequent target Jon Cusack at length. (Summary: Lloyd Dobler does not like Twitter Fascists.) The second best part is that now we have new time-wasters . . . albeit deeply flawed ones.-

As PCMag editor Lance Ulanoff tells the Times, "There's always this sarcastic humor pervading Twitter, where people will see something that someone has posted quite innocently, and they’ll respond to it in such a way that just is like a slap" A quick jaunt through Tweeting Too Hard, one of the tweet-snark sites listed in the NYT,  shows that, while some of the tweets are veritably asstastic, the inclusion of others is just, well, misguided.

The number one "self-important tweet" on TTH is:

OMG i was saying how i couldn't afford the gas to fly daddy's jet to the riviera this summer, and this barista totally rolled her eyes at me @babesmcphee

A quick click over to the Real McCoy reveals that Babesmcphee is some sort of actress/teacher/freelance writer. Conclusion: We're pretty sure that tweet was a joke. Sure, Babes seems to be a frequent tweeter and blogger who compulsively overshares, but that hardly sets her apart from anyone else in interblag circles. To tweet is to overshare. You can't blame a girl simply for making a couple cracks or telling everyone way too much about her latest writing project.

Another popular too-hard tweet is

I'm going to stop carrying a photo ID. Want to know why? People should know me. @marymassey

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. . . which is a Sue Sylvester quote from "Glee." Yes, we recognized it immediately. Don't judge. On the other hand:

I have better credit than the nation of Greece. @rynechua

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. . . is actually true, because everyone has better credit than the nation of Greece right now.

Still, we'll forever be grateful to Jacob Morse, the cantankerous Texan who runs TTH, for calling out seemingly earnest facepalm tweets like these:

nice compliment from Sting's voice coach to me "You're like him, you have a lot of internal awareness, know things." (I can rock that...:) @marymichaela

I gave my cleaning lady a raise today, even though she didn't ask, as my own little contribution to fighting the recession. @brettschulte

As flattered as I am, you're getting no closer to my friend list. @specialdelia

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(Although we must admit, the boobish profile pic predisposes us against Miss SpecialDelia.)

Right, there's a large glass of cognac (£800-per-bottle) and a plate of cold sausages, waiting for me to take them to bed. Night all @twittlejohn

Ladies, always remember: presents aren't promises, and kisses aren't contracts @la_hwang

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Gross.

Of course, Morse himself brag-tweeted about being able to cross having his picture in the NYT off his bucket list. Perhaps the lesson to take away from the Tweet Police is that we're all hungry for a chance to boast and grandstand. For example, it's hard to imagine that Nate Fanaro, who goes by CapsCop online and has written a computer program that identifies all-caps tweets and then sends a harsh reply automatically, is going to all that trouble just for the love of Strunk & White. Nope, he likes attention too, even from unlikely sources. As do we all, friends, as do we all.