Witty tweets beat twitty bleats on Twitter
As fossil fuels dwindle and we struggle to feed a hungry population, the world faces a new shortage. As we speak, implausibly rugged scientists are being taken by chopper to a secret bunker while Robert Redford does his best to convince an old special forces type to leave his forest cabin for one last job.
They told us the supply wouldn’t last. “Ration it out,” they told us, “there’s plenty to go around”, but we didn’t listen.
That’s right, because of our greed and refusal to acknowledge the finite nature of our resources, the world has run out of Charlie Sheen jokes.
Like locusts, we set upon the #winning trend, relentlessly mining comedy gold and stripping it bare. It seems so long ago now that an anonymous pioneer raised his iPad above his head in triumph.
“Eureka!” he shouted, “I have successfully linked Charlie Sheen to cocaine using the slangism ‘Charlie’ and the fact that he is widely believed to consume various narcotics.” Just as the apes in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece danced giddily around that giant liquorice stick thing, so too did we swarm around #winning.
Twitter – that thing that young people do in between drugs and arson - has given birth to a new phenomenon: crowd-sourced comedy. Everyone’s a comedian. This is where Twitter distinguishes itself from its social media cousins.
Facebook encourages rambling, over-sharing and pointless observations about mundane things. Twitter, through the way it’s structured, punishes these things. The 140-character limit forces users to be concise, careful about punctuation and, most importantly, to have an actual point.
In its current form, Twitter places emphasis on words, not pictures. It is, in essence, a tool to sound cleverer than others. The “hashtag” and trending topics system means every person is perpetually locked in a battle of wits with 170 million others. Professional comedians such as Stephen Colbert must be sharper than ever, lest they be schooled by some sassy 14-year-old in Moscow.
The #winning trend is the perfect example. Re-appropriated by Charlie Sheen himself during a series of wild-eyed rants and online cooking shows, the word “winning” became the anchor of an endless stream of jokes at his expense.
#Winning became the starting line of a frenzied 24-hour race. More than 100 million people waited at the starting blocks several times a day for the starter gun that was Charlie Sheen. “I’m bi-winning”, Go! “Adonis DNA”, bang! “Tiger blood”, And they’re off! The rattling of keyboards rang out across the planet as truckies, lawyers, teachers, bankers and Charlie Sheen frantically tried to create the perfect Charlie Sheen joke.
Lame puns and spam drifted off-screen and into oblivion while sharper efforts rose to the top of the page, claiming the title “Top Tweet”. It was like watching jungle plants entwine and suffocate each other in a race to the canopy.
A handful of re-tweets has become the digital equivalent of a warm round of applause. Then, of course, there is that ultimate pat on the back – the celebrity re-tweet. While hecklers are generally ignored, Twitter users who contribute charm and wit to a conversation are sometimes rewarded by established names with a re-tweet. Having basked in their sliver of sunlight, they return to their regular lives.
The result of this exhausting process is the evolution of comedy. Each joke moves along a conveyor belt where it is quality-tested by millions of workers and either discarded or elevated to premium status. Charlie Sheen reportedly selects his “goddesses” using a similar method.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…