.

19 November 2008

Sometimes Twitter frivolity memes are catching

Occasionally a completely frivolous meme goes viral on Twitter for no apparent reason and then dies away just as suddenly. And since, as is often said, all origins are obscure nobody really knows what sparked it (although some might have theories).

A good example of this phenomenon occurred this afternoon (mainly seemed to be east coast Aussies) with the rapid evolution of the #TUBWARS meme.

Now to put this in context there are groups called "TUBs" or Twitter Underground Brigades, where groups of tweeps meetup in real life and socialize. BTW, I've just updated the Twitter page on wikipedia to reflect the unwarranted exclusion of TUBs from that page.

For no known reason several new Twitter names were created:
@jpfTUB
@pfjTUB
@jpfTUB
@darthTUB
@egoTUB
@tweeterTUB
@reTUB
@tubbyTUB
and there are probably more by now ...

Then whole lot of silliness happened (I went a bit LOLspearian with:"@kcarruthers cry havoc & let slip teh dawgs of #TUBWARS") jokes were flying and everyone was being humourous. The whole thing went on for a few hours with enough traffic that the tag #TUBWARS trended on search & then the activity died away.

It is just like one of those times when the entire office picks up a joke or funny saying and runs around saying it all day. Again, Twitter reveals itself to be completely hostage to human nature.

UPDATE: Based on comment by Ben have found the spark to the entire thing was creation @fuSTUB a splinter movement against/out of (?) @STUB - and there is a summary of that traffic here

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

4 comments:

Nick Hodge said...

life is too short to be too serious.

epic lulz

Ben said...

AFAICT, it began when someone made @fustub.

WorldHarmony said...

You say that "Twitter reveals itself to be completely hostage to human nature," but lets consider that human nature is influenced by Twitter.

Your example of memes shows this. They exist because of the ability of Twitter to collect tweet stats. Once people realized they could count how many times a word is repeated, among other statistics, they began to make use of that ability. That is Twitter influencing human behavior.

Three examples to show that memes aren't mysterious:
1) "Memes" can work like flash mobs do: people decide to make a word popular by agreeing to mention it in as many tweets possible. The amusing payoff is seeing it capture the attention of the general Twitter public (or even the mainstream media).
2) Some "memes" are marketing events. These are planned in advance for a particular day, and the trending phrase catches people's attention, stirring up interest in a product or service.
3) And of course, sometimes "memes" arise just because participants notice that they are creating a popular term and so they keep repeating it- silly fun.

So we can say that Twitter is hostage to human nature but the things people decide to do on Twitter are definitely influenced by the features it offers. It's a two way street.

Now, can you guess what kind of sociologist I am by what I just said? LOL!!

Ben Winter-Giles said...

life is certainly way too short not to have fun. Seriously, we ARE hoomans, and perhaps this is just the online equivalent of going on a pub crawl, and nicking a pint glass from each bar we go to.