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The Horrible Tweet and how to outsource your gossip on the Internet


by Holly O'Neill
24th Mar 2021
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On Wednesday, Twitter was gripped and bifurcated. People were tweeting about the most horrible tweet they had ever seen, and everyone else was tweeting asking what the tweet was.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
“You’ll regret it.”
“Count yourself lucky.”
“The user is banned now, thankfully, so you won’t have to see it.”

Or else:

“What is it?”
“Is it a prank people are playing?”
“Please DM it to me.”
“I must absolutely see it.”

Eventually, the people who had seen it would tweet, “trust me, you don’t want to know,” and everyone who still didn’t know was inflamed with a deeper urge to see this most vile, emetic of tweets – truly saying something on Twitter, the place where joy and sense goes to die.

After sleuthing in quote tweets and likes for a few minutes, the tweet was found. I felt a bit dirty for searching it out, but the thought of what it might be was a lot worse than what it was.

Did you find the tweet yet? Well, let me explain it to you. In retrospect, I would have preferred to have it explained to me rather than the shame wave of not being satiated until I had actually clicked to ‘view sensitive material.’ It’s a picture of a mass card of an old lady, with – well, jizz on it. Sorry, I’ve checked the IMAGE Style Guide and we don’t have any rules on the word. Ejaculate sounds too scientific, cum too porny, so I’m going to go with jizz, which is suitably juvenile enough to not make me uncomfortable to write it and hopefully not make you uncomfortable to read it. Jizz then, on a mass card with a picture of an old lady, and a caption saying something along the lines of, “ooh sorry, I’ve jizzed on your mum.”

Not even nearly the worst tweet I’ve ever seen, but maybe I’ve lurked in the Internet’s darkness for too long, and women are, unfortunately, painfully dulled to being exposed to unwanted sexual accoutrements online. We all die, we all jizz, this is just an uncomfortable overlapping of the two. Unless I am missing some fundamental background character plotline to The Horrible Tweet, I took it as an accidentally placed jizz and not a malicious intent one.

But the grip with which this secret tweet took hold of the Internet is a paragon of a nation starved of gossip. Not scandal, we’ve had enough of that. Just gossip – harmless, banal, stupid human goings-on. It’s also a combination of two things that grip and fascinate Irish more than anything else – sex and death, our favourite subjects. Who it’s happening too, who’s doing it or might be, how, and where and why and when. The minutiae is paramount to the story (“he used to be married to your one” / “she had a fall”) and it’s this detail that is missing in the pandemic, the raised eyebrow that can’t be communicated by WhatsApp, the whispered “go on” over a cup of tea. As my colleague Megan Burns puts it, “there’s certainly something wonderful about mildly scandalous details of someone else’s life.” If finding The Horrible Tweet gripped you like nothing has in months, the below resources are where you can get your fix.

@JTFIRSTMAN
Jordan Firstman is a TV writer and Instagram comedian and impressionist, turned pandemic social media star. You might know him from the viral song he wrote about Laura Dern performed by the Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles at the Independent Spirit Awards or the viral, ludicrous impressions (such as Banana Bread’s Publicist) that reveal some meaningful, silly secret part of yourself. Every few weeks, on Instagram Stories, he opens up an anonymous chatbox for his 875k followers to DM him their deepest secrets. “Tell me a secret and I’ll post it anonymously and it will be cathartic for you because you’ll have said it to the world but no one will know it’s you,” he writes, and people do it. He comments on the secrets, then at the end, cleanses all of their guilt. Some secrets that I don’t have to check the IMAGE Style Guide for as they’re mainly sexual: “I catfished my boyfriend on Tinder to catch him cheating,” “got pregnant by a Holocaust denier,” “I steal my grandpa’s marijuana” and “I feed my cat my earwax.”

@DEUXMOI
The Instagram following of @deuxmoi, now at 826k, has also erupted since lockdown began. The scandal all happens in Instagram Stories, which are filled daily with crowd-sourced celebrity gossip – think photographs of the Olsen twins having dinner in a New York restaurant, or DMs from someone who served Harry Styles in a coffee shop this morning telling what his coffee order is. The most recent thrilling crowdsourced gossip showed Pete Davidson, Ariana Grande’s ex, being photographed with fans in Manchester. He was rumoured to be visiting Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dyvenor in her family home, meaning Ariana Grande’s ex was probably having a cup of tea with Gail Platt. If that information doesn’t stir your soul, then leave now because there is nothing more for you here.

CRAZY DAYS AND NIGHTS
Crazy Days and Nights is a website that looks like the Internet before Facebook existed – it’s all bad graphics, ugly design, pop-up ads and tiny font. It’s run by an anonymous blogger, who is supposedly a well-connected entertainment lawyer, who posts cryptic, scandalous messages several times a day about anonymous celebrities, such as “A-list director” and a rumour. The subjects of the rumours are sometimes revealed on the site and then appear later in the tabloids. In the meantime, in the comments, users try to guess from the clues who the scandal is about.

THE POPBITCH NEWSLETTER
If these trivial celebrity stories are not trivial enough for you, you’re going to love the Popbitch newsletter. Every Thursday, Popbitch send an email to your inbox with the most eccentric celebrity details, old stories about celebrities who are currently in the news, normal people’s wildest encounters with celebrities and insider’s secrets. The latest email includes details of the personal bodily fluids Sharon Osbourne has allegedly sent to her enemies and the detail: ‘Prince Charles’ nickname among friends growing up was “Trump”.’

Photography by Unsplash.

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