Friday, March 27, 2009

When Twitter Gets Weird...

So... I've been genuinely enjoying Twitter. If I'm at my desk it's a pleasing distraction and a nice way of answering quick questions, um, quickly...

Of course I use it to follow other people too. Some are people I know. Some are people I'm a fan of. And some are people who I've discovered since I've been on twitter.

But yesterday I had two people contact me to tell me that I was rude for not following them. How not-following someone can be rude is quite beyond me. So I asked. And their point was that they were following me and that it was therefore only polite for me to follow them back because unless I did that I wasn't being interactive.

Which seems to me to be a false definition of what interactivity really is. In what way would clicking a button to say I was following someone be actually interacting with them? At the moment I follow between 200 and 300 people. When I log on I normally find there are between 10 and 20 posts for me to look at from the last 5 minutes of activity. But I'm followed by over 20,000 people. If I followed all of them, there would be a hundred times as many recent posts to review. There would be no way of me actually reading - or even meaningfully scanning - 1000 to 2000 posts every 5 minutes.

And how would I find the posts from the 200+ people I've chosen to follow? Surely they'd be lost in the tidal wave of noise. The assumption that following is in some way polite seems to me to be a complete misunderstanding of the Twitter interface. Asymmetry is built in to it. Which doesn't make it a one way street because, regardless of whether someone is actually following you, you're still able to send them a tweet.

I could choose to follow everyone who follows me. It might make some of them feel good in the short term. But surely it would be apparent that in such large numbers following is effectively meaningless... so it would be nothing more than a token, empty gesture... and what would the point of that be?

When I tried to explain that, some people got in touch and suggested that I could 'follow' everyone but use the filtering system of something like Tweetdeck to ferret out only the tweets from people I was actually interested in.

Which I think meant they were telling me they'd be happy if I pretended to follow them but then used technology to ignore them in favour of other people. What? So not only would they rather I pretended to follow them they wanted to explain to me how this dishonest artifice could easily be achieved.

The argument is that if I (or anyone else with a lot of followers) don't follow loads of people back then it's obvious that my use of Twitter is purely selfish and self-promotional. I think they've got that completely arse about tit. Twitter works in two ways. Obviously. 1) You send. 2) You receive.
If I follow so many people as to effectively make the receiving part unusable then I'm not being more interactive, I'm being less so because if receiving is rendered useless I'm effectively admitting that I'm only interested in using the send part of the equation. Wouldn't giving 20,000 people an essentially meaningless pat on the back and the false sense of being followed actually be more self-promotional than using the service to find the things you want to find?

Holy Moly - the unofficial, Official Gossip Kings of the UK - perpetuated the idea that following=interactivity today by publishing a top 40 list of "Celebrities who love themselves." Essentially they divided the number of people each sleb is following by the number of followers they had and the people with the biggest discrepancies were, in their view, the least interactive and therefore the biggest tools.

Now I reckon that a better measure of how interactive someone is, would be to see how much they, um, interact with people. Y'know... like actual interaction. Like, maybe replying to people. After all, any of the people who follow me are able to tweet me. And many do. Wouldn't answering those tweets be more, y'know, interactive than just pretending to be interested in them by nominally following them all? If you were at a party, would the most interactive person be the one with the largest number of numbers in their phone or the one who chatted with the most people?

As it goes there's a way of finding out how much people reply. There's a site called that allows you to check it out. At time of writing I can tell you that I've replied to 77.34% of the tweets I've received and - at risk of sounding cliched, here's the graph to prove it.

Now Tweets arrive when I'm not online and I don't scroll back to see everything that's arrived in my absence so I reckon that's pretty interactive.

So how does Holy Moly compare? Well, as I enjoy Holy Moly I follow HolyMolyNews and I can tell you that at time of writing they have 4376 followers and they follow 3647 people. So they follow a whopping 83% as many people as follow them. But if you tweet them what chance do you have of getting a reply? Only 17.12% Which by my reckoning makes them woefully lacking in interactivity.

Now I don't have any axe to grind with Holy Moly - I often like what they do - but they're definitely wrong that the number of people you follow is any kind of meaningful metric as to how interactive you are on Twitter.

But back to the two correspondents who started this discussion with me. One of them had started a campaign to 'unfollow' people who didn't follow them back. And once you start a campaign it's very hard to back down. It's a proven scientific fact* that anyone who's painted a placard is unable to admit that they're wrong. So while I reasoned with the two of them (and indeed even in replying to them about the issue I was being more interactive than I would have been by agreeing to follow them) they maintained the argument.

After a while I decided it was obviously not going to be resolved to their satisfaction, that my @Replies list was being clogged up with tweets from two unhappy fans and that other, more friendly and rational questions were getting overlooked as a result of the attention they were getting. I also got the impression they were enjoying winding me - and others - up with their determined tweets. In other words, I thought they were trolling. So, as they were clearly not happy with me for not following them and their starting point had been to threaten to 'unfollow' me unless I complied and followed them I decided to make everyone's lives easier and block them.

Inevitably this wound them up more. One of them - a man in his 30s no less - decided that he now hated me and everything I'd ever done. He starting tweeting to the world that I was a paedophile. He vandalised at least one website to change the content to suggest I was a paedophile. 24 hours earlier he was a self-professed fan of mine who wanted me to follow him... and now he hates my face, my hair, my work, my clothes, my voice and everything I've ever done. He decided to complain to the BBC about me and suggested that writing to the Daily Mail to suggest I was a paedophile would be a fun idea. It's almost as if his opinion is made up on the spot because if he really does hate every single thing I've ever done and every fibre of my being I really can't imagine why he followed me in the first place or why he wanted me to follow him. If I'd followed him he'd think I was brilliant. But I didn't so I'm therefore the embodiment of everything evil and wrong in the world. Can't help thinking that the way he's reacted has rather proved me right though.

I'm being glib. Now. Last night it was genuinely depressing - and vaguely distressing - being on the receiving end of so much spewing hatred. All because I decided to block a stranger who randomly decided to harass me for not even pretending to follow him.

Today has been a better day. As with the world, the vast majority of people are lovely and Twitter has been a friendly place today.

But I hope Twitter doesn't turn into Myspace with all that 'thanks for the add' nonsense. It's not a competition to collect as many friends as possible. And anyone who follows thousands and thousands of people can't actually be following them can they? So relax. And interact. I mean really interact.

The difference between following someone and replying to them is the difference between stopping to chat with someone in the street or giving them a badge declaring that you know them. One is actual interaction. The other is just something you can show your friends.

*Not a proven scientific fact.


Judith said...

This is social networking gone mad! I don't use any of these sites, so the only similar thing I have encountered is on Flickr where people have thousands of 'contacts' whose pictures they can't possibly look at let alone appreciate. I would never expect anyone to add me as a contact because I add them - it's a very personal choice, not something to be expected. I prefer to keep my contacts list for people who I appreciate and comment on from time to time (you being one of them incidentally), rather than a massive list of people I never interact with. So, stick to your guns. Use places like Twitter in the way i believe they were intended - for making genuine connections with interesting people.

Anonymous said...

Dave - please don't let the trolls get you down.


James I said...

Just for that, I'm going to follow you. And watch Genius, which has just started.

That'll learn to speak sense.

warriorgrrl said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you and I'm really pleased you've shared this with us. Trolls are everywhere, it seems, and I hope the guy who's been bombarding you with misplaced vitriol comes to his senses soon...or takes a nice long walk in the real world.

Regarding Tweet Stats, I think the graph relating to Replies or @'s is actually pointing out what percentage of your total tweets are replies / @'s as opposed to what percentage of @ tweets from other people you reply to. I wish there *was* something that told you how much you're keeping up with peoples' @'s to you, it'd be useful for gauging interactivity, as you've said here.

Keep doing what you're doing Dave - you're great at it.

eric the fish said...

Yeh, I added Dave as a contact on Flickr and he didn't reciprocate so now I'm gonna take down some of the smaller photos from the Dave Gorman room in my home.

Tim from Bloggerheads also seemed to get targeted by a nutter making claims about sex crimes and the Daily Mail.

Genius idea.

If you are tired of being told off for putting your feet up on the train seat opposite, why not take your own cushion covers with you. Then when the foot fascists or Nike Nazis (copyright Richard Littlejohn)kick off and say 'Would you do that home on your own sofa' you can claim the day and gain the respect of your fellow passengers.

@rachelclarke said...

I wrote a similar rant:

Basically, it's about people telling me how to use Twitter. They need to just stop! Everyone's use is different and no-one should mandate how anyone should use it.

No-one's ever had a go at me though for not following - I make it clear in the profile that it is rare I do that if I don't know them. But I have little public profile, so I guess they don't feel like they own a part of me as they obviously do with you.

Leanne said...

I'm not a Tweeter but I occasionally read bits and pieces on other people's Twitter pages. I can't believe some people actually have the time or inclination to update mostly strangers, online, on what they're doing /every minute/ of the day. How does someone 'follow' someone else? What if they're lying? Then you're 'following' a story, I suppose.

So, most of this post escapes me; what you've described all seems a bit childish but I get the gist of what you're must be impossible to 'follow' over 20,000 people!

I hope you're feeling better about things over the weekend, Dave!

JonnyB said...

Golly. Yes.

I've found Twitter a bit like blogging was four or five years ago. Then it was with linking (blogrolls). Essentially people would like you, but only if you liked them back. Someone got a bit scary with me a couple of months back - didn't link back to them, so they started accusing me of stuff. Quite mild stuff compared to your story. But still - you know - stuff.

Twitter has been interesting. I published my feed a couple of weeks back. Loads of people subscribed to it. Being, hopefully, a bit of a nice guy at heart, I looked at all their feeds accordingly to see what they were up to. A small minority had - and I was interested rather than offended - subscribed to me then immediately unsubscribed. So I was sort of given the bait to look at them, without them looking at me. But a bit cynically.


The thing to remember is the INTERNET IS FULL OF NUTTERS.

Lee Allen said...


People like this are so stupid it actually hurts. I too only follow back people that maybe of interest to me I really don't understand all this I have more friends than you thing.
I have met you on a couple of occasions and you were very nice and took the time to chat and on one occasion sign a poster...also being slightly younger than you I can happily report that you didn't crack on to me so you cant be a peado!
keep twittering and don't let the buggers grind you down.

Lee aka @PhotosbyLee

Maire said...

Poor Dave, you can't help it if you're just more interesting than that git!

And, eh, I've watched some of your DVDs, and why haven't you ever taken the time to watch all the home video footage of me where I'm trying to hide my face. You're just so selfish!

I'll still give you virtual hugs anyway. And remember there are some people on the internet who are not insane. Not me, obviously, but some others perhaps.

Unknown said...

Yeah, what Leanne said.

I really just don't get why people on Twitter do expect a one-to-one interaction when 90% of the tweets seem to just be a rolling commentary on their daily routines. How people expect anyone to be glued to a screen 24/7 just trying to tread cyberwater in tweets I haven't a clue.

I'm much more a fan of the blogging medium and prefer a well written blog post to a barrage of tweets, especially when it comes to people I don't know in real life. Sure, aren't status updates on facebook/other generic social networking sites enough?

Try not to let the few crazies get you down Dave and happy twittering.

MrHaytch said...

I have to disagree, its disgraceful that people don't follow you back! I think every performer has to interact and take note of what every single one of their fans is doing in their day to day lives and listen to every single word they have to say. We fans have to listen to you guys so you should listen to us. Simple as that.

I mean, just yesterday I was giving of MY own time to watch tv, listening patiently to all the things people were saying on it, but when I was shouting back at the tv they didn't even bother to listen to ME!! It was like they didn't even hear ME!

ME! ME! ME!!!

EmlynB said...

The more I think about it, the more I wonder why I don't only follow Secret Tweet...

They follow me back.

I understand exactly what you mean, though, I follow the people that I find interesting and expect the same in return, I'm not a very interesting person so I won't get offended if people don't follow me.

By the way, follow me. I'm... just kidding.

Anonymous said...


It is a joke to look at someone with 10k+ or 100k+ and expect them to follow you. But more to what end as already outlined. Maybe this is something for twitter to work on themselves. Have a private and public following where the public following can be enabled by the click of one button to follow your followers thus keeping the needy happy. Am I on Genius?

Probably not. ;)

All the best


dave said...

Dave, a perfect response.
No obligation should ever be felt to follow anyone.
Don't feed the trolls...

Anonymous said...

I always find this a bizarre reaction to social networking.

Surely, my following someone on twitter or reading their blog is because it's something I want to read. Whether they want to read mine in return is their own business and there's certainly no assumption they should.

Facebook is the main example of social networking enforcing 2 way friendships, but it is very different to twitter, so it's more appropriate their.

I follow you on twitter and (having now found it) will probably read your blog regularly, but I'm just one of the 20,000, so although I would be very touched if you decided to follow me back, I'm not going to be surprised or disappointed if you don't. Who has time to read 20,000 people writing about what they had for breakfast?

Anonymous said...

I follow you on Twitter and could tell that you were having a rough day, but having just read your Blog, I had no idea just how distressing it was for you too.

On a lighter note, I loved that you couldn't help but include a graph or 2. I am sure you have a wee graph running through you like words in a stick of rock.

Dan Wilson said...

When you enjoy the benefits of an online community, the negatives can seem to outweigh the positive.

It doesn't need to be like that. at all, old fruit.


louis said...

for me the nice thing about twitter is that is is much less intrusive and whimsical than any other social network. I don't notice if anyone follows or unfollows me and i don't have to give to much of myself away. your messages disappear into the ether. It's fun.

until of course you get twats who decide that it's a competition. Please ignore any requests from people who want you to follow them, that's not the point.

btw, I feel a bit guilty because I haven't bothered to read all of your post so might be commenting erroneously, oh well.

boris said...

sorry to point this out but aint you just trolling the bloke now, its like yes he bit piss you off, but do you have to share it, and its like only oyur view point, surely we should see all the @'s to see the proper arguement, sorry but i like to see both sides of the story

love genius though

Anonymous said...

So what happens when people start abusing the person that made some harsh comments about you?

Maybe we could have the full conversation you had with the person. So we can understand the context

I like your work but this blog seems like you want people to boost your ego.

x vInTaGe VioLeT x said...

some people are just saddo's and some people just like to cause a fight. I've met more bullies on the internet than ever in real life, i think people especially troll-y ones get very brave when hiding behind their computer screens & wouldn't dare be so silly/mean in "real-life"

best thing you can do is walk away from the troll fights and enjoy the rest. i for one watched genius tonight cause i was reminded it was on by following you on twitter.

oh and i liked it esp. the opposite guys!

EmlynB said...

If he wants people to boost his ego he can just look at how many followers he has on Twitter.

This is his blog, where he comes to give his opinion and maybe see if people agree, not state the facts of his day in a completely impartial way.

Winnie May Davies said...

I am a little confused as to why you have let this person upset you so much. If he really got up your nose then why didnt you block him right away? Clearly you have let someone make you feel inferior when really you could have avoided it... so why blog and complain.. Hmmm...

I think maybe the full convo should be placed so everyone can post the points of view on it. Sharing just your thoughts and side on the convo is a little unfair...

Just thought i'd share my thoughts.

Catherine said...

An eloquent and well argued response to such idiocy. I totally agree with you. I'd be a bit cheesed off if a close friend of mine didn't want to follow me, but if I choose to follow a 'celeb' with thousands of fans, I am merely expressing an interest in what they are doing, not demanding that they take an interest in me in return.

In fact, I don't think I'd enjoy the pressure of having someone I admire following my tweets. Imagine trying to think of 140 characters that would amuse someone you find funny, or impress the intellect of certain knowledgeable celebrities.. And then to know, if you're truly honest with yourself, that they're unlikely to ever see it would be a little soul destroying. Kind of like writing a letter to your favourite pop star and receiving only a signed photograph in return.

Keep up the good work.

sharpfish said...

Hi Dave, very sorry to hear about this but that's just the internet in general. It happens on forums, blog comments, chatrooms. You can never fully avoid the irrational/childish types who's whole lives revolve around the internet.

I've had a few rough patches of abuse (or wind ups) thrown at me over the last 11 years of being on the net and I know how depressing it can feel. Especially when your heart is in the right place.

I too saw you mention something about some guy you'd blocked (I follow you on twitter, along with a few other 'famous' people and none of them follow me back, nor do I expect them too - I'm there because I'm interested in what THEY are doing, upcomming projects, tours, shows etc).

And for the record, though you don't follow me - I have tweeted you 2 or 3 times out of the blue (about your 2009 warm up shows and your PR on the 'Are You Dave Gorman' DVD and you replied each time - I think you actually reply to people MORE, pro-rata than most of the other celebs. Rob Brydon also replied to me. The point is, even though Wossy and Fry probably won't reply to anything I @ them, it's all fine. It's my choice to tweet these things and is really to offer support to the artists not to get a pat on the back myself.

Anyway, hope it doesn't put you off Twitter too much... hopefully they had their IP banned (or ISP contacted) for spreading slanderous rumours like that - it's disgusting!

All the best

Anonymous said...

Ip's Contacted?

Didn't know we were living in Nazi Germany.

It all seems to me rather childish.

I have got abuse got abuse in the past. I block that person and move on with my life.

Everyone has a viewpoint thats what makes the UK one of the the best places to live in.

Ethan leSabre said...

Hi Dave,

I was on twitter yesterday when all this was happening (and I notice that one particular tweeter that was rather vitriolic is in that graph) but I didn't say anything at the time. I felt that you handled the awful comments really well and your argument (which you've restated here in more than 140 chars) was coherent, and eminently sensible. I've been very proud of the fact that twitter is a simple and sensible social networking site. It's people like these that ruin it, but hopefully they'll continue to be the minority.

Thanks again for being open and honest and don't let the baskets get you down!

All the best, Ethan

Anonymous said...

Very well written blog.

But you are talking about one person in about I dont know how many people use Twitter?

So I would all suggest we move onto Happier topics.

If the Nazi police let us that is

alji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

isnt like pointing this guy out leading to trolling which your trying to stop?

alji said...

You are using tweetdeck, just create groups of the people you really want to follow. The group button is the sixth button at the top of tweetdeck.
You can add more people and keep them happy and yourself happy.

Unknown said...

I followed part of your exchange on Twitter and thought you were on the nail about interactivity and the 'I'm following you, you should follow me' issue.

I had somebody start messaging me this week because I happened to agree with Cory Doctorow on something he posted to I entered into what I thought might be a reasonable conversation at first, but as it progressed I came to the same conclusion as yourself. I was feeding a troll. He had the gall to tell me what I was thinking but I can attest that he was no Derren Brown. He then called me 'dearie-pie', the condescending arse, after I tried so hard to be polite and reasonable despite his tone. That was the final straw for me, so I blocked him.

It was you that said "Block and move on" wasn't it? Very good advice.



sharpfish said...

"Everyone has a viewpoint thats what makes the UK one of the the best places to live in."

Yeah when the viewpoint is that a public figure is a peadophile it goes behind mere net rough and tumble!

Seriously that is one of the lowest attacks on anyone (celeb or otherwise) I've heard in sometime. Sure - the rest is just 'the net' as I said, you get used to it :)

Anonymous said...

Block and move on?

Am I missing the point?

This blog doesn't sound like Dave is moving on.

It is never nice to get abuse but surely the Troll is getting a thril out of how much he has wound you and a lot of other people up.

You are probably feeding his/her ego.

Anyway lets move onto Genius idea's?

Twitter without Twats?

sharpfish said...

oh and @anonymous you may want to check out goodwins law re: your nazi comments :)

I'm with you - freedom is great, on the net and in life, imagine your freedom taken away if you were 'suspended' from a fairly high profile line of work due to malicious rumours started by a riled 'ex fan' for no sound reason.

Don't confuse 'abuse' with freedom of speech. Everyone can have an opinion, can everyone attack everyone without any safeguards? If you think so please go and read your ISPs small print.

Anonymous said...


All I am saying is it is obviously a Troll looking for a reaction.

Which he/she has got.

I somehow do not think Dave is going to get suspended from work over the words of a wind up merchant.

I just think the more we talk about it the less we forget about the good people I speak to most days on the Internet.

sharpfish said...

Yes you are correct in that, the nature of the troll is to get off on 'affecting' their 'victim' enough that they comment and show they were upset.

However, I think Dave is drawing a line under it by writing this blog (and moving on). People deal with things in different ways, it's not always easy to just 'move on' without first unloading your thoughts on the matter - esp when you were the target of something so ridiculous.

Some people can stay quiet, others can't but just as some have said it was the trolls 'right' to say what he did, so it is Dave's right to post this blog and purge it from his system (I feel). And now, yes, we should just concentrate on the good people as we do 99% of the time :)

Maybe something good can come of this and Dave can find something in it for future shows/stand up, because that one 'paedo' comment aside, the rest is laughable (and childish yes) :)

unknown said...

"But I hope Twitter doesn't turn into Myspace with all that 'thanks for the add' nonsense."

I fear it may...!!

(PS thanks for the add.....!)

Anonymous said...

Nothing to add other than my wholehearted agreement, and support

Anonymous said...

This started out as the normal childish behaviour you often see on the 'net, then it escalated to trolling. When it reaches the stage of vandalising websites with false accusations of paedophilia I think you have to wonder if the person has some mental health issues.

Rather than being angry or disgusted by this horrid behaviour I now feel sorry for what is obviously a sick individual. Sane people do not act like that.

Unknown said...

I think it is a demonstration of people's bizarre behaviour related to celebrities. I can't believe that people take twitter seriously, I have less that 100 followers and I don't follow them all. I suppose that I should expect to be outed as something unpleasant shortly.

banana_the_poet said...

Have to say I agree completely with your stance on this.

The Obama - account seems to follow everyone that follows it, but it is as interactive as a tv advert as far as I can see.

Good for you with your replying stats.

You never replied to me, but I just assumed that was because my tweets were not very interesting to you, which is your choice and not anything I would lie awake at night worrying about.

I'm still a fan of your work. Hope all this nastiness can be forgotten soon. I wouldn't be 'famous' for all the tea in china, and I have an awe of people who can handle all that attention - it would send me bonkers.

Take care and best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I follow about 100 people and find that quite enough to cope with! Twitter should as interactive or not as you want it to be.

One of the reasons I like it is because it reminds me of riding home on the bus at dusk. When people have turned their lights on but not yet closed their curtains, and you get a tiny glimpse of their private life. It's a window on the worlds of people who have completely different lives to you.

I haven't experienced the Twitter nutters yet, perhaps we should all amuse ourselves thinking up a new name for them, I suggest Twutters...

Don't let them get you down, enjoy!


Anonymous said...

It's important to remember that so-called Trolls - although actual people - remain faceless and nameless, or at least under their alter-ego for a reason.

For them, attacking the most popular people on a particular forum or social networking site is how they release their own daily demons (much the same as Dave writing a blog entry to lay it to rest). Sometimes, in an incredibly vile manner and always digging at the one thing *they* want for themselves, but only *you* have achieved.

It can be hard to swallow but try to remember they ARE faceless and nameless and aren't, in effect, real people in the real world and CAN easily be blocked or reported.

The virtual world is a different realm - in the main, a place where people can be more honest and more like the person they strive to be. For that sad minority, they will keep on trying to be as popular and failing.

I don't think I've even tweeted you yet Dave - I am waiting until I have something meaty to put across in the hope it DOES make you feel like interacting.

Luke Noel-Storr said...

Agree absolutely. Just look at Claudia Winkleman (@ClaudiaWinkle). She has 10,000+ followers, but only follows 16 people. Yet, almost all of her tweets are @replies. Try claiming she isn't being interactive, without walking away looking like a complete idiot.

Ludovica said...

Hi Dave. We met on Twitter when you were feeling a bit down about all this. I have to say you hit the nail on the head with every word of this blog. I think youre an absolute sweetie for (and I can personally vouch for this) your very real INTERACTION with me and I see from your page, others too. Please there are always over sensitive paranoid people who have a chip on their shoulder in life, Please dont let a few of those grind you down. When ever I see a vandalized page I know thats what it is. I'd never believe that kind of content without other confirmatory evidence, so don't stress about it. I love that you talk to ordinary nobodies like me. Totally made my day! Bless you!
(now follow me... LOL.. kidding! :p)
Your pal

chadanuk said...

Totally agree Dave - I follow you (on Twitter - think it needs clarification or it still sounds a bit odd) yet feel know need to have you follow me. Thats your choice.

I'm currently using twitter mainly as a quick way to interesting web content or quick links to news stories.

Blog pos about joining twitter I made

Anonymous said...

I think this all misses the point of why people want you to follow them on twitter.
If you follow them you get all their posts not just the ones directed at @dave_gorman and if we are honest some of us proles on twitter would like to feel that people are interested in us not just the tiny bit of us that comments directly @ you. We want to be in a community not just recipients of celeb broadcasts. This comes from the fact that the run of celebs that have recently joined are just using twitter as a marketting tool or an ego boost. Mitch Benn on the Now Show made it clear no of followers was a signpost to him of his importance.

Its idiocy but the #unfollow campaign happened as a bite against that. I was a bit involved and it was just a drunk evening larking around. Loads of celebs were #unfollowed but Dave was the one to respond. Ironic of course because his response immediatelydemonstrated we shouldn't have included him.

Another individual then took things too far. He deserves all the flak he gets. But he is able to take it I am sure. In the morning after I wondered if this constituted cyberbullying but imagined that Dave being a succesful broadcaster would just be laffing at us losers and wouldn't care.

Sorry for any offense I may have caused.

Chin up Dave there are lots of knobs out there.


Paul Hulbert said...

Well said, Dave - realistic and thoughful. Don't let the trolls get you down.

And ask the "Opposites" guys what the opposite of Troll is. I suspect it would be a "normal" Dave Gorman Twitter Follower.

Anonymous said...

This is a blog post, not a bloody thesis. That would be why HIS side of the story is told, not that of everyone else's as well.

Also, just because a post has been written about the whole sorry business doesn't mean the person at the receiving end of it all isn't moving on.

I think some people commenting here seem to equate 'writing about one's experience' with 'dwelling on it'. If someone claimed to like you and called you a paedophile because you weren't doing things the way they liked, you'd bloody well dwell on it too.

Those of you who want to see both sides and 'context', go and look at the original tweets yourself. Like I did. It's really not that hard.

Anyway, this is a common experience across the webs; grass is green, sky is blue, internet populated by nutters.

Joe Cassels said...

A good blog posting and in itself another example of you being interactive. It sounds like these childish folk wanted something from you, which you didn't give so they went off and threw a virtual tantrum.

I think some people see a celebrity follower as similar to collecting an autograph. Deep down they know that it doesn't really make you best mates, but it's still nice to have. The problem is that in granting the request you end up polluting your twitter stream with irrelevant stuff.

You can use TweetDeck filtering to do more than simply pretend you're following people though. I pick out a select group of friends who I really want to hear from and scan that first, interacting where I want. I can then look at the rest of my stream if I have time and pick out anything that catches my eye. If I don't have time, I simply ignore it. Sometimes I spot someone very interesting in the general stream of people I follow and decide to promote them to a friend who I can follow more closely. A general follow is like welcoming someone into the court, if they perform well they might join the inner circle (not that I really use terms like these, apart from in my head where I'm a medieval king).

I'm not for one second suggesting you adopt a system like this. Twitter's for using any way you like. It is an alternative to viewing filtering friends as a deception though.

It was nice interacting with you. In the old days we used to call it conversation.

Tim said...

What I'm seeing at the moment is Twitter becoming a 24 hour a day ego trip. Not for the people being followed but for those followers who want to interact with celebrities and be heard and replied to.

For example when a celeb tweets a question and 2,000 people respond, how does one ensure their tweet is read and replied to? The one with the valid point and most sensible answer may also not be the most eye catching tweet. Only by being amusing, controversial, negative or just silly, will people get noticed.

Unfortunately this doesn't make for a genuine social networking tool for real conversation, it only serves to massage the ego of those who like to be seen to be friends with someone famous.

At least on MySpace or a blog, a celeb can keep the relationship with the public one-way but with Twitter there is this expectation of "well I've tweeted him, why hasn't he replied?!".

I'm a follower of many celebs but just enjoy reading their daily musings and rarely @reply them, as I find it a little bit intrusive and almost demanding of the person.

This is a fairly new way of social interaction and it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Dave Gorman said...

Thanks for so many comments and for the large amount of agreement. To the few who have suggested that this blog post is inviting ill on the people concerned... I think you probably know who they are and so maybe believe that everyone else does... but I haven't named them for that reason. I don't wish to stoke the flames, just give a personal impression of what this strange event felt like at my end.

That said, a friend tells me that the main protagonist is indeed revelling in the fact that this blog has been written so to make it clear, I really did see this as drawing a line under things.

I'm also told that he's labouring under the misapprehension that I mentioned him - or this incident - on television. I didn't and don't know where he got that idea from. I haven't mentioned him, this, or even twitter on TV so have no idea how he arrived at that conclusion.

Thanks to Anonymous - signed off as TheGrimOne - who said:"I think this all misses the point of why people want you to follow them on twitter.
If you follow them you get all their posts not just the ones directed at @dave_gorman and if we are honest some of us proles on twitter would like to feel that people are interested in us not just the tiny bit of us that comments directly @ you."

To which I say... I haven't missed that point at all. My point is simply that you can't actively follow everyone... and so you have to choose who you follow rather than following everyone in order to make them momentarily feel good.

But he also says,"Its idiocy but the #unfollow campaign happened as a bite against that. I was a bit involved and it was just a drunk evening larking around. Loads of celebs were #unfollowed but Dave was the one to respond. Ironic of course because his response immediatelydemonstrated we shouldn't have included him."

Which makes me wonder why if it was immediately demonstrated he didn't immediately realise this. Makes me think that my made up scientific fact about someone who paints a placard was pretty accurate. If you start a campaign it's very difficult to climb down.

TheGrimOne also said: "In the morning after I wondered if this constituted cyberbullying but imagined that Dave being a succesful broadcaster would just be laffing at us losers and wouldn't care."

Which seems to get to the nub of the issue to me... because it suggests that because of some deluded idea as to what my life is like, bullying me isn't real bullying because, y'know, I'm different. Which matters not because he goes on to say the most important bit... "Sorry for any offense I may have caused." and for that I'm genuinely grateful.

robpannell said...

While I do agree wholeheartedly, in response to your last line: I have a badge saying 'Dave Whacked My Google!'


Anonymous said...

'But I hope Twitter doesn't turn into Myspace with all that 'thanks for the add' nonsense. It's not a competition to collect as many friends as possible. And anyone who follows thousands and thousands of people can't actually be following them can they? So relax. And interact. I mean really interact.'

Sooo true!

Don't let the b'stards get yer down.

DizzyD242 said...

Mr Gorman I was horrified to read about the morons trying to destroy you, I hope you find some way of taking legal action if things go further. I'm an avid people watcher and have watched you in many forms ie dvd, live, and I have found you to be true to yourself, honest and caring, as well as a very funny man, that is why I follow you, I trust what you have to say and enjoy your input to Twitter. I have experienced a small amount of cyberbullying and it is a destructive force, I'm disabled and the attack on me made me ill, I really hope that you get some comfort from your genuine followers and who knows maybe you can turn it round and make something funny from it and show what idiots some people can be.

Hatsbybilly said...

This is why I use twitter rather than myspace - I don't want "friends". If I'm interested - I'll follow you - I use it like a bookmark - I certainly don't feel as though the other person has to follow me back. It's nice to get a new follower - but sometimes it's nicer to follow. surely it's the tweeting back that makes it interactive, not the following - it's not the Moonies...


KingOfAnkh said...

I feel for you, I've been on the receiving end of such trolls and it does get to you.

maw said...

It is depressing that anyone can behave that way, but I do think that the majority of users on twitter are decent and respect the fact that people have the right to follow & interact with whoever they chose.

In most cases if someone is bothering you you can just block them, but obviously this guy is a nutter troll who is willing to go to extremes.

Sadly the only thing you can do in that case is ignore them as much as possible and go through official channels if needed to get them banned/removed.

I am sure they have already pissed off a bunch of other people, and nobody is going to take that kind of shit seriously, so all they are really doing is making themselves look bad and actually crazy.

Anyway, I hope a few idiots don't start ruining twitter for the majority of sane users.


irlbinky said...

hmmm what can you really say - unfortuneately some people can be dicks, some people can be idiots and then you have a lot fewer who are both. About the only thing I could think of when I head about your bad day first was that some pointless arguing is fun but then I realised as a celebrity that people will have you in their crosshairs alot more readily that the virtual no-one that I am.

I feel sorry that those 2 fuckwits ruined your day, and then tried to ruin you more - guess some people are just pathetic and are born with nice grooves for the chips on their shoulders to nicely fit.

And if you decided to follow everyone who followed you you would probably end up creating a second account to read the people you want to follow and find their posts in the thousands you would get which is a sekf defeating of the follow concept - you receive the messages once they have an @ and your name so what more do people want?

Woodcat said...

People are crazy... I'm now going to create a twitter account with the sole purpose of aggressively stalking as many people as possible... Sheesh. I fail to see why mutual stalking is obligatory online, and am only thankful that mentality is not yet quite so prevalent in real life.

Dave said...

It's very easy to get drawn into such meaningless debates with certain people. I have come across this type many times in the 'real world' and even more frequently on the interweb. I once made an appeal for rationale to a conspiracy theotist and was drawn into a fruitless debate which left me wanting to pull my own hair out.

I can only compare these people to a hyperactive, attention starved child who, once they realise their activities have failed in obtaining the required attention, resort to spite and vitriol.

Give them no further fuel to their fire. Take deep breaths then 'block and move on'.

Hope you're feeling better.


fourstar71 said...

People are strange. And if he is/was a genuine fan he'll be reading these comments and realising what a dick he's been. Hopefully.

mrcakey said...

Well, since you're a fan of stats, just remember that 90+% of the people you interact with are good eggs and that while it's easy for the @rseholes who make up the rest to play on your mind, there are definitely more of us than them.

dentednj said...

I'm surprised that Twitter doesn;t have some kind of "private follow" that allows you to just read the small # of folks you really want to catch up on, and keep the rest of the folks that post separated until you can take the time to go back and read more posts.

Also, I have found many strangers have decided to follow me. Since I am new at this and have few followers in comparison to... say yourself, I am curious and take time to go look at them. Most are friggin marketers trolling for info, and customers. I stop them from following me. I hate the idea they are gleaning info to use to sell shit to people...

Anyway... It is disappointing to know that you can follow someone with a huge amount of fans, and know any reply you may give will not be read, but thats just the way it goes with popular people.I take it for what it is, a chance to hear about a persons "goings on", and hopefully they will entertain you. Boring people just suck, and I will not follow them if their posts are tedious, mundane drivel. Nough' said.

dentednj said...

oh shit, just took time to read more comments and see tweetdeck will filter the posts for me.... kewl!

fourstar71 said...

@dentednj: "...any reply you may give will not be read, but thats just the way it goes with popular people."

Like old-fashioned 'fan mail', really. Always amused me that anyone thought they got read, as opposed to, say, burnt.

Fat Runner said...

Some people are just weird. Unfortunately social networking is the window to the weird. I can't believe this was someone in his thirties.

P.S. I'm surprised he hates your clothes. They're actually alright now.

dreams of pavement said...

hey, don't let it upset you! there are some weirdos around and for some reason, they seem to come alive on the internet.

i'd like to point out the irony of them suggesting you weren't adding them because your twitter account is just a vanity project... the reason they want you to add them is itself, a vanity project! they want you to add them so they can go around saying "look! dave gorman is my friend! i'm great, me!"

double standards or what!! not that i am suggesting your twitter is a vanity project like, though who cares if it was? it's a free world and if you want to have a vanity project, then go for it! x

Jenny Harvey said...

You have got it absolutely right Dave.

I am a later comer to twitter and have now embraced it fully.

The point is to follow those that tweet with interest. I struggle to cope with following 50, so gawd knows how you manage 200 +

All I can say is that far from self promotional pap your tweets are always of intrest.

I guess those of us that came to twitter from blogging get the concept more than the facebookers who seem to collect "friends" like marbles (err the friends are not like marbles?) anyway I know what I mean. Mind you I am on facebook so I am no better

Hope these twitter twits dont put you off

Michael Legge said...

Dave! How delighted I am to hear that you're a paedophile now. I was thinking of getting into that only because there's a really annoying kid living near me and I want to scare him. How did you get into that? Read that you saw Jonathan King the other day, too. Is he an inspiration? Got to say, don't really see your problem with Trolls. Aren't they fictional? I may be wrong as I have been drinking quite heavily.

Karen said...

I'm torn between being highly entertained by your thoughtful and impeccably argued post, and being absolutely horrified with what you had to face. I've decided to accept both reactions. Here's hoping for better days for you, and thank you for continuing to meet life events with such evident good humor and grace and sharing those stories with us.

Anonymous said...

.... wow. How insecure an arsehole does a person have to be to make THAT big a deal out of you not inconveniencing yourself?

You did exactly what I do in such situations - discuss as reasonable, ignore, block... the difference is that I'm not famous and couldn't care less what some random person starts telling a very limited audience about me. I certainly have no worries about it being picked up further afield on a national level or being heard by people whose opinions do matter to me.

Best wishes. Don't let it put you off.

Henry Elliss said...

I understand that it would be harder and let's face it, not as funny, to do a more complex calculation, but...

The really annoying ones are the slebs that only reply to other slebs, which means that if you're following both it feels like you're somehow intercepting their pesonal e-mail inbox or something.

Your post is utterly right in every way.

Cedric said...

I can't believe that someone can be so annoyed that they accuse a decent human being (And a funny one at that) of such a vile and despicable act

Absolutely unbelievable

Zoonie said...

I'd love to discuss this whole topic with a bunch of people. Andrew Collins, Rich Herring's podcast-mate joined a wee while ago, and gathered hundreds of followers before he's actually said *anything*, and he unsubbed on the same day, he was so freaked out. I've seen other people with public profiles join, then spend most of their time talking about how many followers they've gathered! Which, er, sort of misses the point, I think.

On your initial point, I'm not sure if you were a member yonks back, before Mr Fry joined, but people who were already squirrelled away on Twitter at that point all subbed to His Amiable Geekness out of a sense of I don't know... extended geeky loyalty and Yay-ness, particulary after he followed some friends off his own bat, sort of thing. Then he friended *everybody*. Last time I looked he had 35k people he was following! I gave up long ago, and unfollowed because I don't see Twitter *for me* as a broadcast medium, I see it as generally speaking a cosy friendly collection of little bubbles of interconnected Venn diagrams, which can occasionally come together when something truly extraordinary is happning, like Obama's election, or an earthquake in SF, as happened earlier today (or the bleedin' Apprentice apparently, Gawd help us).

But I do recognise that that's a 'me' thing, and the genius of the app is that it can be used in a ton of ways.

Dave, you're screwed with the whole 'pissing people off because you don't follow them' thing because you've used your name. My serious advice is - create your own account for you, called an obsure nickname. Use the existing one as a rough and ready fan club with very clear rules of engagement, and use the other as a private account for you to engage on a lovely level with your real mates. There are a couple of desktop clients that handle double accounts n'stuff.

For me, there are almost 2 Twitters. There's the lovely little venn diagrams one, which might well be protected, and in which you can be yourself, then there's this big, public semi-RSS-like environment in which you can catch up on people who have a public profile who you don't know, asa well as NASA, Greenpeace, etc, etc.

For my money, I can't help but think that Mr Fry has burderned himself with a bit of a stressful sense of obligation by following 35k+ people. He will, I'm certain, end up having to deal with people like the one that Dave has. And more than one of them. You make yourself publicly available, you pay the consequences.

I don't sub anyone I don't know. I am subscribed using a gender-free pseudonym, and my biog explicitly says "please don't be offended when I don't follow you back". Everything's very managed. And that's because I want it to be a small and lovely addition in my life, not some huge swamping awfulness.

Anyway, Dave, thanks for sharing the story. Very interesting. And remember, you don't owe people communication. Don't let someone's confused behaviour and priorities upset you. You're not trained to deal with that kind of thing, and it must be quite distressing.

Dave Gorman said...

Zoonie said: "Dave, you're screwed with the whole 'pissing people off because you don't follow them' thing because you've used your name."

Me: I disagree entirely. I think the vast majority of people understand that I'm just a bloke with a computer like everyone else. The idea that anyone should follow everyone is erroneous and I think most people get that.

Zoonie said: "My serious advice is - create your own account for you, called an obsure nickname. Use the existing one as a rough and ready fan club with very clear rules of engagement, and use the other as a private account for you to engage on a lovely level with your real mates."

Me: I think using it as a fan club is exactly the kind of behaviour that upsets people. I don't think it is that and it shouldn't be treated as such.

fourstar71 said...


Meg Pickard ( has some interesting stuff on this. She set out some ways in which /she/ prefers to use Twitter and then got some abuse from people who accused her of trying to make rules for everybody (which she clearly wasn't).

Three posts, worth a read IMHO:

Post 1
Post 2
Post 3


BadAlbert said...

Exactly! I'm now going to follow you on Twitter. You better bloody well follow me back! (kidding)

Sarah said...

Well, hopefully I'm not completely missing the emotional part here, I understand it's frustrating and upsetting, but you seem so sensible and logical and likeable that it brings a smile to think this loser thinks they might even for a second have the upper hand when they're quite lost in the head.

Bless their little cotton whatnots. You carry on being you, you do it so very well :)

taitle said...

Well half the time it is what the hell you are going to write.

Normally if someone posts on my blogs I take it upon myself to return the courtesy. Social Networking, and sites like Twitter are different.

I don't base friend updates on Twitter, I just use Facebook for that. I use Twitter because I am a news and media junky.

taitle said...

But to add, your situation is completely different as everyone would wants to know you.

Anonymous said...

Some months ago now I was stalked in a pub by a girl I went to school with who I had recently accepted a friend request from on Facebook. My drinking partner noticed her first, standing on the other side of the room glaring at me with the eyes of someone who is desperate for you to notice they are glaring at you. I smiled at her. She glared back. I decided to ignore her and she continued to move around the room, glaring at me from different vantage points. At one point I caught her, if you can imagine this, peeking angrily at me from behind a doorway. Finally we came face-to-face on the smoking deck where she revealed that she was upset because I hadn’t poked her back on Facebook. The thing is I had poked her back, and then she poked me back and I decided that was enough poking for now. Apparently I was wrong. ‘THAT IS WHY I DE-FRIENDED YOU!’ She hollered over the top of me as I tried to ask her how long she expected the poking to go on. I hadn’t even noticed that she had de-friended me. Anyway, it didn’t escalate beyond that, so I was clearly the victim of a lunatic of a much lesser order and I’m not sure what the point of this story is except to say that the internet can be like fertiliser for the fucked up and sometimes I really think I should just delete all my accounts and go outside and play.

Unknown said...

When I first joined twitter, I decided to follow to the No 10 downing street feed, and was completely freaked out when they decided to follow me back. Why on earth does No 10 downing street care about what I do - it was just nonsense.

When people only follow things they are interested in, it's great because you can look at who they follow and see if those people are interesting and maybe follow them yourself. I think we should have a reverse campaign, and get big followers like No 10 and Steven Fry to unfollow everyone.

Anonymous said...

I use twitter to follow people who are interesting and supply me with information. I get most of my news from twitter these days because I follow my favourite journalists and comedians and musicians. My bus ride to work is where I read the news and it all comes from trusted sources on twitter. I only follow about 120 people, most of whom I don't know.

I'm followed by about 40 people again, most of those I don't know. Sometimes I wish that those who do know me would rack off and just be happy with being my facebook friend. I tone myself down on facebook, I break free of what people expect on twitter.

I've made a few 'friends' on twitter and we interact regularly.

I use facebook for my "real life" friends, and twitter as an information playground I guess.

people who expect others on twitter to conform to their rules are idiots. Just because you're famous (or not) and on twitter does not mean they own a piece of you.

I hope you reported those people to the police. they are dangerous.

mensajes movistar gratis said...

I use twitter to follow people who are interesting and supply me with information.

aplicaciones android tablet said...

People are crazy... I'm now going to create a twitter account with the sole purpose of aggressively stalking as many people as possible... Sheesh. I fail to see why mutual stalking is obligatory online, and am only thankful that mentality is not yet quite so prevalent in real life.