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and finally Hoist by their own Twitter petards

Boastful tweets can often come before a fall, warns Chris Proctor


’d never heard of Sergi Guardiola until last month, and thanks to Twitter, I’m unlikely to hear of him again. He is the latest in a long line of Twitter’s hapless victims.

Sergi is the man who had it all. For about four hours. Then, like a snake on the board game, he was back to zero. Sergi was toddling along nicely, playing football

for Alcorcon, a second-tier side based in Madrid. He trotted round a field in the morning and lay in a tattoo parlour in the afternoon. Life was good. Then Barcelona rang him and said he could play for them. Barcelona! The most celebrated football team on the planet! He, Sergi, was going to be a huge star, as celebrated as Christmas, as recognised as the NUJ at the Guardian and as rich as Iranian uranium. Off he sped to Catalonia with a smart suit, a bright future and a fountain pen to sign the contract. For four hours he was a man at the pinnacle of his chosen career. And then it emerged that two years previously he had tweeted his support for Real Madrid when that team was playing Barcelona. Bad move. And that’s the awful thing about something posted on Twitter – like a footballer’s tattoo, it never goes away. Despite Sergi’s protestations that (a) it was a misunderstanding (b) it was in 2013 (c) he didn’t know the tweet existed (d) someone else had put the remarks on his profile and (e) he asked for forgiveness a thousand times, all was lost. Twitter won, Sergi, nil. Still, he did rather better than a woman who was offered a job by US-based technology company Cisco. She didn’t even get her four hours. She rushed out of her interview to tweet ‘Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty pay check against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.’ Sadly it appears that major technology firms are

aware of social media. The next tweet on her account was from Cisco, saying she needn’t trouble herself deciding about the job. It wasn’t there any more.

What came over her? Did she think Twitter was

private? Or did she think no one would take any notice, like the people who invented the hashtag for the release of a Susan Boyle record and chose #susanalbumparty? A tag only surpassed by the loo- paper people who use #tweetfromtheseat. The main trouble with Twitter is that it exists: and therefore it has to be used. People see a river, so they want to swim. They see a car, so they want to drive. They see a Twitter account, they want to write. Ignoring the maxim that writer’s block is God’s way of telling you to shut up, they think of something – anything – and then trap it into 140 characters before they have their breakfast. It’s like writing a haiku on speed. I don’t mind when my local pub tweets its

Christmas opening hours, or tells me which beers it has on tap. It doesn’t make much difference – I’m not going to sulk at home if they don’t have Old Tickety Brew’s Rabbit Doings – but at least their tweets are about drinking. I do get irked, though, when huge companies use Twitter to pretend to be my chum; almost as much as I rejoice when they come unstuck. My favourite came from the Waffle House franchise which, following the songstress’ demise, tweeted to ask if its adherents had any, ‘Thoughts on Whitney Houston’s funeral this past weekend?’ It still troubles me. Was there some link between Waffle House and Ms Houston’s passing? She didn’t die snorting waffles, did she? Or maybe they sponsored the funeral? In the same way, I struggle to see the bond between McDonalds and hypnotism, apart from suspecting that you’d enjoy their burgers more if your mind was missing. But on January 4th, which as you will know is official World Hypnotism Day, the beefy franchise advised ‘You are feeling verrrrry Cheeseburger #HypnotismDay’. Twitter is a strange world. It reminds me of Pirandello’s play (loosely) called ‘140 Characters in Search of an Author’. Or maybe it’s 232 million users on the verge of a disaster.

26 | theJournalist

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