A funny and interesting Twitter experiment

Kenneth Osgood is a historian who, he says, “writes sleep-inducing books and articles weighed down by pages of footnotes”. He rarely tweets and has just 139 followers who are mostly historians like him. He is kind of like me. Although I have tweeted more than him, every one of my tweets is simply a link to my blog posts. I have never tweeted anything funny or a hot take on an issue, which seems to be the dominant form of the medium. It is hardly surprising that I have even fewer followers than Osgood, just 130.

Osgood was angered by Musk’s decision to reinstate Donald Trump, a man who had incited violence against his own vice president and instigated a riot on the Capitol. He decided to quit Twitter but found that doing so is a pain. Social media sites do not make it easy to leave. So he decided to test whether it might be easier to get booted off the platform since Twitter owner Elon Musk seems to be trigger-happy with the ‘ban’ button.

His article describes what he did.

Could I get myself banned for lobbying nothing more than silly schoolyard insults at Musk, the kind that I heard in kindergarten — “bologna face” being an example of the genre? I set some clear rules: no profanity, no political insults, no references to Musk’s real-world circumstances or personal life. I didn’t want anyone to think for a moment that I was the actual Elon Musk, and I wanted the “insults” to be banal and harmless, maybe even wholesome (if that’s a thing).

Inspired by the comedian Kathy Griffin, who had her account suspended for impersonating Musk, I made some changes. First, I deleted all my old tweets, one by one. (That did not take long.) Then I downloaded a picture of Musk, drew a mustache and glasses on his face, uploaded the new image as my avatar, and changed my screen name to “Elon Musk.” 
I also edited my profile. My likes were now “the moon, working late, government subsidies, making people miserable, hate speech.” And my dislikes were “complete paragraphs, evidence, nice people.” 

Not having any real practice with the medium, he asked his teenage daughter to help and they came up with some insults like “”My name is Elon. I am a poopy pants.” But he found that coming up with childish schoolyard taunts three times a day was exhausting and after a few weeks he quit. Maybe he could have got some ideas from the French taunts in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, such as “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.”

But then when he tried to log on some weeks later, he found that his account had been suspended. Success at last!

Now Osgood wonders how hard it is to get re-instated. After all, Ye got back on after just a few weeks even after making anti-Semitic tweets, surely a more serious offense than taunts. He hopes that making fun of Musk is considered more serious and that he is not re-instated because then he would have to figure out how to really quit.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    If all of twitter was as funny as Greta Thunberg being praised by progressives around the world for insulting a man based on the size of his penis… I probably still wouldn’t use it.

  2. anat says

    sonofrojblake, my understanding is that Greta Thunberg insulted the alleged human trafficker based on his perception of the size of his penis rather than the actual size.

    I don’t have a twitter account, but some twitter accounts serve as a useful source of up-to-date research in areas I’m personally interested in. I hope that when the owners of those accounts move elsewhere I’ll be able to read the new content wherever they end up.

  3. Holms says

    She said he has ‘small dick energy’, meaning he gives the impression / acts as if he has a small dick. Not a fact claim about his penis size, but it’s a distinction without a meaningful difference from sonof’s summary.

  4. anat says

    I’d say ‘acts as if he has a smaller dick than what would please him’. Of course, his public reaction confirmed the impression that he indeed cared.

  5. Silentbob says

    For anyone who cares what the insecure male clowns in this thread are talking about, what actually happened is a misogynistic idiot tried to mock Greta Thunberg by boasting about how many gas guzzling cars he had and she utterly humiliated him publically by correctly pointing out he was exhibiting insecurity about his masculinity. ‘Penis size’ was understood to be metaphorical by all parties involved (except the idiots in this thread pretending otherwise because they don’t like uppity women).

  6. Silentbob says

    Also, happy new year. X-D
    And may 2023 be full of much more calling out of misogynistic, racist, homophobic, transphobic and otherwise prejudiced dickheads.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    @Silentbob, 5:

    ‘Penis size’ was understood to be metaphorical by all parties involved

    Well, yes, that goes without saying doesn’t it? If I were to call you a cunt nobody would for a moment think I literally meant you were a woman’s vagina*. It would be clearly understood by all parties involved that I was merely metaphorically comparing you to a woman’s vagina. However -- and this is important -- the use of genitalia (male OR female) as an example of something bad or horrible or insulting in any way is as I understand it generally held in progressive circles to be undesirable and to be avoided. Another good example of such an insult is “dickhead” -- thanks for bringing that one in too. It’s why the insult “asshole” is so common right here on the generally progressive FtB -- it’s a completely non-gendered put-down. Assholes are like opinions -- everybody’s got one.

    Of course, for the more hypocritical SJWs these progressive principles go out the window immediately if the target is acceptable and the one doing the insulting has the right credentials. For me, however, I’m doing my best to avoid gendered insults altogether and not be afraid of calling them out when I see them. But you know -- you do you.

    (Ironically, you know where I learned most of the above? Right here on FtB.)

    *to paraphrase Jimmy Carr -- I would never call you a cunt, as you lack the warmth, the depth, and the capacity to give pleasure.

  8. John Morales says

    Well, these comments hitherto are meta in relation to the actual OP, but there we are.

    In this case, Silentbob is correct about the linguistic aspects, and the others are just being hyper-prescriptive. Not that credibly, in sonofrojblake’s case, as the footnote @8 clearly indicates.

    But on to the topic at hand:

    Social media sites do not make it easy to leave. So he decided to test whether it might be easier to get booted off the platform since Twitter owner Elon Musk seems to be trigger-happy with the ‘ban’ button.

    This is, of course, utterly disingenuous.
    One can very easily leave a social media site by not using it, simple as that.
    Don’t look at it, don’t post in it, job done. One has left.

    And the test was indeed informational: after a few weeks’ of effort, he had not yet succeeded. So, yeah, not the easier route.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    The jiddish words schlemiel, schlock and putz are all words for penis, but if we are not allowed to borrow from jiddish when taunting people the world will be a more boring place.
    Having said that, I no longer use c*nt, (although in British English this is by now a unisex insult).

  10. sonofrojblake says

    if we are not allowed to borrow from jiddish when taunting people the world will be a more boring place

    You’re allowed to do what you want. Freeze peach and all that. I’m allowed to sing along to ALL of NWA’s lyrics if I really want, and I don’t consider the world “more boring” because I don’t. It’s not about what you’re allowed to do. It’s what polite, progressive society says is the polite, progressive thing to do. If you don’t want to do it, crack on, nobody is stopping you. What they’re doing is judging you, and if you don’t like it, well, you know what to do.

    I no longer use c*nt

    There, see?

    this is by now a unisex insult

    In application, it has always been a unisex insult, at least in the UK, certainly since well before my lifetime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *