Pointless babble

The clue’s in the name of the service: Twitter. It’s not called Roar, Assert, Debate or Reason, it’s called Twitter. As in the chirruping of birds. Apparently, according to Pears (the soapmakers presumably – certainly their “study” is froth and bubble) 40% of Twitter is “pointless babble”, (http://is.gd/2mKSg) which means of course that a full 60% of Twitter discourse is NOT pointless babble, which is disappointing. Very disappointing. I would have hoped 100% of Twitter was fully free of earnestness, usefulness and commercial intent. Why do these asinine reports jump onto a bandwagon they don’t understand and why do those reporting on them relate with such glee that a service that was never supposed in the first place to be more than gossipy tittle-tattle and proudly banal verbal doodling is “failing to deliver meaningful commercial or political content”. Bollocky bollocks to the lot of them. They can found their own “enterprise oriented” earnest microblogging service. Remind me to avoid it.


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63 comments on “Pointless babble”

  1. mayclem72 says:

    i would question how anyone could possibly create ‘meaningful commercial or political content’ in less than 140 characters! what do these people drink?!?!

  2. NikolajF says:

    asinine, indeed..

  3. harley quin says:

    I was amused to hear that they considered this news – surely this is the point of twitter? If you don’t like gossip, don’t use it. What is pointless babble is this survey, which presumably someone paid for. Or perhaps it was a cynical attempt to garner publicity on the back of a current trend?

  4. andrewrjones says:

    I heard that 40% of short-term studies are pointless babble…

  5. tixylixslr26 says:

    Here Here!!! I totally agree. Twitter is nothing more than idle chit chat, but that’s what it’s meant to be. Stop trying to turn it into something it’s not and let’s enjoy twitter for what it is!

  6. Mxdp says:

    Hear, hear! They condemn what they do not understand… *shakes head sadly*

  7. Jonathan Syer says:

    MY GOD! YES! I saw this on the beeb news site recently. Who the hell gets paid to do such things. The less we hear about products and the more we hear about touching cloth, the better.

  8. keeno says:

    Did you see Janet Street-Porters scathing attack on it too? blimey! it was so vicious you’d have thought that Twitter had manifest itself into a hooded being who proceeded to mug her and shout “Sorry to hear you don’t have your finger on the pulse and more. ya goofy twat!” as it ran off.

    Whilst it took a little while for me to ‘get’ Twitter, it’s so simple that all you have to do is join, get involved and after a week, jimminy bingo! the world of interesting tidbits open up in front of you.

  9. Aurora says:

    I’m watching Kingdome, so I’m absolutely unfocused! :) I’ll read it carefully later! :))

  10. haswalt says:

    I totally agree. Also far too much selling on twitter! Too many times have a seen not only adverts and spam on twitter but also people advocating such abuse of peoples gossip. For example the next tweet after yours Stephen was “Corporate Twitter Toolbox: Twitter Tools fro the Enterprise http://bit.ly/10LXzH“! Sick and wrong.

  11. JoanMiro says:

    Well said – the same thought occurred; Twitter is a medium, not a service or a movement. They might just as well criticise people’s use of phones for chit-chat over their ‘much more important’ use in contacting the emergency services.

  12. PhilGibson says:

    Surely pointless babble is the best kind of babble, while the rest is nothing more than attemps to sell a product or a belief.

  13. Chrissypoos says:

    Yes, I”ve only just started to tweet and “proudly banal verbal doodling” is the fun of it. Absolutely inspiring compared to the Facebook status updates I’m used to “Put the cat out this morning,” “OMG I think my boss fancies me.” Although come to think of it I do like the word ‘fancy’ – maybe some future blog material on that one methinks.

  14. semi says:

    Agreed, touching cloth is far more amusing than touching base….

  15. bloke10 says:

    “They” wont be happy until they’ve spoiled Twitter and we’ve all had to find something new to use.

  16. @alittlebit says:

    Hear hear! Nicely and concisely put :)

  17. ditty1013 says:

    Reminds me a bit of Oscar Wilde’s preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray. :-) Well put, sir.

  18. cowtan says:

    Indeedy. Kind of like complaining that most books are only good for reading.

  19. PeopleLikeUs says:

    Nonsense is highly underrated, being the essence of all language.

  20. BillyBloggins says:

    Well said, and I’m an online marketeer who should be disagreeing with you. Bring on the babble!

  21. dawnnoble says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. The BBC does publish some very silly stories sometimes. They, and the researchers, totally missed the point of Twitter – it’s supposed to be babbly and twittery (are those real words?!). Hilarious really.

  22. paddy0bar says:

    its like jeremy clarkson talking computers…. they should not write about something they dont understand!

  23. nelle parsley says:


  24. specki4is says:

    I work from home and like to think of Twitter as my ‘water cooler’ moment (or if I’m being really honest ‘my fag break moment) I like to Twitter the same way that I like to chat – sometimes seriously, occasionally informatively, generally idly. So ya bo sucks to Pears – even if they do make exceedingly good soap….

  25. Llams says:

    I totally agree! I know of people who actually complain that others waffle and put pointless posts on Twitter about every day life! Hmmm me thinks the point is missed by these people. I also know of people who lose followers because they think they are not being useful enough!

    Hooray for you, someone who can point out what Twitter is all about and have people listen!

  26. Mariposa says:

    I have seen a lot of people complain after they signed up with Twitter saying it was boring and pointless. I feel that Twitter is very misunderstood. Twitter is for people that are on the road a lot and do a lot of things on the go and Twitter is a way of keeping your friends and even family up to date on what you are up to. It’s a fast and easy and sometimes very amusing way to just share thoughts that pop into your head or feelings that certain things you see or hear make you feel….

  27. nonoyesyes says:

    I suppose everyone [and their dogs] wants their tuppence worth..
    But it’s so…
    Well Stephen ~ I think YOU said it all, really!
    (( point well made actually! ))
    I misuse `Twitter’ quite a bit but am frightfully aware of it..
    but as suggested by the name… well to me, anyway, it says something about light-hearted to and fro of ideas or what you will!
    ((( go figure! ))

  28. BarryHurford says:

    Well I never! “Pointless Babble” eh? May I draw the readers attention to the fact that our species thrives on exactly that! Without “Babble” our interactions would sound like the shipping forecast, and let’s face it, it’s not as though people really inwardly digest most of what is spoken at them. The vast majority of us are set to “transmit” only and twitter provides a silent medium for them to expel their fecal matter without any long term harm to passers-by, as such, twitter may be sanity’s saviour. Long live “Babble-On”!

  29. Aurora says:

    Ops! Someone drove you very angry! gosh! You turn uncomprehesible when you erite under an anger “attack” …Anyway, I understood what upset you, and the only thing I can say is don’t listen them!Just do what you want!Live your life and make your job!And You’ll make people happier that they would ever imagine!!!

  30. Thomas Atcheson says:

    what I don’t get is people like David Cameron and Janet Street Porter denoucing a whole set of people as tw@ts. They simpley don’t get that you can have a conversation in a different format.

    You wouldn’t condemn a party for being drab because there’s a bore ranting on in the corner when the rest of the party is full of vibrant and interesting people.

    Yes there is banality, but there’s hardly the philosphical cutting edge of discussion at my local bus stop either. It does stop people enjoying the chat.

  31. Andrew Delicata says:

    Well said, a load of arse indeed :)

  32. LadyFran says:

    One mans babble is another mans gospel!

  33. UglyGrump says:

    Indeed, very much big “Bollocky bollocks” – and I registered to say so.

    Sack the researcher; who do you follow to get 60% non-babble? Why, my stream would shame a brook.

    [40% babble-based, babble-free contribution. A definition : http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=babbling%20brook ]

  34. sickleclown says:

    It is indeed disappointing that only 40% of all twitting is twaddle,I for one will not subscribe to earnest and topical discussion while being a twit,and will wholeheartedly continue to prate on about meaningless tattle. xx

  35. netean says:

    thank god it’s waffle.

    I tweet because I need to, because I want to. I neither need nor desire a raft of followers because I know I have nothing important to say.

    But I enjoying saying nothing to nobody in particular, it’s fun, it’s therapeutic, it serves in need in me to express myself.

    but let’s get one thing clear, who the hell decides what is babble and what is not, what is worthy, what is not?

    I don’t blame the researcher of this study (afterall I haven’t read his study in full) I blame the media for making trying their hardest to make this newsworthy.

  36. serendipitous says:

    As you say it’s in the name….and that’s what sold twitter…a chance to babble, burble, bump the gums, bumble away and so much more attractively join the birds and twitter away (& to) our hearts’ content.

  37. michael says:

    Harvard did a twitter study that claimed to compare men’s twitter habits to women’s….

    it was RT’d over and over, followed by 1,000s of argumentative comments about what women are like & what men are like…

    But twitter profiles don’t even HAVE a gender checkbox.


    p.s. this universal log-in thing is working good. :) thanks to your staff!!

  38. j9r says:

    Why does everything have to have a point? Who lives their lives that way? And if that person exists I don’t think I really want to know them. As some else said, I work from home, so twitter is my coffee break chit-chat.

  39. frandrake says:

    This is the best answer on the study on Twitter that I read so far! :-D

  40. RobS says:

    A friend complained to me recently
    “Why is everybody so eager to get to the destination, why can’t they just enjoy the journey”. While I would probably choose to phrase it differently the point is no less valid.
    The point of Twitter is there doesn’t need to be a point, its meant to be something to enjoy.

    Oh and “Bollocky bollocks to the lot of them”. Beautifully put Stephen

  41. melodychamlee says:

    Print media used to be produced to ratings. Ad success and format required editing. Rather than syphon opinions using industry overhead, Twitter encourages more info equally attended. Open canvas.

  42. adambowie says:

    The report was somewhat misleading in its findings because it only considered what was being said, and not who was reading it.

    Simply put, if I only tweet uninteresting “babble” about what I had for breakfast today, it’s likely that only my closest friends and family (and spambots) will tolerate my musings.

    But if I’ve built a large following due to my wit, insight, knowledge, humour or whatever, then I’ll probably gain more followers, most of who will be interested in what I have to say.

    The two tweets are considered equally in the Pears report, yet clearly one has vastly more impact than the other.

    (This does not, of course, preclude people with large numbers of followers from “babbling” – but their followers are likely to enjoy that babble.)

  43. curlydena says:

    Surely one man’s babble is another man’s juicy little tid-bit of information/fun? That’s the whole point of picking and choosing who you follow is it not? If I’m not interested in a person’s tweets I won’t follow them and if they’re not interested in mine, then they don’t have to follow me either. Simple as.

    Where we really need to be concerned about the percentage of “pointless babble”, is in the various communications channels that are actually supposed to “to deliver meaningful commercial or political content”, yet fill their pages/sites/airtime with guff.

  44. Sam Liu says:

    Very, very true, Mr. Fry. Unfortunately, it appears that escaping commercial marketing is a nigh on impossible task – they’re everywhere!

  45. spwalker says:

    I appreciate and am amused by the Wildean sentiments behind your assertion of disappointment about only 40% of Twitter being pointless babble. That said, I’m in business, and Twitter can actually be of use as a way of communicating with specific audiences, as well as an amusing diversion from the languors of the desk. For that part of its use, pointless babble would be, well, pointless, so must, I fear, be somewhat pointed.

  46. R.W. says:

    You little love. The endless aggro I’ve had for being Ms Twitter because Twitter is ‘pointless’ underlines your point.

    The one little disagreement I’d throw into the mix is that pointless twittering can sometimes lead to ‘important’ things in the same way that pointless chatter can. Through twittering about literary bits and bobs – which is what I like to do for fun – I’ve met lots of important literary bods. Some of them would be able to help me in my chosen career, some wouldn’t but that doesn’t affect how I feel about any of them (except I get to find out the personalities I wouldn’t want to work with – which is helpful).

    Through the pointless chatter during the Ms Twitter comp a set of shared values emerged from a group of people and we’re now trying to do something to raise awareness of things like literacy and libraries.

    Sometimes important things happen, sometimes they don’t. As long as it’s fun and people are talking to each other then Twitter has served its purpose.

    Keep twittering you wonderful chap!


  47. I’d be interested (in that hypothetical, satirical sort of way) to see how postcards would stack up against regular letters in terms of content, and if the statistics would justify demonizing postcards.

  48. Karen Redman says:

    I agree with you 100%. Twitter is a witty, (often wickedly witty!), enjoyable, helpful and supportive place to be. And not all tweets are “pointless drivel” – there’s a great deal to be learnt by following interesting people from all walks of life. Why try to make it something that it’s not meant to be and never purported to be. Am SO glad you’ve written about this. Thanks for the blog and long live Twitter!

  49. trullybrit says:

    Never mind all that, cricket at the Oval starts Thursday and nothing will get done in my flat until the whole thing ends, except of course that other very English passtime of reading the twitters, poor fools those who have not yet tuned into the meaning of a good twit…..now where is my England flag??

  50. Fryphile says:

    Ah bless, Mr Fry. These little microburst blogs are perfect for those of us with short attention zombie hedgehogs.

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