Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch, and other trends on Twitter
I almost fell off my chair when I saw the latest Twitter trend: ‘Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch.’ It highlighted the brilliance of social media once more, and the beauty in uniting one world behind a very important discovery.
It scares me to think that only a decade ago, we wouldn’t be aware of the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch looks like an otter, or, perhaps, otters bear surprising resemblance to the Sherlock star.
It would appear that millions of people across the UK, some even perhaps further a field, are divulging in the enjoyment of a stark comparison between creature and man. And now we are united in singing its praises, glorifying a momentous occasion beyond compare.
Admiration for the trend:
“Otters Who Look Like Benedict Cumberbatch = literally the greatest Twitter trending topic ever”
“Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch. Thank you, the internet”
“Genius. Otters who look like Benedict Cumberbatch. This is what the internet is for.”
Quite clearly then, the philosophical question has been finally put to bed: this is in fact why the internet was first created. It is indeed almost as important now as life itself, and so deliberations into its reasoning play an integral role in society today. Now, we know. This is it. This is why.
It goes to show that while Twitter is not only an incredible resource for news, but unifying in humour too. It’s staggering to think that one woman’s musing is now being viewed at computers up and down the country – tweeters young and old are passing on this wonderfully enriching trend.
For me, it’s a welcome change to the often saddening news of death and disrepute, not to mention puerile celebrity jabber. Surely otters are far more interesting than what Kim Kardashian was doing last Thursday, or the fact that Chris Moyles is standing in for Greg James on Radio 1.
There have been some great comical trends in the past, who can forget the day #RobotPickUpLines first burst upon the Twittersphere. Why, even now, the site’s splendid users are exampling ways to end romantic ties: ‘#WaysToGetDumped’ is trending as I write this.
It seems now they are more than just news, or comical anecdotes. They sculpt our conversation during our days, both digitally and by word of mouth. I’ve heard talk of ‘trends’ on the tube countless times before, and contemplated the media furores of old many times after an evening’s hash tagging.
The trend feature was released in the summer of 2008, and according to the site, are “an algorithm that attempts to identify topics that are being talked about right now…The trends list is designed to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ news from across the world, in real-time.” And apparently, Twitter favours ‘novelty’ over ‘popularity,’ hence today’s otter craze.
Twitter trends come about when a topic increases in volume. The site tracks the amount of terms mentioned on an ongoing basis, and the trend breaks when the volume of tweets dramatically increases, and the discussion is widespread. Users now send more than 95 million tweets a day, and popular, successful trends, are measured on the velocity of conversation, and the speed in which they develop. One of the most startlingly popular topics of conversation since the social media site emerged was #Wikileaks in 2010, after the release of thousands of classified US Embassy cables.
And it’s not just trends specifically that go on to great things. Twitter up to now has played a massive role in scoping events and underlining truths and revelations, amongst other more personal feats.
In December 2008, a man called Adam Durand tweeted about his mother’s bookstore in the US, which was suffering because of the economic downturn. He wrote a blog about it, and tweeted: “if you’re in Portland do me a favor??? Buy a book at Broadway Books. No wait, buy 3 of em. I’ll buy you a burrito the next time I’m in town.”
The story took hold and made its way around Twitter. Overnight, hundreds of customers flocked to the store, which recorded its best season ever.
The following year, in December 2009, a man called Chris Strouth desperately needed a kidney transplant; he had been suffering from kidney disease for three years. In earnest, he tweeted: “S*it, I need a kidney.”
Nineteen people responded, offering to help his cause. One of them was an old acquaintance, who offered to donate one of his own if he was a match. He was, and since saved Chris’ life.
Closer to home, after the UK riots last year, Dan Thompson, Sophie Collard and Sam Duckworth wanted to organise a mass clear up. They took to Twitter to find volunteers and organise the efforts. Thereafter, communities all over the capital took to the streets to help rebuild their areas.
Sophie Collard said: “Have I started something? Are we all going to #riotcleanup? AMAZING!”
It seems that this social media phenomenon is not just a place to post thoughts, talk to celebrities or even to use as a platform for news or blogs. It’s a catalyst for change, and despite today’s otter comparison being relatively meaningless when you think about what Twitter has done in the past, it highlights more than ever that nowadays, a story, however trivial, can change something – or at least get people talking about it.Tagged in: twitter
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