An oral history of Weird Twitter

Five years ago Buzzfeed tackled the seemingly impossible task of telling the oral history Weird Twitter.

What is Weird Twitter?

“This is where the language of Twitter gets created, where its funniest jokes come from, and where its worst tendencies are isolated, rebroadcast, and sometimes destroyed. It’s a meritocratic place where genders, ages, backgrounds, and jobs are either absent or distorted beyond recognition. It is to Twitter what people used to imagine 4Chan was to the rest of the internet: its best, and most powerful, creative engine.”

Today we are here to supplement and update this original telling with some context from our very own Echo, which gives you the ability to dive into the full Twitter archive.

It’s our very own Twitter way-back machine, so hop in with us as we go on this strange and questionably fulfilling journey.

Got questions or something we missed? Tell us about it on Twitter @UnionMetrics.

The state of Weird Twitter in 2018

In the 2013 piece, the Weird Twitter interviewees made it clear that they hated the “Weird Twitter” label.

Unfortunately for them, it still exists.

Some of the Weird Twitter accounts linked in the Buzzfeed piece have private accounts now, or are no longer active, or have been suspended. Some of them are still trolling corporate accounts or the same celebrities many mentioned 5 years ago.

@dril, who is arguably the most recognizable Weird Twitter account with such classic tweets as

was doxxed last fall, and is anonymous no more, though many of his fans and followers refused to learn his identity and most articles written about it- including the one linked- made discovering it optional.

What else has gone down over the years? We sampled Echo for highlights.

Greatest hits

Over the past five years Weird Twitter has seen its share of online adventures, including but not limited to:

A conspiracy related to GamerGate that they were being paid by Gawker. (To do what this author confesses that she is not entirely sure; she was unwilling to dive into the specifics of this one. The point is that you know you’ve made it as a cultural entity when there are conspiracy theories about you.)

In 2015, @johnnysun wrote a book and got it published and NPR covered it, which marks a solid move into the mainstream for Weird Twitter

In 2016, a Weird Twitter joke made it into the election cycle. As a fact. No, really.

And in 2017? Reality officially got weirder than Weird Twitter.

Time is a flat circle, etc.

The influence of Weird Twitter

The Buzzfeed piece from 2013 touches on something that’s still very true: Weird Twitter’s style of jokes and sense of humor have very much made it into the mainstream. Comedians who are or were part of Weird Twitter have gone on to mainstream success, like Rob Delaney and his show Catastrophe, Johnny Sun’s book, or Patricia Lockwood’s book Priestdaddy (named a NYT 10 Best Books of the Year in 2017).

You could also arguably point to Weird Twitter as inspiration for the voice some brands have adopted on Twitter, going from being trolled to doing the trolling, like Wendy’s.

Or simply basking in absurdist humor like MoonPie.

So whether you like, hate, or simply deeply misunderstand Weird Twitter it has undoubtedly had some influence on our current culture.

Which is pretty weird, tbh.

Photo by Umanoide on Unsplash