Twitter helps push the boundaries of storytelling

Memeing of Life: Social network’s segmented threads make for unparalleled suspense

Avril Lavigne’s hit ‘Girlfriend’ was put to rather innovative use last week on Twitter

Avril Lavigne’s hit ‘Girlfriend’ was put to rather innovative use last week on Twitter

 

While Twitter is mostly synonymous with cat memes, reaction gifs and the odd declaration of war, there are many using its bite-sized constraints to create more substantial fare; sharp, shortform stories that would be impossible in any other medium, and on Twitter have formed an entire culture.

Last year we encountered some stellar entries to the form, most notably the still-ongoing creep-a-thon that was the multimedia horror tale that was Dear David. This year a followed in the same vein, and this month alone has delivered more than a few genius additions to the canon, using Twitter’s segmented threads as a tension-building device.

Let’s be brutally honest, if a boring old declaration of a war describing bombs as “nice” and “smart” were delivered on paper rather than in a tweet, little about it would change. The same just couldn’t be said for those Twitter threads that lead the reader on a rumble tumble pathway of twists and turns.

So it was that @MeAndMyBigMouth told an intriguing story of working in a record shop in Southend, drip-feeding the details of their quest to apprehend a dastardly vandal at work among the classical racks.

Of course, no crime story was as riveting, as heart-stopping, as spiritedly spellbinding, as Zac Toscani’s recent true crime saga The Stolen Lunch.

Toscani began his now legendary epic with the sort of bombastic opening for which most crime writers would trade a lesser ventricle.

“Co-worker got his lunch stolen” he uttered breathlessly, as the world’s paranoid office workers inched forward in their swivel chairs. “They’ve agreed to let him watch the security camera tape. This is the most excited I’ve ever been at any job ever. Ever”.

I’ll not spoil it here, but the genius of Toscani’s thread –which has garnered more than half a million likes in two weeks – was its blend of mystery and mundanity, turning low-level office drama into a narrative as compelling as any spy thriller. All of which earned the saga the enviable nickname “Fridge Of Spies”.

Finally, on the polar opposite end of the mundanity spectrum was the sheer jaw-unhinging majesty of comedian Guy Kelly, AKA @brainmage.

Perhaps best known by his display name Prof Bison Sexhorn, Kelly this week revealed his ENTIRE last month’s postings were part of one long, intricate and utterly bonkers prank.

“HEY! You” he wrote. “Yes, you. Go back and read the first word of each of my tweets. And keep going. And going. And going”.

Anyone following this instruction was soon to be stunned, bemused and, above all, impressed to discover the otherwise sane human had been seeding 4 entire weeks’ worth of posts with the lyrics to Avril Lavigne’s 2007 slice of pop-punk perfection, Girlfriend.

Long story short; if that’s not pushing the boundaries of modern culture, then what is?

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