Slate Readers Collect Their Favorite Orphan Tweets

Slate Readers Collect Their Favorite Orphan Tweets

Slate Readers Collect Their Favorite Orphan Tweets

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Slate's Culture Blog
June 18 2009 7:39 AM

Slate Readers Collect Their Favorite Orphan Tweets

In a Slate article last week, I described the phenomenon of the orphan tweet : a post left behind by someone who signs up for Twitter, tweets once, and is never heard from again. With the help of Slate intern Jeremy Singer-Vine, I found several thousand such tweets. Our list was nowhere near exhaustive, however, so we invited readers to send along their own examples.


Ryan from Los Angeles wrote in to say that his favorite orphan tweet belongs to BretEastonEllis , whose lone missive reads "Nothing." As Ryan notes, this is not the real Bret Easton Ellis, though the novelist does have a Twitter account. EastonEllis , set up recently at the suggestion of The New Yorker 's Dana Goodyear, is home to eight updates.


Stewart from Atlanta flagged a rather puckish orphan tweet, by the user 11am , which reads "getting ready for 11:01." Not that funny—until you consider that whenever someone tweets about planning to do something @11am, they inadvertently link to 11am's profile. This happens a lot .    

On June 8, Matt from Orange, Calif., e-mailed to drop a dime on his buddy Kevin , who at the time had only this tweet to his name: "Watching Late night with Jimmy Fallon." (Fans of Fallon, an enthusiastic Twitterer , are surely responsible for untold orphan tweets.) Apparently tipped off about Matt's e-mail, Kevin posted a second tweet ("Sick of Twitter") on June 9, in what seems to have been an attempt to avoid being called out in this follow-up post. Nice try, Kevin.

By far the best excuse we heard for tweeting only once came from Zach , a corporal with the Marine Corps who's currently stationed in San Diego. Actually, Zach had two reasons for quitting, the first being his preference for Facebook over Twitter. The second: "My new membership happening in close proximity to my deployment to Iraq (and thus spotty Internet access)." Can't argue with that.

One of the strangest examples we cited in the original article was from user kttheet , whose lone, mysterious tweet read "Wearing a gigantic t-shirt (2XL)." To our delight, Katie from New York e-mailed to take credit for the post. Katie is on the editorial staff of O, The Oprah Magazine , though she joined up well before her boss helped make Twitter a household word. In fact, she may have been too early an adopter. "I guess I stopped because, at the time (I see that the post was from April '08), nobody even cared about Twitter," she writes.

As for the gigantic T-shirt, Katie reports that it was tossed into the audience at a live performance by the comedic duo Tim and Eric . "Being a superfan, I felt moved to wear it despite it being big enough to fit 2 of me," she writes. Skeptical readers, rest assured: In order to verify that Katie really was the wearer of the gigantic T-shirt, we asked her to post a second tweet. She graciously obliged. It reads : "My clothing is now appropriately sized."

Cick here to see a Google spreadsheet of the 2,848 orphan tweets Slate turned up. Found a great one of your own? Retweet it with the hashtag #orphantweet .

John Swansburg is a senior editor at the Atlantic.