Editor’s Note: This story contains offensive language. A self-described media junkie, China nerd and geek mom – Kristie Lu Stout is also an anchor/correspondent for CNN International. Join her on News Stream, each weekday at 8pm Hong Kong time, 1pm London, 8am New York.
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout says there's no shortage of douchebaggery on Twitter
Klouchebag calculates Twitter users' douche score to see how they rank
Recent survey finds only one third of a Twitter feed is actually valued by users
In CNN’s Hong Kong newsroom, right next to my desk, there’s a “douche jar.”
Inspired by the TV series “New Girl,” the “douche jar” was placed in our cubicle cluster to prevent general douchebaggery or acts of egregious self-promotion. It works like this – if you say or do something like a douchebag, you put a fistful of local currency into the jar.
In case you’re not familiar with the term, the Urban Dictionary offers up this definition. The douchebag “has an inflated sense of self-worth, compounded by a lack of social grace and self-awareness. He behaves inappropriately in public, yet is completely ignorant to how pathetic he appears to others.”
In the newsroom, the jar is usually low on cash. Most of its contributions are made in jest by a colleague out to channel a self-absorbed jerk.
But on Twitter, the “douche jar” is always full.
There are tweets that claim to be BREAKING NEWS, when they are not. There are tweets that overuse #hashtags. And tweets that are whiny and excessively personal.
The general douchebaggery across Twitter is so profound it’s prompted one user to launch “Klouchebag” – a Klout-like site that generates your douche score. For the uninitiated, Klout uses analytics to determine a user’s influence across social networks.
On Klouchebag, The ever-#winning Charlie Sheen registers as “a bit of a douchebag” with a score of 50.
For the record, I registered a score of 46 or “quite noisy” on the KB scale.
But instead of hanging my head in shame, I’ll blame the medium. Twitter is, after all, is the one-to-many platform where you can sound off on anything. A bit of pride and pretense are bound to spill forth.
Well, maybe more than a bit.
According to a recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Georgia Tech, only around one third of a Twitter feed is actually valued by users. In a survey based on 43,000 responses to find out what people like and loathe about microblog posts, they found that followers described only 36% of the rated tweets as “Worth Reading.” They thought 25% were “Not Worth Reading” and were neutral about the remainder.
As for what works and doesn’t work on the microblog? According to the study, “informative” leads the reasons for liking a tweet. “Boring” dominates the reasons for disliking – scoring higher than “arrogant” and “mean” combined.
So on Twitter, it’s worse to be a bore than a douche.
Perhaps that can explain the popularity of faux Twitter accounts that celebrate the self-love and pomposity of certain figures in popular culture.
There’s “Death Star PR,” the official mouthpiece for the Galactic Empire. Sample tweet: “It’s a beautiful day to Force choke a few idiots.”
And “The Relevant Organs” – a Twitter feed that satirizes a Chinese communist party official with gems like: “We’re confused. What part of intrusive policing, rabid anchormen, pandering websites and fenqing douchery isn’t soft power genius?”
“Not Tilda Swinton” had been issuing regular missives to her “Tildren” on how to achieve the actress’s mysterious aura and oneness with nature with tweeted tales like: “I once waded the entire length of the Nile. I lost an arm to a hippo, but won it back in a game of Charades. I am stronger for it.”
Sadly, the fake Twitter account has been retired to keep the joke from getting stale.
It’s a pity. Sometimes, we need a little douchebaggery in our lives to have a laugh at the self-centeredness of others and, thanks to downward comparison, feel better about ourselves.
I went back to Klouchebag to see how I stacked up against Donald Trump on Twitter. I outscored him by a solid 32 points.
And there’s another 20 bucks in the douche jar.