Paul Atkins, a resident of Ryde on the Isle of Wight, yesterday became the first person to be banned from the social networking site ‘Twitter’ for being far too dull. The Twitter site is an example of ‘micro blogging’ in which users post short messages in the style of mobile phone text messages throughout the day in answer to the simple question ‘What are you doing?’. It rose to prominence during the recent hotel sieges in Mumbai when eye witnesses used it to keep up a stream of reportage from the scene using their mobile phones, posting useful comments like ‘I hear gunfire’.
Mr Atkins, who has recently retired from a mid-level post in the IOW Council’s accounts department, seems to have had somewhat less exciting events to report. Undeterred, he set about ‘Tweeting’ his every observation, from rising in the morning to when he went to sleep, even setting his alarm to wake him in the middle of the night to ‘Tweet’ about his dreams. This led to his waking Tweet always starting ‘Another disturbed night, feeling tired’. Other typical posts were ‘Chicken breasts on 2 for one at Co-Op’, ‘I can see a ferry’, ‘Semolina or Rice pudding? Can’t decide!’, and ‘Toilet blocked AGAIN, must remember 3 wipe rule’.
At first his posts gained a cult following as word spread amongst other keen Twitter users that this might be the most boring man in the UK, but the novelty soon wore off. At his height Mr Atkins was posting so frequently that the Isle of Wight’s mobile phone network was slowing noticeably, and the Twitter data centre was adding storage capacity at an alarming rate just to keep up. As users began to complain that just viewing his daily log of banal non-events was eating up most of their monthly broadband allowance, the service finally pulled the plug on his account.
A spokesman for Twitter said, ‘When Stephen Fry gets stuck in a lift and posts a picture we get 50,000 clicks and national news coverage. But 20 posts an hour with video from a 65-year-old nonentity with his arm stuck round the U-bend of the toilet? No business model can sustain that.’