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The Stupidity Of Vigilante Tweeting

A Snarketing post by Ron Shevlin, Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors

Learned a new term the other day: Vigilante tweeting. 

According to an article on PR Daily, vigilante tweeting is:

“Getting revenge by publishing the details of a loudmouth’s ‘private conversations’ to their Twitter feeds and other social networks. Let’s say I’m seated next to a loudmouth attorney on a bus one morning, and he won’t shut up about his latest case. I could punish the attorney’s lack of discretion by sending out a ‘vigilante tweet’ containing the lawyer’s name and the details of the case he revealed on the phone.”

My take: I’ve heard of some stupid things before, but this takes the cake. 

First off, lawyers don’t take buses. This kind of blows the whole example the author gives, but let’s roll with it a little longer. 

Second, how is that the author knows the name of this so-called attorney? By the time you’re clued in to some loudmouth’s pri-blic conversation (there’s a term that won’t stick), you didn’t really catch his name.

Third, the vast majority of these loudmouth conversations are not hush-hush details of the government’s case against Taliban terrorists. It’s conversations from some bozo about his drinking exploits from last night. So he probably wants you to publicize it on Twitter for him.


In the scheme of things, the three reasons above are the weakest reasons for why vigilante tweeting is a stupid idea. 

Here’s the best reason: Because your followers couldn’t care less about this conversation, and would rather not waste their time reading about it. 

Vigilante tweeting is a symptom of a bigger issue in the social mediasphere. 

The problem? Too many people have nothing better to do than sit on a bus, tweet stupid shi*t they overhear someone else saying, and needlessly call attention to themselves (not the loudmouth).


It’s sad. 

The old mantra of social media was “join the conversation.” Plenty of folks advised social media newbies to “add value.”

Now it’s “hey! look at me!”

I can only speak for myself, but I’m willing to bet that are a lot of people who will agree with me: I don’t care that your plane is delayed, I don’t care that you’re at [restaurant/SBUX/hotel/whereever], and I really don’t care that there’s an effing moron sitting near you talking loudly. DEAL WITH IT. Don’t annoy me with the little things that annoy you. 

Are you really that starved for attention that you have to engage in vigilante tweeting? Are you really stupid enough to believe that you’re somehow “punishing” the loudmouth? 

The only people you’re “punishing” are your followers. And I can only hope that they punish you by unfollowing you. 

Ron ShevlinRon Shevlin is Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors. Get a copy of his best-selling book, Smarter Bank: Why Money Management is More Important Than Money Movement. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter at @rshevlin.

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  1. HURRAY! Yeah, I’m yelling.. great post Ron, especially “The old mantra of social media was “join the conversation.” Plenty of folks advised social media newbies to “add value.”
    Now it’s “hey! look at me!”
    I would only add to these folks, get a life – a real life.

  2. I like your novel take on “punishing your followers”. I don’t think too many people think about this when they’re tweeting or posting this type of content. There’s no value in it. It just adds to the noise and gives the medium a bad name.

  3. Rich Riker says:

    Isn’t this exactly a metaphor of what the internet has become? Now any idiot with a smart phone or an internet connection can extend their circle of annoyance?

  4. everyone would be better off if they read a book while riding the bus/train instead of tweeting!

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