31 March 2011

Me, Ian Sample and not quite everyone I know (aka Twitter)

Let's be clear. I don't always ask people I've never met to insult me.

But you see, there's a hero out there. He's an ordinary guy, he doesn't take himself too seriously. But he's got a great idea. I'm considering stealing it. Excuse me, I'm considering... flattering him by imitating it. His name is Bill Ryan.

He goes to book signings, and rather than just letting the authors write "Dear Bill, Enjoy," he asks them to insult him. And because people who have written books are, without fail, writers, some of them insult him quite wonderfully. Amy Sedaris, of course, manages a brief, punchy, tarty insult that makes you feel a little bit like vomiting.

Once he has his insult in hard copy, he writes a blog post about the author, the book, the signing event, the insult. It's a brilliant idea, isn't it?

But if an author refuses to insult him, he takes them to task on his blog. He doesn't appreciate people taking themselves too seriously, when they've reached a success at writing that he wants and probably won't get... keep that in mind. The taking of self seriously is not something that this guy is into. And the older I get, the more I reckon it's not something I'm into either. Definitely a hero.

I learned about this guy because of Twitter. Yes. It's a Twitter post. But, you see, you have to finish reading it, because I pulled you in with that intriguing first line. Go ahead, you can go back, read it again, remind yourself why you're going to finish this.

Back? Great.

I follow Ian Sample on Twitter. He's a science writer for the Guardian, and he's on the Guardian's Science Weekly podcast. He makes fun of Alok Jha and puts in good stories. He seems like a nice person. I wouldn't ordinarily expect someone like him to insult me.

But, last week, he sent out this post:

I read the link, learned about Bill Ryan, and didn't really give it a thought.

This was not going so well.

As you can see, I am only completing a contractual obligation at this point.

I was starting to worry that I would have to write a harsh post about Ian Sample, a writer and radio person I like so much. He wasn't going to insult me. I wasn't sure what I'd gotten myself into here. Hadn't he asked for more of people asking writers to insult them?? Isn't he a writer? Get ready for a big Nija cop-out.

But what is this? Could it be?

My excitement is, I think, only slightly out of proportion.

Though, I was a little disappointed that it was neither science-based, nor about my weight or intelligence. I mean, this guy CANNOT take direction, am I right?

He's probably just got that 21st-century memory we've all got. So much information we can't remember a ridiculous tweet we received 20 minutes ago.

Sadly, I really felt like I'd had a victory. My life feels sad when I see through it like this...

The next day was Friday, and on Twitter, it is a convention to tell your followers who you think is cool to follow. It's called FollowFriday. There's also ScienceSunday, which was more recently started.

I thought it was only right:

(It was 5:30am, and I had to get on a bus at 7am for a fieldtrip to Orfordness with my Documentary and Sensory Media course. That is for another post, another week.)

I'm already addicted to Twitter. Now I'm already itching for another Twitter insult. People I follow: get excited. get ready. 

If Bill Ryan ever sees this: I love your insult books, I think it's a great idea, and I just really like it. I wasn't thinking when I started copying it, but if I get insulted any more this way, it'll all be down to you. Jerk.

This is all getting a bit meta for me. I'm out of here--


  1. this is awesome and ridiculous.

  2. Truly Lem, this is a riot of craziness. What's going on over there in Manchester?!

  3. Oh, it's not just Manchester. I'm pretty sure the Guardian offices are in London now, and Twitter is freaking everywhere. Got a response from Mr. Bill Ryan himself from NY, actually, will update soon!