1. Somebody, somewhere does something bad.
2. Somebody spots the bad thing.
3. At first, people mostly just think it’s a bit weird.
4. But gradually, the anger builds…
5. …and builds…
6. …and builds…
7. …and builds.
8. Famous Twitter users with large followings start to retweet it. It has now reached a tipping point and cannot be stopped.
9. People start sending angry messages to the wrong Twitter account.
10. Somebody starts a petition.
11. Somebody else starts another petition.
12. There are now lots of petitions. Nobody is entirely sure which petition to sign.
13. People start doing satire about it.
14. Some people try to calm things down a little bit. It doesn’t go well.
15. The issue makes it onto the trending list.
16. The media starts to cover the story.
17. A boycott is suggested.
18. Politicians jump on the bandwagon.
19. People start using the bad thing as an excuse to talk about their own pet issues. Again.
20. Somebody writes a defence of the people who did the bad thing.
21. People coming to it late desperately try to work out what’s happened.
22. The story starts to dominate the media.
23. Focusing on the key issue, social media “experts” rub their hands with glee at a new case study to write about.
24. Eventually, after hours of silence, the people who did the bad thing apologise. To everybody. At once.
25. And even though it’s not a very good apology, it seems to defuse the situation just enough that the Twitterstorm starts to die down.
26. Until the next day a celebrity who’s only just seen it and can’t be bothered to check what the outcome was starts the whole thing up again.
27. Fortunately, at this point somebody invents a hashtag game and everybody gets distracted.
28. And eventually, everything calms down and returns to normal.
29. But then the next day, somebody, somewhere does something bad…
Tom Phillips is the UK editorial director for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
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