Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Are you still writing 2012 on your tweets?

By Mark Peters


Twitter is a joke factory, where professional comics and civilian jesters crank out one-liners round the clock.

In that joke factory, there are popular models. Every day, new jokes play on phrases such as “Dance like no one is watching,” “Sex is like pizza,” and “When life hands you lemons.” While the repetition can be maddening, I’m impressed by how, inevitably, there’s always another good joke lurking in even the most tired formula. “Give a man a fish” variations are endless, but there’s always a fresh catch, like this tweet by Erikka Innes:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/nerdgirlcomedy/status/289647637689417728"]
Some formulas are seasonal. The arrival of 2013 brings variations of a formula I presume originated as a simple observation: “It’s X year, but I’m still writing X-1 year on my checks.” Some use the snowclone-like formula to point out its own exhaustion:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/gordonshumway/status/284811526521634816"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/bazecraze/status/286202581875830784"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/ScottLinnen/status/286010517355638784"]
People write these kind of tweets about every joke formula, so I’d say pointing out hackiness has become its own form of hackery. Another option is using this format to comment on how checks have mostly gone the way of dinosaurs. This was a popular theme this year:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/SarahThyre/status/286212776907657216"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/blondediva11/status/286013231410053120"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/TheNardvark/status/285952798061916161"]
When jokesters move beyond the world of checks by replacing the word check, the humor gets more humorous:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/StellaRtwot/status/289368693039853569"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/jeffkreisler/status/288355303651688448"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/RyanPurtill/status/287388492416311296"]
Others keep the check part and replace 2012. In some cases, the subject matter stays close to the world of money, usually implying the tweeter is broke or a deadbeat:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/highwaytohelv/status/289406492392689664"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/slackmistress/status/287011969070931968"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/Ramsobot/status/286133193332109312"]
Sometimes 2012 gets replaced with something a lot more creative:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/HitlerPuncher/status/287068115773304833"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/ApocalypseHow/status/286527074372550656"]
A double replacement adds more possibilities:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/OhNoSheTwitnt/status/288310492064264192"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/sween/status/285910067973324801"]
And there’s plenty of room for absurd silliness, intriguing questions, and wordplay galore:

[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/lanyardtwerk/status/286493912959438848"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/DanKennedy_NYC/status/286192750053974016"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/288327061561569281"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/BeerBaron4life/status/286252884704763905"] [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/TheDweck/status/286159837564375041"]
Love it or loathe it, this joke format will likely survive as long as we have years. Even in 3013, I bet we’ll still be writing “Please have sex with me” into the programming of our robots.

Mark Peters is a lexicographer, humorist, rabid tweeter, and language columnist for Visual Thesaurus. He also writes Lost Batman Tales. Read his previous OUPblog posts.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only language, lexicography, word, and etymology articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

Recent Comments

There are currently no comments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *