In Defense of Twitter’s ‘Reply Guy’

Online harassers have poisoned Twitter, but we can still find space for normal conversation, right?

Andrew Paul
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readAug 26, 2019

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Photo: filadendron/Getty Images

Hello. My name is Andrew, and I’m a Reply Guy.

Twitter is my life’s one major addiction. The same way gambling addicts feed quarters into a slot machine hoping for a jackpot, I refresh my timeline for breaking news, calls for pitches, snarky jokes, and other miscellaneous inanities more often than I care to admit. (There’s actually plenty of research into this comparison if you’re looking to pity me even more.)

Until recently, a browser tab was almost always open to my timeline while I worked my dead-end day job, and my phone still makes the app all too available for distractions throughout the day. It adds up to an embarrassingly large amount of time that I could otherwise spend, you know, productively. Perhaps, dare I say, even happily. But, of course, I don’t. I just keep tweeting into the void along with everyone else.

I also still reply to people. A lot. Mostly to people I know who follow me back, but often to larger names and personalities I’ve never met but one-way follow, thus technically (and horrifically) fulfilling the requirements of the much-maligned Reply Guy.

The Reply Guy moniker, we are told, is something we never want bestowed on us for our online sins. At best, it implies a pathetic, if harmless, combination of desperation, entitlement, and self-delusion. At its worst, it encapsulates not only all of the above, but also harassment horndog vibes that can quickly go from uncomfortable to downright abusive in less than 280 characters.

How did we get to this point, where those using a platform designed for conversation are so wary of human interaction?

Most of the discussion surrounding the Reply Guy concept has focused on the latter — those men who respond in an overly familiar manner to women they don’t know — and how pathetic, annoying, and thirsty it is. (Those opinions are, in fact, correct. Do not be that guy.) But the online stigma around RGs often also extends to anyone replying to people they don’t know in real life, especially public figures. The…

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Andrew Paul
Human Parts

a gigantic peepshow of utter horror, but extraordinarily to the point. | www.andrewpaulwrites.com