Using Twitter for evil- or documenting an old man’s thoughts?

A few days ago, I read an article about an unusual Twitter account called “@OldManSearch.” Someone who is likely trying to piggyback off of the success of @ShitMyDadSays created a Twitter account for his 81-year-old father. But he didn’t explain to his father that it was a Twitter account (or even, what Twitter actually is). He told his father that it was Google. So, everything that his father tries to Google will show up as tweets.

As of 1:20 pm Thursday, the Twitter account has 66,354 followers. It’s not following anyone.

Of course, there are questions to the legitimacy of this. Wouldn’t the father figure out pretty quickly that none of his searches were actually yielding results? Wouldn’t he see that the word “Google” is nowhere on the page, and that “Twitter” was? I wish there was a way to contact the creator of this and learn more, and find out if it’s even real.

Why did the son do this? Sure, it’s funny. Sure, other people who have done similar things have gotten book deals and sitcoms out of it. But it’s kind of mean, and exposing his dad’s secret thoughts and curiosities to the world.

But let’s assume that it is real. The things that the father “searches” include a range of things one might expect ANYONE to Google (such as weather), but it also gives a peek into the mind of someone who appears to be lonely, confused, and – well, old. There are funny searches, like: “how many types of omlettes are there?” “princess swimsuit breasts” and “is alex trebek really smart.”

There are small series’ of searches that are funny in context: “empty threes” and then… “MP3.” Or: “lipiter,” “lipitour” and finally “LIPITOR” (can’t you just see him getting angry?). There are old man searches, like “cold toes” “fixing eyeglasses tape” “adult education age maximum” and “night blindness.”

But then there’s this:

Apr 27: face book on Shirley Tarnow la porte high school class of 1948
Apr 29: erase or forget a memory
May 5: is Shirley Tarnow a widow?

May 19: Shirley Tarnow obituary
May 19: Shirley Tarnow-Schmidt obituary
May 19: Shirley Schmidt obituary

Based on some of his other searches, I think this man lives in Indianapolis. I’ve tried googling this Shirley Tarnow person. Who was she? A high school sweetheart? I can’t find anything about her, but I’m dying to know. The searches/tweets alone tell such a powerful story in so few words: He presumably went to high school with her. He wants to reconnect. He doesn’t even know if she’s alive. Then he wants to know about how to erase memories. Then we find out that Shirley married someone  else – and we still don’t know if she’s alive. And I find that heartbreaking. I really hope that if this is real, this man’s son is reading these tweets, and that he helps him find the answers he’s seeking. If this guy’s son gets a book deal out of this, I really hope he tells the right story.

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5 Responses to Using Twitter for evil- or documenting an old man’s thoughts?

  1. Laura Fisher says:

    I really do love @oldmansearch and want to believe that it’s real! I took care of my dad after he had a series of multistrokes in early 90’s and by careful manipulation of the television remote had him completely convinced that HILARY Clinton was POTUS until his speech therapist stomped on my buzz!

    Actually, there is now a second twitter @Search_Result that provides answers to the searches. “The Internet” responded that Shirley wasn’t listed as a dead soul so I sent an email to the La Porte High School alumni organization to see if Shirley is a fairy tale. I’m interested in seeing how all of this unfolds! Nevertheless, I am nominating @oldmansearch as the local Indianapolis twitter star of the year. He certainly has captured the world’s imagination and is splendidly entertaining us!

    • Kristin says:

      I saw the Search_result account. Too funny! (I liked the “warm socks” comment on it…)

      Let me know what you hear from La Porte High School! I looked at a list online of people who had graduated from there in 1947-48, and there were several people named Norman, but no Norman N. I really want to know this whole story!!

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  3. jeo says:

    So… any results on the Shirley search?

    • Kristin says:

      I haven’t heard anything yet, and I’ve been looking. There have definitely been a lot of other people looking too (at least, based on the blog hits I’ve gotten from it). I hope someone finds out!

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