If you have been on Twitter for a week or two, one thing you must have noticed is the thirst to trend. Everyone wants to be relevant and in a global, viral, unforgettable way. Many brands and businesses even go as far as paying for people to make their ideas trend. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
So when an innocuous phrase seems to capture the attention of the entire TwitterNg overnight, without any big name endorsement, grand budget or media team, people are curious.
‘Shaking the table’ is no great poetic marvel. It is a simple idiom that describes disruption, interference, meddling with the norm. It is odd that its documentation in the Urban Dictionary is as early as October 2017, but that would not be enough to make it viral.
For the phrase to capture the collective attention of thousands (millions) of people it needed a unique use, some synergy, an ability to deliver more than mere expression; it found this in the quote tweet.
Specifically the quote tweet used to comment on a subtweet.
Subtweets are as old as Twitter. They provide a subtle way of voicing ideas that are potentially embarrassing or controversial with little of the backlash. Without mentioning names or triggering anyone’s mentions one can effectively deliver barbs, abuse, shade or any combination of the three.
But most subtweets lack context and are not as effective as they could be.
Enter the quote tweet where added context can be provided.
But how to provide this context in a witty/satirical way? Cue ‘This table you are shaking” and in an instant the subtweet is united with it’s target in a witty/silly/more memorable manner.
The first use of the phrase, as a quoted tweet to give more context is credited to @MallamSawyerr. The origin tweet is not entirely ‘safe for work’ but it captured the imagination of a small set of users, one of them was @Olumuyiwa__ .
Olumuyiwa started using the phrase to add some context of his own. The first time, he used it in quotation marks as attribution to an unknown source. When the phrases popped up on @Olumuyiwa__ feed it was barely noticed. The phrase remained largely unnoticed the next time Olumuyiwa used it but he stayed with the phrase until it broke through.
With that the phrase took wing and within days, there was an epidemic on the TL. It wasn’t only food on the table. There were babes, guys, activists-turned-government-spokesmen, On Air Personalities, BellaNaija, even the users of the phrase it self.
In a chat with @Olumuyiwa__ he was quick to say he wasn’t the inventor of the phrase but someone who saw its potential and stayed with it till it caught on. Our chat went:
Me: It looks like you invented a trend..
Olumuyiwa: I didn’t invent it. I saw it somewhere and it stuck, ‘this table you are shaking has food on it’ it seemed really apt at the time.
Me: But you stayed with it till it caught on…
Olumuyiwa: Yes, I did, using it persistently till it racked up 200RTs, that I can take credit for 😂
Me: Absolutely. So what next? What do you think will happen after this?
Olumuyiwa: Nothing else. Just one of the many definitive but passing fads of social media.
Me: I quite agree.
Already, many people are fed up with the phrase. But I think it still has some more miles to go before joining the history books especially as some people are just falling in love with it.
What better way to mock the next losers of a Champions League match, National election or Tweetfight than to remind them, they are pawns on a shaking table, in the next avalanche of subtweets?
Chats have been modified for clarity