Twitter Navel Gazers Taking Over Trending Topics

Have you ever noticed that Twitter can be a little… self-absorbed at times? It seems like in the past year or so, trending topics has been slowly taken over by navel gazers – people commenting on a trending topic being a trending topic.

In the past year, hashtags became the most popular trending topic category on Twitter. They beat out entertainment, which was the reigning topic in 2009, as well as politics, business and tech.

If you’ve ever clicked on a hashtag trending topic out of curiosity – or you’ve participated in one yourself – you’ll have likely noticed that they’re sort of like little games: people respond to #ifihadsuperpowers to say what they’d do if they could fly around the world; they dream about what they would do #ifihadamilliondollars, and they argue about #thebestbandintheworld.

These Twitter games are fun, frivolous and usually pretty lighthearted. But they point to an interesting trend: hashtag trending topics are often related to Twitter itself. Despite its uses – and there are many – as a tool for finding breaking news, Twitter is also a diversion. And Twitter users tend to want to talk about just how much fun they’re having while tweeting.

Aside from the hashtag conversations that are often at the top of the trending topic list, there are often tags relating to world news, as well as some famous (or not so famous) names of people and places. And while these generally include links and commentary that is relevant to something – even if it’s just a celeb’s birthday – happening in real-time, there is also a bit of that Twitter self-absorption creeping in.

It could be just me, but I’ve noticed more and more people commenting on a trending topic – whether a Twitter-specific hashtag topic or a global event – being a trending topic. Take a look at the tweets below for some examples of what I mean:

There’s nothing wrong with being surprised that something is trending, or wanting to comment on it. However, it’s an interesting glimpse into the psychology of the Twitter community. They like to point out the obvious, especially when it relates to their own community.

I’m actually not sure if there’s a ton of value in simply pointing out that someone or something is a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, on Twitter. Perhaps bringing attention to local trending topics has some value, but everyone has access to the worldwide trends, so it can be safely assumed that everyone already knows what’s trending. Likewise for asking why something is trending – a simple search on will reveal why, usually within the top three tweets.

Have you ever commented on a trending topic being a trending topic?