Lance Armstrong has 2,537,691 followers on twitter. He used to have 2,537,692 until he blocked me. That’s right, of those 2,537,692 people, he singled me out, blocked me, thus preventing me from following his announcements to the world each time he eats, sleeps, changes what’s on his playlist, pees, or pees in a cup for the doping controls.
I’m sure you’re wondering how this came to be. First some background: I don’t like Lance Armstrong. I know, shocking, right? You may think I don’t like him because I think he’s a doper*. If you thought that was the reason, you would be wrong. Doping has little to do with it. I don’t like him because he’s a jerk. I won’t go into them, but I have my reasons.
*If you’re head is still buried in the sand about him doping, especially in light of the Landis allegations detailing how they would microdose with EPO during the Tour in order to maintain hematocrit and reticulocyte levels within acceptable parameters, you’re fooling yourself. Hematocrit should not rise as a result of doing a three week stage race, but that’s exactly what Lance’s did during last year’s tour, according to information he posted on his own website.
But I’m not the only person who thinks LA is a jerk. I’m not the only one who regularly suggests he’s on the sauce. So why single me out? Well apparently his fragile little ego can’t handle heckling. And when he would post particularly ridiculous tweets, I would respond in the same manner Pat or Dug or any number of you would hopefully respond to me in the comments if I said something stupid on this blog: I would make fun of him. And apparently his skin is quite thin, because it only took a handful of comments.
It began sincerely enough when LA announced to the world that he had given a Trek Madone to French President Nikolas Sarkozy, and that this was somehow going to help cure cancer. So I responded:
Then, instead of, I don’t know, using Google or Wikipedia, Lance, who apparently missed that part in school, decided that the most efficient way to find out what was the first official day of summer was to ask two and a half million people all at once:
What's the first official day of summer?
To which I responded:
Then when he got his answer, even though all but probably six (five of which were in his entourage) of those two and a half million people already knew it, he decided to perform the public service of making sure they knew:
First day of summer? June 21.
To which I responded:
@lancearmstrong No shit.
Then in response to this story, according to which French anti-doping president Pierre Bordry accused UCI drug testers of favoring Astana during last year’s tour, I wrote the following:
@lancearmstrong "Bordry accused UCI drug-testers of favoring Lance Armstrong's former team Astana..." $100k? What a bargain.*
*Lance Armstrong made a “donation” to the UCI. He claims it was to support their anti-doping efforts. According to Landis, it was a payoff to get them to look the other way at a positive.
I really shouldn’t take credit for this one, because it was Rachel’s idea. But on 21 June, I posted the following:
@lancearmstrong Today is the first official day of summer. In case you forgot.
And after the astonishingly bad officiating during the group stage of the World Cup, in which two goals scored by the USA were disallowed, one for no reason at all, one for a dubious off-side call, I posted this:
It finally all came to a head after LA gushed over the beautiful scenery during his training rides in the Pyrenees and pointed everyone to a video of the ride:
Video from yesterday's recon up the Port de Bales. Beautiful up there. http://bit.ly/aMB3iG
I watched the video. All it showed was LA, as seen from the window of the team car, with a couple minutes of Johan driving the team car. So I responded:
@lancearmstrong It may indeed be beautiful there, but all the video showed was your ugly mug with a cameo of Johan. Not so much beautiful.
Then earlier this week, I read on Velonews that LA had announced via Twitter that this would be his last time racing Le Tour. And I thought “wait a minute—I didn’t see that on Twitter.” And then I thought “come to think of it, I haven’t seen LA announce what he’s eating for breakfast, that he’s sitting in an airport terminal, that his phone just rang, or any other exciting and noteworthy events that two and a half million people are just dying to know about. Why? The guy’s as regular as three bowls of bran flakes when it comes to announcing the mundane, but I’ve seen none of it.”
So I clicked over to twitter, and I looked at who I’m following, and I didn’t see LA’s name. And I thought “this is weird, I’ve thought about un-following LA because anything worth knowing from twitter gets reported by the regular press anyway, but I wasn’t quite ready to stop heckling him for the more ridiculous selections from his constant drivel. I don’t remember un-following him, but he isn’t there.”
Out of curiosity, I navigated to his page and clicked the follow button. And this is what I got:
“This user has blocked you from following them*.”
*I hate the use of them as a singular pronoun. Twitter does it. Facebook does it. Seriously, how hard is it to include gender as part of someone’s profile and add logic to your software** to generate the appropriate gender-specific pronoun rather than taking this lazy and incorrect approach. “He or she” and “him or her,” though clunky, are both better alternatives than they or them when referring to the singular***.
**I’m in the software business, so I know the answer is: not that hard at all. Unless you’re lazy. Or simply unperturbed by mismatched diction. I think of these people as the kind who don’t wear underwear because they don’t want to have to wash it.
***Of course in LA’s case, since he has an entourage, the plural may in fact be correct.
So evidently seven is not only the number of times LA has won Le Tour, but it’s also the number of sarcastic comments he can tolerate on twitter before his armadillo-like skin is penetrated and he has to single out, from the two and a half million followers, one sarcastic and annoying critic in a sea of sycophants.
LA claimed in his first book that if it came down to a contest of who could suffer the longest, he knew he could always win. Well he and I were having a contest of sorts to see who could suffer the longest—could I suffer his incessant tweeting of non-events longer than he could suffer my sarcastic responses? Guess we know who won that one.
And for the record, my snarkiness is 100% clean. I got this way through years of cynicism and did not artificially enhance my annoyingness in any way. I am the most tested smartass in the world, and I have never tested positive for a banned substance. Now what color jersey do I get? And which beer—it better be a particularly bitter one—wants to sign me up as its spokesman?