People use Twitter for different reasons. Celebrities use it to self-promote, teens use it to talk about Selena Gomez, and I use it to share my own dumb thoughts with the world. New York Times tech reporter Vindu Goel, however, often uses it to interact with brands—specifically, to yell at them when he’s displeased.
Now, lots of people use Twitter like this, and sometimes it feels like the only way to get a response. But damn—Delta, Whole Foods, Gap, Comcast, Chase—Vindu has spent a lot of time and energy yelling at brands.
Sometimes, he likes stuff:
But most of the time, he doesn’t:
When reached by phone, Goel told me that he “would dispute [my] characterization that it’s a high volume.” He added that Twitter isn’t his primary method of dealing with companies: “It’s a tiny portion of the interactions,” he said, which suggests that, somehow, there’s a lot more where that came from. In a followup message on Twitter, he clarified that he goes to Twitter “when other methods have failed or when I want to raise a broader issue that other customers are probably having.”
In our phone conversation, he told me that he’s “maybe the kind of person who, when I have a problem with the company, [I] really like to try to resolve it.” As for his status and platform as a reporter at the New York Times—one that might, say, nudge these brands toward helping him—Goel took an altruistic approach.
“I pick broader problems that the companies are having and amplify. I have more of an amplified voice and use that to try to advance the cause,” he said. “I’m not using it to solve my own particular problem.”
Given the continued vigor with which he keeps tweeting at brands, he may not be wrong about that last part.