Once pasted across the student union’s walls and forever etched into Ole Miss history, 1932 Ole Miss graduate Frank Everett’s words, “The university is respected, but Ole Miss is loved. The university gives a diploma and regretfully terminates tenure, but one never graduates from Ole Miss,” are timeless. You truly don’t ever graduate from Ole Miss, especially if you live long enough to tweet about it.
The Ole Miss Twitter community is an enigmatic, self-deprecating coterie of alumni who fire off tweets — mostly about Ole Miss sports — at an immeasurably high rate. But don’t think of Ole Miss Twitter like Facebook or Instagram. Family pictures or recollections of college events aren’t used as currency in this particular atmosphere. And as for the rules of Ole Miss Twitter, they’re unwritten.
This online community is a decentralized web of alumni, varying in age, profession and level of Ole Miss interest. It’s defined solely by those who shoulder the burden of professing digital adulation for their alma mater.
David Case is a professor in the University of Mississippi School of Law. He graduated from Ole Miss in 1985 and holds degrees from the the University of Mississippi School of Law, Columbia University and Vanderbilt University.
He’s also the consummate Ole Miss sports fan and one of many Ole Miss Twitter celebrities.
“Twitter is like the open mic night at the comedy club, except nobody can actually take the mic away from you,” Case said.
He tweets about whatever Ole Miss sport is in season, Ariana Grande and his affinity for the much-chagrined former mascot Rebel the Black Bear. His tweets are inspired by William Faulkner, who would have been a must-follow had Twitter existed in his prime.
“I’ve always been a fan of Faulkner’s stream of consciousness approach to telling stories,” Case said. “The 280 character limit gives you some room to kind of tell a story in an indirect way.”
For Case, Twitter has served a far greater purpose than memes and riffs about Ole Miss sports. He’s amassed a considerable following on the site and has forged relationships with his online friends along the way.
“I’ve become friends with people that I’ve met because of Ole Miss Twitter that I would have never had any reason to interact with,” Case said. “You don’t have to wait for alumni meetings or events or to come back to campus to connect. I mean, you just open your phone, open Twitter and you’re connected with the community.”
One of Case’s Twitter comrades is Alex McDaniel, former editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian and The Ole Miss yearbook. McDaniel is a journalist turned digital strategist and a 2010 Ole Miss graduate.
Like Case, McDaniel is an Ole Miss Twitter stronghold. She’s accumulated nearly 12,000 followers, largely because of her irreverent and self-deprecating takes on the state of Ole Miss athletics.
“We all try to be logical, and we all try to be funny. We’re just trying to out-funny each other,” McDaniel said. “The whole Ole Miss persona, and why I think it’s so unique, is this idea of self-deprecating humor that when good things happen we’re happy, but we make the joke that ‘here comes the bad.’ That’s why I think (Twitter is) such a powerful thing.”
Being an Ole Miss sports fan is a tortured existence, and understanding that is a prerequisite to joining this community. It’s the on-field and subsequently online personification of “one step forward, two (million) steps back.” But the anguish felt by Ole Miss fandom has built this online brand, and it has connected its members in the process.
“That community of people … it’s like a friendship,” McDaniel said. “But it’s not about connecting with people you went to school with. It’s about connecting with people who understand where you come from, and that’s a powerful connection. People like that, and they like to connect with anybody who understands what they’ve gone through. What better way to do that than when screaming about Ole Miss sports on Twitter?”
Aside from running a digital consulting firm, McDaniel is a also a contributing editor at Red Cup Rebellion. Known in the Twitter-verse simply as Red Cup, Red Cup Rebellion is SB Nation’s Ole Miss sports blog.
They blog about Ole Miss sports, food and booze, and they do so with unapologetic wit. Formed online in 2008 but birthed on Twitter in 2009, Red Cup Rebellion is the unquestioned president of Ole Miss Twitter.
Their brand is simple.
“We’re not hard news. We like to keep it light. We cover recruiting. We’ll cover changes and coaching searches. … But we’re totally fine with taking one for the team in terms of like, ‘Yeah we suck,’ but we can turn it around and make it a joke and make it hilarious,” Red Cup podcast host and writer Zach Berry said.
Berry graduated from Ole Miss in 2010. He occasionally runs the Red Cup Twitter account, which has more than 27,00 followers, and regularly interacts with some of the most notable names in college sports media.
“If you were new to Twitter and wanted to follow good Ole Miss people, I’d follow Red Cup and then branch out from there,” Red Cup contributor Bunkie Perkins said. Perkins graduated from the university in 2000.
Red Cup has captured fans and ostensibly built a brand by connecting with them through mutually agreed-upon terms that are focused on finding humor in the sadness of their favorite amateur college athletics teams not having success.
“I use Twitter to commiserate with other Ole Miss folks and sports people in general in the ridiculousness that can be Ole Miss Athletics,” Perkins said. “My disappointment with Ole Miss Athletics manifests into stupid jokes most times. And I think that there are a lot of really funny, depressed Ole Miss fans that are on Twitter.”
Ultimately, Ole Miss Twitter, bound together by perpetual despair, has fostered a community of individuals who have parlayed their online friendships and mutual alma maters into genuine camaraderie.
“Twitter helps really foster a sense of community,” Red Cup Rebellion founder Bob Lynch said. “It allows us to more freely express our sort of identity with other like-minded people. … We have proven that it’s completely fine and acceptable to not take Ole Miss stuff all that seriously. It’s not life or death. In fact, it’s kind of silly.”