Staff writer Jake Tibbetts spent the past few days asking himself a question that has haunted Internet addicts for over a decade now: Who is @dril, the weirdest account active on Weird Twitter? After a brief period of reflection, Tibbetts quickly realized that the answer was right in front of him—and the rest of the Columbia student body.
This weekend, @dril, a pseudonymous Twitter account also known by the display name “wint,” turned ten years old. His first tweet, posted on September 15, 2008, contained only one word: “no.” Since that fateful day, @dril has slowly climbed the ranks and become king of “Weird Twitter,” one of the most surreal, absurd, and nonsensical corners of the Internet.
@dril is widely revered even by those who aren’t too familiar with the subculture and has been dissected by commentators, social scientists, and journalists ever since he first showed up on the scene. According to Clayton Purdom of The A.V. Club, @dril is “your uncle’s search history come to life and filtered through a scabrous comic sensibility, and … possibly the most popular, beloved man on the entire internet (after, maybe, The Rock).” Another writer referred to him as “grinning Jack Nicholson with severe persecution and self-esteem issues, poor physical health, and a bizarre love/hate relationship with cops.” He has been compared to Donald Trump, Ice-T, and the fictional character Ignatius J. Reilly. His posts range from inane (“user named ‘beavis_sinatra’ has been terrorizing me since 2004, by sending me pictures of cups that are too close to the edge of the table”) to insightful (“it is with a heavy heart that i must announce that the celebs are at it again”), from morbid (“so long suckers! i rev up my motorcylce and create a huge cloud of smoke. when the cloud dissipates im lying completely dead on the pavement”) to… uh… just plain strange (“another day volunteering at the betsy ross museum. everyone keeps asking me if they can f*ck the flag. buddy, they wont even let me f*ck it”). People seem to like what he has to say, though; at the time of publication, @dril has over 1.2 million followers on Twitter.
Little is known about @dril. He previously posted on Something Awful, a comedy website, under the name “gigantic drill.” Jacob Bakkila, one of the people behind the now-defunct @Horse_ebooks Twitter account, told Buzzfeed that @dril is a man who lives somewhere in the New York metropolitan tri-state area. Other than that, though, few details about @dril have been shared publicly. In short, no one knows how to answer one of the most pressing questions that we, as Extremely Online™ people, face today: Who, or what, is @dril, exactly?
The answer to this question is staring us in the face. @dril is no one other than Lee Carroll Bollinger, the famed legal scholar who currently serves as the president of Columbia University in the City of New York.
Remember when @dril said “ah, So u persecute Jared Fogle just because he has different beliefs? Do Tell. (girls get mad at me) Sorry. Im sorry. Im trying to remove it”? In this tweet, Bollinger, a free speech absolutist, was attempting to defend someone who has done something terrible by invoking that person’s First Amendment rights, no matter how irrelevant they are to the case. Pretty typical, right?
And when @dril tweeted “Food $200, Data $150, Rent $800, Candles $3,600, Utility $150. someone who is good at the economy please help me budget this. my family is dying”? Well, it shouldn’t be shocking that this was posted by someone who has no problem spending vast sums of money on new athletic amenities but can’t seem to find the funds needed to put a 24/7 on-campus health care system into place.
But what about when @dril told the Internet that “the wise man bowed his head solemnly and spoke: ‘theres actually zero difference between good & bad things. you imbecile. you f*cking moron’”? Here, Bollinger, ever the proponent of horseshoe theory, was proudly proclaiming to the world that he occupies the center of the center of the political spectrum and reminding us that he views far-right agitators and the far-left organizers who protest them in the same light.
And was Bollinger really the man behind the tweet that reads “‘im not owned! im not owned!!’, i continue to insist as i slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob”? How could he not be? I mean, did you see how he (and his underlings) responded to the graduate workers’ strike last semester?
Bollinger may feel embarrassed that his secret identity is now not-so-secret, but he shouldn’t be too worried: This should, if anything, only improve his standing among the mostly young, fairly hip student body that he oversees. Yeah, it’s cool that our president has been a named defendant in two notable Supreme Court cases, but do you know what’s even cooler? The fact that he spends his spare time serving as the internet’s id.
Thanks for a wonderful ten years of uninhibited, robust, and wide-open tweets, @dril-linger!
Bollinger close-up via Daniella Zalcman. @dril-linger mash-up via Jake Tibbetts.