"Dennis the Cynic" isn't afraid to bite.
Whether it's Donald Trump, Sheila Dixon or Jared Fogle, no one is safe from the prolific tweeter's virtual eye-roll. From his Twitter handle, @dennisthecynic, he has sent more than 45,000 140-character observations and critiques, often taking aim at Baltimore's government, institutions and politicians.
"Mayor Nick Mosby ... now I'm depressed," one tweet reads.
Another, in response to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: "Maybe get to work on Baltimore first? *shrug*".
Dennis McIver has always had strong opinions about Baltimore. It wasn't until New Year's Day 2011, however, that he condensed those viewpoints into his first tweet.
"I just felt like for the longest time I had thoughts but I didn't really have any real outlet for it," he said. "Twitter was as good a place as any to get my voice out there."
McIver boasts nearly 3,000 followers on the social networking platform -- not an unheard-of number, but substantial for an otherwise anonymous person in the city. In his more than four years on the site, McIver has emerged as one of Baltimore's preeminent malcontents, airing his views on local politics, food, sports and other happenings.
Becoming a local Twitter personality was never a goal of McIver's -- rather, the more opinions he shared, the more people followed. Facebook used to be his primary means of airing grievances, but it was in the local "Twitter scene" that McIver found a vital community of like- and not-so-like-minded individuals.
"I describe it as a digitized Baltimore," he said. "On Twitter there always seems to be one or two degrees of separation, whether it's politics or sports or neighborhoods. Eventually, you'll find people that agree or disagree with you."
McIver credits that community with highlighting viewpoints he wouldn't have otherwise necessarily sought out or come across -- and he welcomes the engagement.
"Unfortunately, when it comes to public discourse, you run the risk of being in an echo chamber," he said. "When it comes to my overarching political ideology it is very much the same [as when I joined Twitter], but over time I've learned to at least hear out the other side on issues, even if I don't necessarily agree."
The 33-year-old owes his passion for Baltimore's well-being to his upbringing in Northeast Baltimore and early interest in politics (he and his wife now live in the Hamilton neighborhood). McIver's mother worked for former Mayor Kurt Schmoke -- and though Schmoke's politics don't align with McIver's, through his mother's work McIver learned about the inner workings of the city.
"I have a degree of emotional investment in Baltimore, and this is one of the ways I try to reflect that," he said. "I have a vested interest in seeing it become as good as possible."
For McIver, a registered Republican and political Libertarian, "as good as possible" most often translates to improving tax rates, eliminating crony capitalism and making city government more friendly and efficient. He faults many city leaders with focusing on one big idea after another, in the hopes of creating "something so wonderful and so appealing that citizens would just have to flock here," rather than supporting existing communities.
"They're missing the big picture, which is that if you make Baltimore City a place where people want to live and orient resources toward building neighborhoods, the other things will work themselves out," he said.
Though he may be a cynic, McIver fosters optimism for the city's communities. He sees no limitations on what kinds of interests and cultures can thrive in Baltimore, and it's the people that can "make Baltimore a vibrant, world-class city that we all know it can be." Until then, however, McIver will continue his quest to inform, engage and snark.
"I just want to work to make things better so the day comes where someone like me doesn't have to say these things," he said.
"The 410 in 140" puts the spotlight on prominent Baltimore Twitter personalities. If you have a suggestion of someone to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org.