Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Twitter Rules

For some reason, I'm really itching to write a post tonight. But the post I had queued up to write next is beyond my mental capabilities tonight. After several weeks of waiting for things I'd set in motion to come to fruition... everything hit at once! Also, my main client has some extra work for me right now, and I'm a fan of money so I've been working slightly longer hours for them. Put this all together, and I've been very busy and I'm feeling a bit drained.

So, instead let's talk about Twitter! Specifically, let's talk about how to keep Twitter fun. I've evolved the following set of rules, some of which I follow better than others.

This list is written in the second person, but should be read as me talking to myself- because these are my rules for me. I'm sure the balance between engagement and happiness is different for other people.

1. Only follow people whose tweets add something to your life.

Since one of the things I use Twitter for is to diversify the opinions I find, not all of the people I follow have tweets that make me happy- but they all add something I value.

2. If you're following someone and they start to annoy you more than the value they bring... unfollow. (Silently, of course.)

I used to worry about offending someone by unfollowing, but... people who get in a snit about people unfollowing them on Twitter aren't the type of people you want to know, anyway.

Seriously, different people use social media in different ways. Some people use it almost exclusively to vent, which is FINE and sometimes really amusing. But if their venting starts to annoy me, I just unfollow. It is their Twitter stream, they can say whatever they want. And it is my Twitter timeline, I can listen to whatever I want.

Some people tweet really interesting things, but at a volume that overwhelms me. So I unfollow and (maybe) add them to a list to check in on from time to time, instead.

I will never, ever tweet at someone and tell them why I'm unfollowing me, because seriously, why would they care?

The corollary of this is that I pay zero attention to who unfollows me.

3. It is cool to follow famous people, but don't talk to them too much.

It almost never makes me happy to tweet at a famous person. I'm just not that secure in my own cleverness. Sometimes, I can't help myself and I do it anyway. I'd be happier overall if I wouldn't.

4. Don't try to ask that super smart person with a lot of followers a specific question about the controversial topic of the day.

This one took me awhile to work out, because I only ever asked genuine questions but it rarely left me feeling good. Eventually I realized that the person with a gazillion followers gets a bunch of "questions" about the hot topic, only a small number of which are actually questions... and of course they can't tell that I'm being curious and trying to learn and not being an asshole.

Also, even if they can tell I'm being curious and trying to learn... damn, they get a lot of questions. They don't have time to answer everyone.

Yeah, this is sort of obvious in retrospect. I am not always brilliant.

Anyway, now I listen when the Twitter famous smart people tweet, because they will say smart things. But I accept that I just have to listen to the statements that they choose to make, and if a statement sparks a question I can use it as a prompt to do some independent study if I want, but I should resist the urge to tweet back a question.

(This, incidentally, does not apply to me, because I am not Twitter famous and have a small number of followers. You can tweet questions at me anytime!)

5. Avoid drama

I tend to not get into protracted Twitter fights. The few times one has started to develop, I've just said we'll agree to disagree and then unfollowed. I haven't had to then go on to block or mute, but I would if needed. I don't like drama, and drama with strangers on the internet seems particularly pointless to me. I will discuss things, even for a long time. But if the discussion starts to evolve into a fight... I'm out. I use Twitter for fun and to learn. Fights are no fun, and not very conducive to the sort of dialogue that helps me learn.

6. Don't worry if you miss something.

I used to follow a small number of people and I could read basically every tweet. I decided I wanted to follow more people, so I had to let that go. Adding lists helped with this.

Those are the rules I try to follow on Twitter. Do you have any rules you follow? Share in the comments!

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