My Twitter Philosophy
Years ago when I was active on twitter, I made a few passing observations about this strange place called Twitter:
- “A lot of people follow me for a few days then unfollow me if I don’t follow them back”
There are so many things wrong with this. Following someone just so they’ll follow you back is selfish. It’s pretty obvious these folks are just using others to increase their follower count. They follow 5,000 people and have 4,999 people following them. Yeah, not impressed. Seeing this doesn’t make me think that person is influential. It makes me think they’re obsessive.
Which naturally leads into the next observation…
- “If everyone follows everyone else then what’s the point of following?”
There is no way anyone who follows 5,000 people is keeping up with their timeline. And there’s also no way that many people are simultaneously tweeting things that are that interesting. It’s like having 5,000 radios all tuned to different stations, and constantly jumping around to each one to hear what is being said at that moment. Nobody does that. Well, maybe someone does. But I don’t want them following me.
- “Why is he/she/it following me?”
Sometimes I get followed by strange accounts with interests nowhere in the same universe as what I tweet about. Most of them seem to be based on keywords or favorites, and it’s obvious the majority of these are automated. Of course, if I don’t follow them back, they go away on their own, thankfully. These accounts can range from the innocuous joke account to things I won’t even mention.
- “People spend a ridiculous amount of time on here”
Sometimes I will go back and try to find a particular tweet from someone. I usually give up after I have to scroll through 50 pages of that person’s tweets just from the last 4 hours. I envision such people with their neck cricked downward, tweeting on their phones every 5 minutes. I understand the whole “staying top of mind” thing if you’re marketing, but I doubt you’re going to miss out on anything if you take your tweeting frequency down a notch.
- “People are really rude/inappropriate/mean”
I don’t care much for Twitter ads (aka “sponsored tweets”) that have no relevance to my interests. I usually ignore them, but I’ve seen people reply to them with the filthiest, vilest language you can imagine. I can only imagine the verbal abuse taken by their TV and radio.
- “Twitter is uncensored and unpatrolled”
There’s a way to report content that violates Twitter’s terms. The caveat, however, is that all it does is make you feel like you did something. It’s sort of like spraying perfume on a dead cat. The perfume might smell alright, but the cat’s still dead, and it’s not going anywhere. Twitter rarely seems to take action on tweets unless it’s about something blatantly illegal. In other words, Twitter isn’t the place to visit when children are near by, and probably never will be.
- “Twitter suffers from ‘LinkedIn Profile Fail Syndrome'”
A while back I noticed that LinkedIn will show you people’s full names if you’re not logged in, but once you log in, it will hide them if you’re not “connected.” I dubbed this the LinkedIn Profile Fail Syndrome or LPFS, and Twitter suffers a similar ailment. You can block a user on Twitter, which prevents them from seeing your tweets and also stops anything from them showing up in your timeline. If the blocked person, however, logs out, they can see everything of yours, as long as it’s public. Yeah, that makes sense.
My Twitter Manifesto
I no longer use twitter because it's a garbage dump. But when I was using it, to combat the above deficiencies, I came up with a set of rules that applies not just to Twitter, but all social media in general.
1. I only follow people who post things I find interesting.
In other words, whether I follow you or not has nothing to do with you personally. There are people I know and love personally that I do not follow. It’s not personal. I only want to see certain things in my timeline, so I only follow a very small number of people.
2. I don’t live on twitter.
I have an offline life. I work, do courses for Pluralsight, and study my craft. Twitter is recreational. I might find your tweets eminently interesting and profound, but I might not read them until weeks after they’ve floated down the twitter stream.
3. I don’t get into lengthy discussions or debates on twitter.
The only exception is if I think a public discourse will be helpful to others. This implies it has to be coherent and easy to follow, which is pretty rare.
4. I don’t post detailed personal information.
Ever. Anywhere. This includes where I work, where I shop, where I eat, who I’m with, etc. There are far too many criminals, fraudsters, and just plain weirdos who have nothing better to do than grab onto some low hanging social media fruit and indulge their sociopathic tendencies. No thank you.
5. The Internet is forever.
Not really. Nothing material lasts forever. But, like a diamond, the Internet is pretty close. I don’t post anything online that I don’t want everyone to see.