The Secret World of Twittiquette

Cards on the table:  I fell into the Twitter craze completely by accident.  I don’t even remember signing up; I don’t know why I did it, and I don’t think I even knew what Twitter was at the time (this was way back before Twitter had catapulted into popularity).  I forgot about the account soon after I had created it.  Eight months later, someone followed me on Twitter, and I got an e-mail.  I went, “Er…what’s Twitter?”  I tried signing in with a password I thought I might have used, and it worked.  This weirded me out a lot.

I’ve used Twitter sporadically ever since.  Lately, I’ve been using it more often.  By “using it,” I don’t really mean “posting.”  I post every once in a while, generally in reply to the posts of people I know personally.  Mostly, though, I just read.  I find Twitter a useful source for links to information that interests me (often about genre fiction).  Occasionally, a webtoonist or blogger I follow will post whenever he or she updates; these links are useful too.  (I don’t do this with my own comic or blog because I am terribly, terribly lazy.)  I suppose I am failing to optimise my Twitter experience, but I don’t want to optimise my Twitter experience; I just like the way it enables procrastination.

However, I’ve got to say:  some people really don’t know how to use Twitter.  I mean, they really don’t know how to use it.  As far as I can tell, what they’re doing with their Twitter accounts is assuring that all sane people conceive violent dislikes for them.

I’m not going to use any names because I’m not the devil,* but I do want to describe two examples of How to Ensure That Everybody on Twitter Hates You.

1)  I suppose this first one isn’t really about “hatred”; it’s more about “mild annoyance.”  I follow two prominent fantasy authors, both of whom shall remain nameless.  One of them posts prolifically but relatively sanely; she mostly just links to things that interest her and alerts followers whenever her books go on sale.  The other posts every single tiny detail about his personal life.  He has a lot of followers, so people apparently enjoy this.  He does have some good tweets, so I continue to follow him, but I could do with fewer details about his relationship with his wife.  I get this with a less prominent author too; some of his tweets verge on uncomfortable, as he occasionally insults his wife and announces to the world whenever they’re having a fight.  He also hates everything everywhere, as far as I can tell.

2)  I follow some webtoonists as well.  Most are fine; they just post links.  One, however, has driven me to loathe him.  I like his comic, but I’m on the verge of unfollowing him because he cannot shut up about himself.  Every time he pencils, inks, or letters a new comic…every time he has a brilliant idea…every time he worries that he doesn’t have enough readers (this happens constantly)…every time he decides that he is a misunderstood genius…every time he has either more or fewer readers than usual exploring his site…every time he wants to explain how much he deserves success…every time someone follows him on Twitter…every time someone unfollows him on Twitter:  I must get hundreds of tweets per day from him.  I mostly just skip over them.  Dude, please just draw your damn comics and stop whining about how wonderful you are.  I understand that self-promotion is important in the webcomics community, but there’s a fine line between “self-promotion” and “overweening arrogance.”  The only reason I still follow him is that I do like reading his comic, but eventually, my irritation with his tweets will win out over my need to follow his work.

Long story short:  Twitter can be kind of neat, and some people really know how to use it.  If you are not one of these people (I know I’m not), consider backing off.  Do you really need to post seventeen tweets within ten minutes?  It may be cute if you do it once, but multiple times a day?  If you have that much to say, why not just start a blog?  Think of it as like being at a party.  If you sit in the corner and don’t say anything, you’re not going to make any friends, though it’s possible you may still learn something interesting.  If you politely take part in a few conversations, you may make some friends; you will certainly be able to exchange ideas and opinions with others.  If your ideas and opinions are particularly witty, you will make even more friends.  If, on the other hand, you shove your way into every conversation and never let anyone get a word in edgewise, you will drive everybody away, no matter how brilliant your thoughts are.

*Or so I claim.

One thought on “The Secret World of Twittiquette

  1. There are also some people /companies/groups who feel the need to be tweeting consistently 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

    There’s an entire range of services devoted to buffering your tweets – to be posted throughout the day… That idea just makes me feel weird, but I guess I could see how having your company name on your followers page all the time can sound appealing to the marketing folks. (Look up Timely or Bufferapp as examples)

    Personally, I seem to visit twitter about once a month or so. I can’t keep track of all the continuously flowing updates.

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