What not to do on Twitter
Ah, Twitter. A social networking site that boasts more the 500 million users, helped change the political and cultural landscape of the planet during the Arab Spring, and allows us the opportunity to peek inside the lives of celebrities without having to invest in watching an entire MTV reality series. Sometimes it can be really great and interesting and amusing and insightful. Other times it'll make you want to slam your head against a wall. During the bad times, I find myself wanting to scream at friends, strangers, and occasionally illiterate celebrities "STEP AWAY FROM THE KEYBOARD, YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!" but hurling abuse isn't exactly helping the problem, so in an attempt to try to make the situation better I thought I would write an informative guide on How To Behave On Twitter. Brace yourselves.
AVOID DRAMATIC HINTS
Occasionally there's something you're just DYING to say, but you're not sure Twitter is the right outlet. Maybe you feel taken for granted by a friend. Maybe there's a romantic situation that feels unclear and undefined. Your feelings are valid, but you will not find any peace by posting updates like "SIGH. Sometimes people can really let you down, you know?" or "Hate when certain people are suddenly too busy to call me back." or "Ugh, friends are the worst!" because strangers who follow you have no clue what you're banging on about, your actual friends and family will spend the rest of the day asking themselves what they could have possibly done to maybe upset you, and the person you are passive-aggressively writing about in the hope of prompting them into begging your forgiveness? I guarantee you, they'll somehow be the only person to not read your update. If you have something to say to someone, just say it - to them, directly. Preferably through a more personalised method of communication, if at all possible.
DON'T RETWEET EVERY COMPLIMENT YOU RECEIVE
It's highly likely your followers already think you are the bees knees - after all, that's why they're following you in the first place, right? You don't need to keep telling them how great other people think you are via incessant retweeting of every complimentary remark directed your way on Twitter. The exception to this rule is if the person who has said something nice about you is somehow superawesome and interesting. If you Tweet about how much you love the song 'Karma Chameleon' and Boy George magically replies and says he thinks you're an absolute dish for saying so, by all means let me know! I want gasp and look up from my iPhone excitedly and say to folk around me "Oh my god, this chap I follow on Twitter just got contacted by Boy George!". But if some chap Graeme from Katoomba gets in touch one day and says "I think your profile picture is hot!" then please, don't feel the need to forward that one on to me. I'm happy for you, but unless someone's replied to you in a particularly charming or funny or well-worded way, I don't need to be in on every single one of your online social interactions.
DON'T RETWEET INSULTS
This is less for my sake and more for yours. When you pay attention to a hater, you give them power. Some people think forwarding on hateful Tweets to their followers is showing humility, like it's an indication you don't take yourself too seriously or something. MISTAKE! Not only are you filling the feeds of folk who probably like you with unnecessary negativity, but you're giving the dude/dudette who sent you the nasty reply in the first place the satisfaction of knowing they got to you.
STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW BUSY YOU ARE AT WORK
If you make 20 updates in one day discussing how FLAT OUT you are being a successful, amazing, creative powerhouse, juggling deadlines and constantly being in demand, I don't think to myself "Oh, so-and-so is doing well for themselves, I wish they were my best friend so I could learn the secrets of their 24/7 awesomeness!", I think to myself "Wow, someone's trying a little too hard, and their incessant presence on Twitter indicates to me that they are probably NOT as busy as they're making themselves out to be." Kicking career goals? You go, gurl/man! I'm proud of you! I'm happy to hear about it! I just don't wanna hear about it for the whole goddamn day. Honestly, if one more person Tweets about how well this novel they're in the middle of writing is going, I will be forced to point out that novels are traditionally longer than 140 characters so if you are on Twitter you are NOT in fact currently writing a novel, you are procrastinating by pissing about on social networking sites.
DNT DO 2 MCH TXT SPK. SRSLY
I know the number of characters is limited but unless you are Prince Rogers Nelson, I don't want to see updates like "So fierce U look 2night! The brightest star pales 2 your sex. Before we do anything, let me just talk 2 U". If what you're trying to say doesn't fit into the space provided, don't turn into an excitable 14 year old girl with a fiendishly fast texting thumb - why not use it as a chance to flex the ol' writer muscles? Move words around. Trim the fat - which words are essential to the quip? Which of them can go? Honestly, I know a lot of writers who aren't on Twitter who say they think the site is a waste of time, but personally I've found it really helpful in training me to be slightly less self-indulgent with words and I'm much better at editing myself than I used to be. Give it a go sometime - if what you're trying to say doesn't come under the 140 characters limit, don't abandon all hope or turn to excessive abbreviation, have some fun with the English language!
BE EXCITED ABOUT THE THINGS THAT EXCITE YOU
If something glorious happens to you and you want to shout it from the rooftops, go for it! It's okay to be enthusiastic and excited about cool things in this life. God knows there's enough to be miserable about in the world, we all need some little victories. So if you bump into Ryan Gosling in the street and he says he likes your jacket, I will not judge you for rushing to Twitter and screaming "OH MY GOD RYAN GOSLING JUST BUMPED INTO ME AND HE LIKES MY JACKET AND I HOPE THAT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE ME PREGNANT WITH HIS CHILD COS I LOVE HIM!". I will, however, roll my eyes if you make an obscenely casual update like "Think I might've had a coffee stain on the jacket I was wearing when Ryan Gosling bumped into me just now. Ugh, embarrassing. So over today! #FML"
STOP CORRECTING PEOPLE
This piece of advice comes straight from the Daily Life's own Natalie Reilly, bless her: "Unless you’re part of the Egyptian uprising or news that’s so fresh it’s still a rumour, (like that guy in Pakistan who tweeted about overhearing ‘a window bang’ when it was actually SEAL Team Six shooting Bin Laden) please remember that Twitter is – and will remain - a popularity contest. Which means that when you Tweet a CORRECTION or a PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE remark to someone in caps you are doing it to elevate yourself and show off in front of your friends. You’re not doing this for the greater good. You’re not doing it because you want to make the world a better or more informed place - you are doing it for your ego. Know this, keep it in your frontal lobe and own it."
DON'T TELL PEOPLE WHAT TO DO
I realise this rule makes everything that came before it null and void (TWIST!) but it's true. If someone you follow writes a couple of updates about bananas and you're bored of it, don't reply "Can you please stop Tweeting about bananas?" because if you do that, you are essentially telling people "I would like everything you do to be personally relevant to my interests, and if it is not personally relevant to my interests I expect you to cease doing it immediately and instead do something I would heartily approve." Whoa there, sunshine! Have you contacted the science department yet to let 'em know that the world now revolves around you? Better get on that.
If you don't like something, don't engage in it. If someone is boring you, stop following them. The power is all yours! You can do it quietly and politely, and everybody will simply go on with their day. Oh, and there's no need to helpfully announce this by using the Twitter handle of the person you're unfollowing in a press release to all your followers. "I am unfollowing @thispersonontwitter because I just don't find them funny any more" doesn't result in @thispersonontwitter deciding to sign up to a comedy writing class in order to win back your affections, it makes you look rude.