Asking your followers to recommend restaurants/bars/tourist hot spots to you is the new Google, by which I mean: Why don’t you just use Google? Twitter-sourcing is the laziest form of research. It’s like going to the library, lying down on the floor, and asking relevant books to jump off the shelves onto your face. I don’t know. It’s fine. Just keep it to a minimum – like once a year, maybe. For example, I just asked MY followers what Twitter behavior they found annoying. If, in the next twelve months, I find myself wondering where the best Sasquatch hotspots in the Midwest are located, tough luck. I will be doing that woods-wandering unadvised.
2. Ignore your followers/fans.
I understand that at a certain point, a person can attract so many Twitter followers and @-replies that it becomes physically (and mentally) impossible to respond to all of them. Those people get a pass. But for the vast majority of us with fewer than 10,000 Twitter followers, ignoring the people who like you enough to read your stupid jokes and bizarre epiphanies on a daily basis is just rude. Not everything deserves a reply, of course — insults and weird come-ons are better left to rot unanswered on your interactions page, probably — but when someone tweets to tell you that they like you? Respond! Do you remember what it was like when NOBODY ever talked to you on Twitter? I do. It was less than a year ago. Those were the darkest days of my life.
Nobody has ever cared or will ever care about what you’re eating for lunch. I have literally never wanted to know anything less. An exception is granted if you are a food blogger or a chef. Presumably, the people who are twisted enough to follow you won’t mind if you tweet about your butter-braised quinoa or whatever. If you are JWOWW, or anyone else, just put food in your mouth about three times a day, chew it quietly, and swallow. There are no other necessary actions.
I don’t have the patience required to explain to you why Kelly Bensimon counts as a famous person. (Fine. “Why do we have to be all flowers and lollipops. Why can’t it be like fighting but we are actually learning? That’s called back-door education.” – Kelly Bensimon.) It’s already kind of embarrassing when celebrities use Twitter to let people know that they are legitimate friends with other celebrities. WE GET IT, you’re all crazy-popular and you’re all definitely going to be elected Homecoming King & Queen. What’s even more embarrassing is a celebrity using Twitter to try to BECOME friends with another celebrity. If you are a celebrity who wants another celebrity to be your friend, you have to do what the rest of us do: follow him or her around. Build a human nest in a tree that overhangs his or her house. Get plastic surgery to become his or her twin. Etc. All of these are less awkward than what you’re currently doing.
In #2 we talked about replying to the followers who praise your work. This is not the way you should do that! Manually RT-ing praise to “reply” to a follower/fan is the single most masturbatory way to receive a compliment. You think it makes you look receptive, modest, and kind, but it actually makes you look like a self-obsessed lunatic. It is the sort of thing Genghis Khan would have done, if he had survived into the Twitter ages.
Unless you find yourself on the receiving end of a particularly clever and entertaining barb, insults are best left unengaged. The RT-ing critiques with a snappy retort is a little rubber and glue-y. When big-time celebrities do it, it also seems to invoke that person’s dimmest followers to pile on the offending tweeter. This seems like a needless and petty display of power. Twitter: because sometimes having millions and millions of dollars AND followers just isn’t enough!
I can only assume that when you tweet a link without telling me what it’s about or where it came from, clicking on it will either sign me up for the top-secret draft for our nation’s forthcoming territory war with Venus, or that I’m about to see some body parts I don’t want to see, or that I’m about to win a free iPad. Wait. It’s the last one, isn’t it??
Let me introduce you to this thing called “a blog.”
I bet you that Paris Hilton is going to take a good, hard look in the mirror now that someone has FINALLY alerted her to the rather humorous fact that she starred in a sex tape, in 2004. God, I can’t even imagine how bad she’s going to feel about herself. Admittedly, tweets like these almost always lead celebrities to vanish from the public eye forever, which is why nobody’s heard a peep out of Kim Kardashian in the last two years.
*Exception granted for Chris Brown.
Hashtags, when used appropriately and conservatively, can bring disparate groups of people together to comment or read up on a public event, like the presidential debates. Hashtags, when used needlessly and liberally, can make everyone around you (your followers) feel like tying a few planks together into a makeshift raft, pushing off from the Florida coast, and hoping to be sucked into the Bermuda Triangle forever. Reportedly, none of the ghost-merpeople living in the whirlpools there have even HEARD of hashtags, and they’re all the better for it.
Since most of us still get emails when someone follows us - because that sort of thing still provides a thrill when you’re under that 10,000-20,000 mark - we are going to notice when someone follows us several times, and we’re going to know that that means we were apparently unfollowed a few times in the middle. The only possible reasons to do this is because you want to harass someone into following you back. The weird thing about harassment is that it doesn’t (usually!) make someone want to follow you more. I mean, personally, I’ve never been like, “Hey, this person seems irritating. Let’s check out what s/he has to say on an hourly basis!” The other option is that you’re doing this because your opinion of me is constantly fluctuating between adoration and hatred. Which, I mean…ugh. I knew you didn’t really like me! I’ll just be over here, scrolling through my timeline and whispering insults to myself. (“Why would I tweet about car commercials making me cry? Ugh, STUPID!”)
Katie Heaney is a writer and volunteer text message analyst living in Minneapolis. She thinks you should have good manners, even on the internet.
Illustrations by Chris Ritter