Sometimes I forget that not everybody in the world spends their days online, and that some of you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about when I say that I tweeted something or why I sometimes put an @ in front of somebody’s name. So before I move on to the subject at hand – how to get thrown off of my twitter list – here’s a brief explanation of twitter.
Twitter, briefly (natch)
Sending a tweet is kind of like sending a text, but anybody can see it, and probably will see it if they’re one of your “followers”. Sound cult-like? It is. It’s a time-sucking cult, but it can be a lot of fun and it’s the best way to find links to interesting stuff online, and keep up with your friends, whether real or online. It’s also fun to watch people try to say something poetic, profound, or detailed in under 140 characters.
You go to Twitter.com and get your own Twitter name. Then you start following people. You can start with me! I’m SelfishMom. Once you’re following me, you can look at the people I’m following and follow some of them. And then all of the people you follow will start showing up in your Twitter home page, with their 140-character-and-under tweets.
Sounds simple, yes? It is. And highly addictive. But I’ll let you discover that for yourself. Some tips: putting @ directly in front of someone’s Twitter name will pretty much ensure that they see it (it goes to a special page or column), but everyone else will also. Putting a D then a space then their Twitter name means that they will be the only one to see it (unless they decide to share it, that is, so be careful).
Once you become addicted and follow so many people that it becomes overwhelming, you can sort things out using an application like TweetDeck.
Pissing me off on Twitter
I follow almost 2000 people. I don’t actually follow everything they all say. To do that I would have to give up sleeping, bathing, eating, working, blogging, and spending time with my family. And there are at least two things in that list that I don’t want to give up. No, I regularly follow about 50 real people, plus a bunch of celebrities who entertain me when I’m bored and never answer my tweets, even though I just know we could be best friends if only you would give me a chance, Paris. So why am I following almost 2000 people? Because I follow back anybody who follows me, unless their Twitter picture has a penis or vagina in it (yes, seriously). And I will check on you now and then to see if you’re tweeting anything interesting, and if you say enough interesting things you will gradually become one of the small number that I follow regularly. [UPDATE from 3/17/10: Someone just called me out (nicely) for not following them, even though they follow me. I have twice and many followers now as when I wrote this and following everyone just doesn’t seem to make sense any more. I do try to periodically go through my conversations and follow anyone I actually talk to, though. If you’re following me and I’m not following you – and you care – just shoot me a tweet and I’ll fix that!]
But doing any of the following will get you unfollowed immediately:
- Participate in Twitter quizzes all day, where your entire Twitter stream consists of tweets like:
space shuttle columbia #dumbquiz
- Sp@m me. This is when you write to @SelfishMom trying to sell me something or trying to get me to go to your site when it has nothing to do with my interests. When you @ me it goes to a special column that I pay special attention to. When it’s spam I unfollow you immediately. If it’s especially inappropriate, like the UK Pharmacy that wanted me to check out a weight loss drug that might make me shit my pants, I share it with everybody and embarrass you. I don’t mind you trying to sell your stuff or get traffic to your site with normal tweets, everybody does that. But don’t send your crap directly to me.
- Direct Message me if I don’t know you and your message doesn’t need to be private. A lot of people probably wouldn’t agree with me on this one, but I don’t give a shit. When I’m going to be away from my computer for a while I sometimes have my Direct Messages texted to me. If you’re bothering me with stupid stuff that could wait, I’m going to unfollow you.
- Tweet inspirational quotes all day. If that’s your thing, if that’s what you do, great. Have fun. But there seem to be a lot of you, and I don’t want to hear it.
- Refer to your religion in just about every tweet. If I started every tweet with “Since I’m an atheist I…” or “Being an atheist is great because…” or “As an atheist this really inspired me:” then I would expect people to unfollow me too. Some tweets about religion are to be expected, but if it consumes all of your tweets, you’re just not interesting enough to follow.
- Tweet about conservative politics all day. Not interested. I read the NYPost to keep abreast of what the nutty section of the right is doing. Just like religion above, some tweets are to be expected. But if you’ve decided that you’re Rush’s personal mouthpiece on Twitter, sayonara.
Twitter’s like any other community: full of nutjobs, blowhards, popular kids, nerds, bullies, wannabes, and then a whole big bunch of (relatively) normal people. I don’t want to know which one you think I am, but I do want you to follow me, and I’ll try not to do any of the above.