A lack of Twitiquette

Bailey White – The Aquinian

A certain degree of civility is expected with social networking. There are real people, people you know, monitoring your network activity, and a lack of etiquette online can lead to a real-life awkward situation.

Facebook has mastered the art of passive-aggressive social skills. Users can discretely choose to reject friend requests, show only limited profiles, or remove another user from their news feed.

If you’re tired of reading how much someone misses their significant other or you just don’t want your boss to the photos of you playing strip-Twister, you can restrict these things. No hurt feelings.

Twitter, on the other hand, is not so passive-aggressive.

I like my tweets with substance. That’s not particularly easy given the 140-character limit, but that’s the challenge.

(It’s particularly challenging to construe a point without relying on any awful Internet abbreviations, if you can do that, I’ll really admire your tweets.)

But too many Twitterers treat their tweets like Facebook status updates.

I don’t care if you’re playing with your kids.

I don’t care if you’re going to bed. Give me some wit, some insight, or an interesting link.

Tweet if you’re doing something genuinely interesting.

Tweet while you’re getting a tattoo, or fixing up an old computer, or building a space ship.

But don’t tweet to tell me you’ve got a load of laundry in and now you’re watching CSI: Miami.

The trouble with lame tweets is there is no way to pussyfoot around them. Either you follow a Twitterer, or you don’t.

There is no filter, and if you unfollow, the unfollowed will find out.

I met an author earlier this year, a very funny man with whom I had a few short chats. A month or so later, I came across his Twitter page and clicked “follow”. He followed back. This author, this important guy who’s so clever and so good with words was following me. He remembered me. Suffice it to say I was flattered.

But I have few delusions about my Twitter-finesse. My tweets aren’t the most interesting, or the most frequent. I tweet things that seem funny to me, but I think a lot of the times what I find funny isn’t funny to most, and even if it is, it doesn’t translate well into tweetinese.

Nevertheless I was shocked – hurt, even, to see the author had unfollowed me a short while later.

There is no polite way to unfollow. As such, I find myself following, out of sheer politeness, a handful of Twitterers I have utterly no interest in.

But these are people I know in real life. Outside the Internet. If I unfollowed them, I’d never be able to look them in the eye again.

What if the two of us, myself and my unfollowed, wound up in a social situation at which Twitter was the topic of conversation? The awkward tension would be unbearable.

That’s the problem with hyper-connectivity.

In real life, you might be able to manipulate the way others perceive you, just like you can on Facebook.

But as with Twitter, it’s just plain rude to tell a person, “I’m no longer interested in your thoughts, feelings or actions, and I don’t want to hear about them any longer.”

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