Stop being a twit on twitter!

communication tools, grab bag, technology, tips

Don’t get the wrong idea.  Despite having a cold and ironically being hot in an apartment with no airconditioning, I’m not unhappy with my life.  True, I’m a bit cranky again, but I’m not deeply bummed.  Just ornery and snotty.

Today, it was just a little thing that triggered my annoyance:  For perhaps one of the last times, I read yet another asinine tweet on Twitter.  In an effort to not call out a specific (normally nice and sensible) fellow, I’ll slightly obscure it thusly: “Going to the bathroom.”

Going to the bathroom.  We all do it.  We all know we do it.  It’s not particularly exciting—at least typically—and it’s hardly the thing a normal person would announce unless there’s some particular need-to-know (roomies in a one bedroom apartment, little kids asking to be excused from a class, etc.).  But make it Web 2.0 and, wheee, suddenly people believe that they need to share such crap with others… or that others have even a faint interest in reading such banal nonsense.

So, Adam, I imagine you retorting, chill out and just unsubscribe from those people that tweet lamely.  I would, except every once in a while, these same folks refreshingly tweet something interesting or useful… or even a note or question directed specifically @me.

It’s like how your Aunt Frida (hopefully no longer) sends you teeth-gnashingly stupid forwards.  Bill Gates is gonna give you a million bucks.  P&G supports satan worship.

Frida is a good person, a well-meaning lady, but sometimes she just doesn’t THINK before she hits “send.”  And, clearly, you don’t want to filter her notes into your junk mail because at least one out of every ten notes she sends is something you really *do* want to read… a happy-birthday wish, a sad revelation about her health, or even just a simple cute “I’m thinking about you :-D.”

Thankfully, nearly all of my friends and relatives have gotten smarter about e-mail etiquette.  When are (normally quite intelligent and thoughtful) people gonna wise up about Twitter?

At risk of being told, “Dude, who the bleep do you think you are to tell us what to do?” I’m going to, well, suggest what I think is optimal Twitter usage.  You sure as heck don’t have to conform to my personal views on Good Twittering, but I’m more likely to read / less likely to unsubscribe from your tweets if you do :-D.

I believe that the following things make sense to post on Twitter:

  • MOOD:  How you’re feeling (“Kind of sick; apologies if I take longer than usual to reply to e-mails.”)
  • QUEST:  What you’re looking for or struggling with (“Dang, no matter how hard I try, I can’t find Hanuta in Bay Area stores.  If you don’t know the joys of Hanuta… Google it! :D”)
  • ACTION:  What you’re doing (“Struggling with a blog post.  Hate sounding so holier-than-thou, but sometimes a good rant is needed, you know?”)
  • ANTICIPATION:  What you’re looking forward to (“Planning a trip to Seattle, Montreal and Toronto… can’t wait!  Anyone got tips?  E-mail me!”)
  • FILTERING:  What you find interesting (“Fascinating article on…”)

The following ought to result in you getting slapped with a wet e-noodle and subjected to watching hours of old Jerry Springer videos with the sound real loud:

  • CHEESE SANDWICH:  What you’re doing that is totally boring / regular / etc. (“Having lunch” or “Reading my e-mail”…)
  • BORINGLY PERSONAL:  What you’re writing is positively of interest to only one person (“Hey Fred… please don’t forget to return that book!” or “@Mary, thanks!”)  Try e-mail.  Or IM.  Or (gasp) the phone!
  • BLOGVERTISING:  What you’re blogging.  Each and every time.  For the love of RSS, if I wanted to be notified of your *every* post, I’d subscribe to your feed. 

*  *  *

Look, I haven’t said anything sooner ‘cause I worred about offending people… folks that I like and respect.  And there’s been plenty of Twitter-hate already.  But I don’t hate Twitter… I am just deeply frustrated by what I perceive as the wasting of its potential.  It’d be so neat to have a quick window into friends’ and colleagues life.  I care when my friends are tired.  I’m curious to know when my colleagues are traveling to a conference.  Even something as seemingly boring as “Filling up junky ‘92 Sentra en route to Chicago.  Why didn’t I fly?!” tells me what kind of car you have, that you’re on a trip, that you’re frustrated, and you’re going to Chicago.  Contrast that with the absolutely useless waste of space: “At the gas station.”  Blegh!

So I implore you, before I feel compelled to uninstall Twitteroo and delete my account—think just a brief moment before you tweet.  Ask yourself:

  • Will more than one or two people in the world care about this?
  • Can I add even a smidgen more detail to make this informative or entertaining?

Please… and thank you!

11 comments… add one
  • David Dalka May 6, 2007

    Hey check out my latest post on boring cheese sandwiches!

    P&G supports Google?  😉 Who knew…

  • Adam May 6, 2007

    Sorry, David, no can do.  I’m busy taking photos of my cat eating a cheese sandwich 😛

    (Actually, that might even be kind of funny.  I wonder if normal people would get the geek humor in that situation?)

  • Monty Loree May 6, 2007

    Hey Adam,

    So, you’re complaining of BLOGVERTISING: and you posted this post on twitter.com.  You must be pretty annoyed with that!

    At first I thought that twitter was a big freekin’ waste of time.  Listening to people saying “time for lunch” etc. 

    Then I realized, sometimes it’s the small things that people tell us about their live that are the most enjoyable.

    I think you need to reevaluate your twitter expectations.

    Best

  • Adam May 6, 2007

    Monty, I’ve twittered I think two of my last fifteen posts.  Doesn’t quite qualify as *every*.  Not to mention it was *about* Twitter 😀

    But you and JoeDuck raise good points otherwise.  Looking at the larger picture, maybe my efforts’d be more efficiently spent finding a tool that fits me better rather than trying to reshape the way others currently use Twitter.

    Then again, what if milions, not just a few thousand geeks, would use Twitter if it were more like I envision it?  That’s admittedly presumptuous of me to even fathom, but it’s also not wholly improbable 😛

    When it comes down to it, though, my beef is probably more rightly focused on *either* the way Twitter is structured (or unstructured) OR the follies of my attempt to impose my own communications ideologies and expectations on a tool that’s doing just fine without me.

    I think much of my frustration has stemmed from how I was hoping Twitter would be the best of RSS, e-mail, and Facebook Status.  It’s really like none of that, and so it goes.

  • Elizabeth May 7, 2007

    I’m still undecided about Twitter. I’d much rather chat back and forth with people than just read singular statements that don’t invite further discussion, you know? So I am guilty of doing that “@Sally-Really? that’s interesting…” thing.

  • Monty Loree May 7, 2007

    Adam,
    I get a sense that many people who spend countless hours isolated behind a keyword, need an out let to say things like “I ate a cheese burger” etc.

    In this super busy age, it’s really hard to find the energy to communicate these small little ditties.  I think it’s important to a person’s psyche that people say these mundane things.  Whether twitter is that place is still for debate.

    Having said that, I’ve learned a huge amount by the other more intelligent posts on twitter.

    Best.

  • Harith May 7, 2007

    Adam

    So you are deindexing your self from twitter.

    I will blame it mostly on; “a cold and ironically being hot in an apartment with no airconditioning”. Most important is that you are still happy with your life 🙂

    Honestly, Adam. twitter is a new media and maybe a new way of online communication in addition to forums, chat, messenger etc. Too early to issue a final judgement.

    Think about twitter as the rel=nofollow, the use of which is under continuous development 😉

    Wish you consider filling a reinclusion request to twitter soon 🙂

  • Rakesh Agrawal May 7, 2007

    Adam,

    Make sure that the cheese sandwich your cat is eating has the virgin mary on it. It could be worth 30k to you.

    What do you think of GPS twittering? Almost all my twittering is where I’m at.

  • Christine May 8, 2007

    I specifically have avoided joining Twitter because of the meaningless crap people write on it. Bravo to your post!

  • Adam May 8, 2007

    Rocky, thanks for forgoing the bathroom-location tweets.  As for GPS twittering… I don’t really see how Twitter is uniquely valuable here, either.

    1) I already get that on Facebook, and in the context of much more relevant and useful info.

    2) I generally don’t need for my friends to know where I am and they don’t usually need to know where I am.  Usually I’m busy.  When I have free time and I want to do something with friends, I either plan ahead or I call / e-mail / IM them. 

    And thanks, Christine, Harith, Monty, John, and JoeDuck and Aaron for the comments.  I don’t hold the Universal Truth re: twitter, and it’s neat to get different perspectives (or, in the case of Christine, blissful affirmation that I’m absolutely right :-P)

  • James Mar 23, 2008

    Hey, does is universal truth afters the twitters that they are scrappers?

What do you think?