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!