I’ve only been on Twitter a few months, but lately it feels like the honeymoon is over. At first it was glorious and wildly fun, but lately I’ve seen some bad behavior on there, tweets and tendencies that give me pause. Which I hate, because social media should be enjoyable and helpful–not like swimming in a pool people have been pissing in.
Of course, I don’t want to be one of those glass house-dwellers throwing stones and all, so I have to admit I’ve probably committed some social media sins–or have been sorely tempted to.
But we can all do better. Though it may seem old-fashioned, I prefer to think of Twitter as the online equivalent of a giant cocktail party, and act accordingly (by which I mean practicing kindness and maybe also drinking things with umbrellas).
So here’s a list of ten things we all should keep in mind when using Twitter. Let’s call it an aspirational list.
Top Ten Ways to Use Twitter Without Losing Your Soul
1.) Assume that any negative tweets about people, whether named or not, will be read by those people.
2.) Attempt to not tweet more than three pictures of cats in one day.
3.) Try not to retweet more than twenty times a day (a.k.a. be the town crier).
4.) Strive to participate at least monthly in the reading and/or writing of tweets with ridiculous hashtags, such as #ruinsachildrensbook or #thingsineversay.
5.) Do not use so many hashtags so often that tweets only barely resemble the English language and reading said tweets feels like deciphering a strange code.
6.) Observe the Golden Rule. If you can’t remember it, try this instead: assume that whenever you’re making a negative comment about someone, whether named or not, that tweet is something you’d say to that person’s face at a cocktail party. With their mom standing next to them. And that person has just learned that their car needs a major repair and/or the grocery store has discontinued their favorite snack food.
7.) When you’re tempted to write something negative, ask yourself: what am I trying to do here? If the answer is simply “vent”: consider stopping, dropping, and rolling away from your phone.
8.) Try to converse with new people who tweet you directly whenever possible, even if it’s just “thank you,” versus just ignoring or favoriting, which can feel like the cocktail party equivalent of someone smiling and walking away. (Of course, people with a gazillion followers may find this difficult, but, whenever possible, try to remember the little people.)
9.) View Twitter as a way to make new friends, not just followers, through kindness and finding common ground and sharing mojito recipes.
10.) Be silly on Twitter at least once daily, and twice on Sundays. Because if there’s one thing we could all use, it’s not snark–it’s silliness.