Three simple rules that might make Twitter less of a pain in the ass for everyone
My wife has decided to take a break from Twitter. Spare time is a precious commodity these days, and Twitter doesn’t strike her as a very good use of it. She’s had enough of the bickering and negativity, and she’s decided not to spend her time “watching smart people have pointless fights with idiots.”
I think she’s making a really smart decision. Even though, to quote my disapproving but basically correct wife, I “do that too, you know.”
Sure, I’ve had my share of pointless Internet arguments, but I like to think I’m getting better. I do like having informed conversations with people of other perspectives, but lately those conversations seem few and far between. I’m not saying it’s because I’m a smart person in a valley of idiots, but if someone else were to say it, I’d be the picture of false modesty.
I still like Twitter, and I don’t want to take a break from it, but I do want to make better use of it. Communities like Twitter are what you make of them, depending on who you follow and how you participate. So here are three simple rules I’m going to try and do a better job of following:
- As soon as it becomes clear that I’m talking to someone who’s more interested in partisan bickering than informed and respectful discussion, the conversation’s over.
- Whenever it’s clear that someone’s trying to start a bickering session, the conversation won’t even begin.
- If I notice that the bulk of someone’s Twitter feed is pointless hollering, then it’s time to hit the unfollow button.
These are obvious rules, but it’s amazing how often I break them. Pet projects like @sixweeksofrush and @nomoregundeaths practically invite this sort of bickering, and I do take the bait every now and then, if only out of sheer optimism. But like I said, I’m getting better.
Even for casual users, the first rule is especially tough to follow. There’s a myth on the web that the last person to say something is the one who wins the argument, and that myth is one of the main reasons why so many pointless arguments roll on for days. So I’m pledging, here and now, to let those people have the last word. If they want to think they’ve won, then that can just be one more thing they’re wrong about.
Now, I do hope you won’t take these rules too seriously. I’m spending less time on Twitter in general lately, and if take a while to reply to someone’s tweets, it’s probably not because I think that person’s an ignorant blowhard. If I’ve unfollowed you, then for all we know, it might be the fault of that bug. In any case, if I were to add a fourth rule to this list, it would be “stop taking Twitter so personally.”
Do feel free to join me in this pledge. Let me know how it works out for you! And if I’m not following you, and you think I ought to be, let me know where to find you.
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