Twitter is a fun thing. We can keep up with our wittier friends, pry into the lives of our favorite celebrities, and know instantly when our favorite websites put up new content. People love to shit on Twitter, but how else would you see pictures of Piccadilly Circus at sunrise taken by Eddie Izzard? How else would you see all those naked pictures of Wayne Coyne's hot wife? And if you haven't seen Rocks Off live-tweet a concert yet, we just feel sorry for you.
However, like any social platform, Twitter takes care, grace, and a certain minimum social awareness to keep from embarrassing yourself and giving your friends the vicarious douche chills. But this is the internet. There are more people completely lacking in social skills here than there are animated gifs of tentacles doing horrible, illegal things to Japanese schoolgirls. As a public service, we're going to point out some of the things many of you do that cause your friends to wince and wish silently for the morning they log in to Twitter and find your account defunct.
5. Oversharing Ask any politician who's had naked pictures released online, or any ultra-serious cutting-edge avant-garde performance artist who was in a Christian vocal quartet in high school: once something is on the internet, there it shall stay. You can't take stuff back. Even if you think nobody noticed you drunkenly describing the location, level of inflammation, and consistency of the fluid leaking out of your stress-induced buboes, we can assure you that they did, and many of them took screen captures.
Screen captures are the easiest thing in the world to do; you hit "Print Screen," open Paint, hit "Paste," save, and voila, a permanent record of anything you've seen. This would include the enraged 5,000-word rant about what a whore your sister is, the time you let slip that you were ditching work to go watch the Texans lose, and even that one occasion a couple of years ago when you admitted that you kind of liked the music of John Tesh. The internet has a short attention span, but oddly enough, it never forgets. Not really.
4. Having a Horrifying Icon Your icon appears right next to your every single tweet. It's what you choose to have people associate you with visually when they read your words. We're not sticklers or squares; we love goofy, creative, and strange icons. What we don't like are things like the icon of a tweeter who shall remain nameless, which was a photograph of an actual kitten with its head bashed in. We love animals, particularly cats, and this gory kitty corpse appeared every time one of our friends retweeted this douchebag, and it nearly drove us insane with rage to the point where we called the guy out in front of God and everybody, unprovoked.
Because wow, what a hardcore character, right? He must certainly be a gentleman of hearty fortitude and intriguing mystery to present such a thing as his "how-do-you-do" to the rest of the world, right? Lllladieeees? See, we're doing it again. But let that be a prime example that your icon makes a statement. A picture of Calvin peeing on or praying to anything makes us think you're an idiot. A picture of yourself flipping off the camera makes us think you're a child. And a picture of a dead cat makes us think you would benefit from being tied naked to an electric fence and flayed alive with a bike chain because FUCKING FUCK THAT SHITHEEL.
3. Calling Out People Who Unfollow You Here's an old axiom which has sort of gone by the wayside, which is a real shame, because it's incredibly useful, relevant, and kind of a relief to know. Are you ready? Here it is:
Other peoples' opinions of you are none of your business.
Oh, they're nice to know. Knowing what people think of you can be especially useful when you're trying to overhaul your personality or figure out why the people you try to date keep running away from you screaming after they've talked to you for five minutes. But overall, people have their own quirks, histories, and methods of thinking, and so how their unique brain-meat stamps your face on itself is none of your damn concern.
This is why using one of those Twitter applications that lets you see who just unfollowed you is unhealthy to overuse. Every once in a while to see how many spammers you're losing is fine, but when you use it to take to task people who unfollow you, that is not cool. They don't owe you an explanation, and they obviously didn't feel like explaining their decision to you, or else they would have right before they clicked "unfollow." This makes people afraid of you and your swift, overly zealous Sword of Unfriending Justice, and actually makes them more likely to unfollow and then block you.
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2. Constant Whoring We understand that you may work in social media or public relations or something that lends itself easily to Twitter, but you need to keep separate accounts for your business interests and your personal life. Your business partners probably don't want to read about what kind of sandwich you just made for yourself, and your friends and family almost certainly give nary a shit about the synergy you're optimizing or whatever the hell people do in real offices nowadays.
If you do nothing but tweet link after link to event after event after contest after news story after in-depth article about your field, you're basically a spammer. This will make people lose interest in you as a person, and sigh when they see you filling up their feed with still another useless link to whatever it is you're pimping today. Be a person. Tweet random thoughts every now and then, and interact with your friends on a real level. Talk about shoes or something, for chrissakes. Just don't be such a robot. There are already plenty of those on Twitter.
1. Twitter Bombing We understand that the temptation to take a major gripe into the public forum is huge, but hang on. Hair Balls knows from experience that taking to your feed in a furious tirade can backfire on you, make things awkward for friends and co-workers, and get you in trouble with your boss. People tend to shy away from social confrontation, so when you force your friends and followers to live through a protracted spleen-venting, you're not doing yourself or them any favors.
We know we said peoples' opinions of you are none of your business, but that doesn't mean it makes sense for you to go around convincing everyone you're a hotheaded asshole with no self-control. Before you call out someone by name and proceed to unleash the dogs of war, think back to when you've seen such a thing done in your own feed. What was your reaction? Unless it was someone chewing out a universally reviled monster like Glenn Beck or Jesse Ventura, odds are it kind of made you itch. Avoid this kind of Twitter drama if you can possibly help it. And if you can't, at least get drunk before you unload so that your rage will be funny.