Saturday, November 21, 2009

Critical Mass

Months ago I wrote a post called How To Lose Friends and Alienate People on Twitter, which was wildly popular, one of my most read pieces. It detailed the common annoyances Twitter followers had with each other. I thought I was being clever, and somewhere in the murky depths of my brain I knew I would piss someone off, even though I slapped disclaimers everywhere, and even the article itself is completely tongue-in-cheek in tone.

But I found out that some people not only DON’T have a sense of humor, but they’ll take direct aim at you and verbally spank you!

One such person did this, and un-followed me to boot.

This is the piece and the comment afterward:

How To Lose Friends and Alienate People On Twitter

There’s been a million blogs written about “Twitter Etiquette,” but I thought I would throw my three cents in on this topic as well. Disclaimer: This is all in fun, I may be completely wrong and you may be doing the opposite of everything in this list and STILL have twelve thousand followers; more power to you, friend. Here we go…

The Point Of Social Networking

The point of social networking is to be SOCIAL. If you’re going to tweet in a vacuum, Twitter is probably not the best place for you. Some people don’t really enjoy constant internal dialogue in their Tweet Stream; unless you’re Ashton Kutcher and can get away with tweeting what you had for breakfast, or have a very lively mind, you’d better start interacting with others.

The F-Bomb

Now I’m no prude by any stretch, but using the lovely F word in your tweets constantly might just offend someone. Not the word itself, but what it says about you. This is a very public place, and you reflect who you follow, and vice-versa. If I vouch for you and then you start dropping those F-Bombs in your tweets like a New York dock worker, then you need a bar of soap. (Mind you, I didn’t say NEVER curse, but the English language has billions of words to express yourself with, not just the word F__K! As fun and cathartic as that verbiage is.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I’m all for self-promoting and capitalism and all that jazz, but when you don’t even say hello and try to sell me something, you’re going down in a hail of un-follows! I even felt guilty when I started flogging my blog (Ah, see? Subversive and rude language, hidden in euphemistic terms…) The Writers Den by tweeting “Read my blog!” because it’s a rather crass method; and Auto DM’s? Ugh. You are treading on very dangerous follower toes by doing that. First, it’s impersonal, and second, it’s ANNOYING! Please stop this activity immediately. Also, if you have a book to sell, you’d do better to actually form RELATIONSHIPS with people, rather than constantly tweeting about your book, because not only is that NOT effective, it makes me want to go to the book store and walk right PAST your book without buying it, on purpose! Perhaps you should follow other self-promoters instead, and you can all sell things to each other and live happily ever after. Happy capitalism!

Erratic and Bizarre Behavior

I’m not saying I’m the sanest guy around, or that my head is screwed on any tighter then the next person, but again we are dealing with a public place here. When you emote and rant constantly, we may sympathize a little at first, but then our twitchy hand reaches for that block icon, reluctantly. I have problems too, so do the people who follow me. The only people who don’t have problems are dead people (although THAT may be construed as a problem too, in some circles.) This just isn’t the place for those kinds of discussions, unless you’re part of a Twitter Therapy group (insensitive of me I know, but a solution may be to use DM’s to express those feelings instead of tweeting stuff like “I’m losing followers! What did I say? I hate you all!!!) In the beginning I was guilty of this as well, but it can be cured!

Picking Fights and Being a Bully

I know from getting my ass kicked and being abused in grade school that bullies are very unpleasant. In the adult world it exists too, in the workplace and online. On Twitter it takes on a more subtle form; okay, you disagree with me once, twice, but all the time?? Come on! Or someone is making it clear that they don’t like something about my tweets, or my quotes, or my advice; why are you following me then?? F__K off! Some of these comments take on a very nasty tone, meant to embarrass people in public. If you want to embarrass me, do it in a DM, or else: BLOCK! I can take a tongue lashing, but not in public. You deserve a spanking for that.

If You Have 40 thousand Followers, but Confine Your Tweets to Three People

I don’t care who you talk to, or what you talk about, but you should acknowledge the existence of more than 3 people in your tweet stream. I have followers who still don’t know I exist. Why follow me then? Lord knows. But when it comes time to clean house, out they go…

Useless tweets

Recently some bonehead wrote that “40% of Tweets are useless” although I don’t know where he got those statistics. How can you qualify a useless tweet? If someone tweets about eating Bananas in their Corn Flakes, I may or may not find it interesting (or it may make me hungry) but I agree that there is such a thing as “Useless tweets”, I mean we all can’t orate like Norman Vincent Peale every second of the day, but something of value should be attached to the majority of your tweets. Entertain, enlighten, anger, incite; do any of these things. Don’t bore! (I’m one to talk; I’m surprised I’m not a mascot for Insomniacs Anonymous) One thing that will make me want to un-follow (not really, it’s just an annoyance): Too many one sided conversations; Like this:

@TheWritersDen ~ That’s great! I can’t believe it!

This will force me to go and hop back and forth to the other person to eavesdrop and get the rest of the story! (Although this is a weak argument) Once in a while it’s okay. Some do it constantly, (The theme of this post seems to be “do what you like, just don’t annoy me and do it too much…)

Indecipherable Tweeting

I consider myself well read and somewhat educated, but I don’t work for the NSA and I don’t do code-breaking. I’ve received tweets that are completely undecipherable, like this:

@The WritersDen ~ You Feel the Same? You me too HAHAAAA! U funny n can we talk? Prolly can Thx

Here’s a tip, try to be a little clearer in what you’re trying to say. I’m a very nice guy, and I’m quite tolerant, but tweets written in reverse Sanskrit or Zodiac code drive me batty. If I weren’t such a nice guy I would “UnFllow get it HAHA!”

Learn How to Spell

Okay, so I’m a grammatical stickler. Bt when you start usng lead speak 2 tweet, it gets annying! Come on! You can edit without omitting vowels! It’s easy, give it a try.

So that’s it for now. Remember, this is all in fun. Like I said, you may be doing the opposite of all the above and manage to have 3 billion followers, in which case I may eat my hat. Take care now.

Anonymous said...
Your post shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Twitter.

It isn't a "social networking" site. It's a communications tool, for people to communicate, or not, as they wish, in their absolute discretion.


1. You attach yourself like a limpet to the twitterers whose feed you want to receive.

2. You avoid - either by the BLOCK button or by Unfollowing - those twitterers whose feed you don't want to receive.


Your post suggests there's a specific way other people should be twittering (the way you'd like, naturally) whereas the opposite is the case: everyone can do precisely as they like.

You don't like someone's twitters? Well have the brains to unfollow or block them, then. End of problem. Don't start ranting here about how other people choose to use the tool. No one is forcing their twitters upon you. Get it?
September 1, 2009 8:50 AM


For a long time after this I was gun-shy, worried about putting words to page in fear of reprisal from some demanding reader, but then I realized that I did nothing wrong. Writers are apt to piss people off from time to time. But It got me thinking about the power of words, and the effect they may have on certain readers.

I mean, we shouldn’t walk on egg-shells when we write, or placate, or try to remain neutral, harmless, safe, bland! What good is that? I know it also flies in the face of the entire article above, where I wrote about the annoying things people on Twitter do. Aren’t Tweeters allowed to do pretty much as they want? It is a free country after all (Countries. I’m Canadian, you may be American) however, As I mentioned above, the entire article is laced with tongue - in- cheek references and self-deprecation. I KNEW that a lot of that stuff I listed was just plain funny, and not at all serious. I guess it didn’t come across that way to "Anonymous". Perhaps my wacky sense of humor and satire needed to be a little clearer.

So, take heart; when someone hammers you about a post you wrote, or verbally abuses you in the comment section of your blog, remember, it’s your role as a writer to provoke, anger, enlighten, educate, learn and just plain have fun while composing. And don’t wait for months before you get over a bad review like I did. Staring at that comment for the past while was like an itch just waiting to be scratched, and I guess I finally scratched it.

And boy it feels good!

Huzzah! ~ David Hunter

This Post Has Been Mentioned by Writery, at the blog From the Desk of a Writer : "Literature reviews, publishing links, writing rants, and soap box commentary." ~ Check it out!

Here's a related post on "acidgalore": The Things You Do on Twitter That I Hate


  1. Sounds like you hit a few nerves for the guy.

    I can't believe how many faceless, nameless people follow me on Twitter? (I only just joined.) Every time I post a blog feed, they swarm like mosquitoes. It's a little disconcerting because quite often they are women hoping to impress me with their erotic photo. I'm a girl. Apparently they overlooked that when they blindly clicked to follow me.

    Great post. :)

  2. I for one looooved that post..I found everything true. Twitter is much more than social network it is like a live up to the minute linked-in. If I vouch for you and you are be a profanity spewing weirdo does reflect poorly on the person who follows you. Also, I have worked for or worked with many people on my twitter list so by extension that person (the followee) to a degree represents you. (hope that makes sense lol)

    You hit that persons nerve because he saw himself in the post. But I say, keep it coming.

  3. This is my fourth try at a comment. Exasperating. I agree with your assessment of Twitter. I enjoy it and banter back and forth with friends - I block those I don't want to see my tweets and some I just ignore because they are just trying to amass as many people as possible. Your commenter is rude and uneducated and doesn't understand that social networking and communication tool are interchangeable. We all get stupid commenters on our blogs. I've had some comments actually bring tears to my eyes because they were so hateful - apparently the entire world doesn't always understand my sense of humor. Now I just delete them. Cheers! And keep up the good work - I enjoy coming here to visit.

  4. I found everything true as well, and of course I exaggerated things a bit for the sake of humor, because really, we can tolerate most of that stuff anyway. Some people just take it all too seriously.

    Thank's for commenting!

  5. I linked this post at my site today. (In a good way.) I'm not sure how to make a pingback work outside Wordpress...

    Just to let you know. :)

  6. Thank you for that endorsement. I put up a link to your site as well.

    Take care and many thanks.

  7. I remember liking that post a lot. There's always someone new to piss off, even when we're not trying. :) Keep up the great posts for the rest of us!

  8. David - I truly enjoyed your original post. You might find the following article of interest:

    A snippet:
    "Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining. Their resentment, their desire to be heard at the most vituperative level, at the most unpleasant and malevolent, genuinely ill-willed malevolent, level is terrifying and I am very often simply not able to cope with that."

    Keep on keepin' on, my friend. Love your blog.

  9. If you had an infinite number of readers, you would receive an infinite number of criticisms.

    One strategy is to take a "Thanks for the feedback!" attitude to everything and move on. It can help you relax and know what to say--and when to say nothing.

    We send as many as ~25,000 clicks when we tweet about an article (usually much, much less) so we've seen this happen more than once. You're doing great :)

  10. Wise words in the face of Criticism: One strategy is to take a "Thanks for the feedback!" attitude.

    Thank you for that perspective, I will consider it in the future.

    Take care, and thanks again =)

  11. Hi David--

    I've been in class all day and just got your message at Twitter. I just wanted to let you know I've got you on my RSS feed and to thank you for your kind words.

    I apologize for having to leave this on your blog. Twitter is being stubborn and won't allow me to write you at this moment. (Ironic considering the topic of this blog post!!)

    Please feel free to delete this post once read to keep the blog on topic. I don't mean to seem like a Spammer. ;)

    My best to you--


  12. I found it rather entertaining myself. I might just start following you on twitter - at least I would if I had an account anyway. Keep up the good work! Sarcastic/Humor is my favorite genre :-)

  13. Alas, it reads like 'anonymous' has all the sense of humour, timing and proportion of a coffee table: and he doesn't understand satire or irony, either - to him, irony us just the same as brassy and coppery.

    "Twitter: the Web's latest amateur porn outlet - where a vocabulary of only 140 characters is considered verbose!"

    Twitter - A Beginner's Guide

  14. Be proud, a comment like that means that your blog has attracted a troll. You have made it bud!

  15. Thanks for that, Joe! It means a lot. And Cosmic Naval, thank you for your kind words; I feel a lot better now. Cheers..

  16. One word my friend WOW! You know you've done well, when you've hit a nerve or two. It's a writers job to make one laugh, sad, and even pissed off. Without instilling some kind of emotion in your reader, what kind of writer would that make us. Boring!

    Tis only one persons opinion my friend. Writing is one of those professions where readers will either love us or hate us.

    You're talented and I look forward to more great posts, tweets and ranting. :D



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