I tend to make lists in 5s. My Top 5 favorite movies. My 5 New Year’s Wishes. You get the idea.
I realized the other day I had subconsciously come up with my own set of rules for twitter. They function as general social media guidelines, too, but specifically for twitter. I thought I’d share them, so that they’re actually written down somewhere.
So, in no particular order, here are
5. No auto-follow-backs – I know, I know, what’s the point of twitter then, right? But I’ve never really gotten the point of automatically following back anyone who follows you. I like to follow people who are either A) engaging or B) informative. Be one or the other, and of course I’ll follow you! Facebook is for stalking. Twitter is for engaging. At least for me. Now having said all that, #TGDN is the exception to the rule. I joined #TGDN on principle, even though I’ve never been gulagged. Just trying to help people out. In a few weeks, once #TGDN plateaus, I’ll probably be doing a heck of a lot of unfollowing and going back to my standard “only follow interesting/non-psycho people" policy. And if you don’t know what #TGDN is, click any of those links to find out (and join if you like)
4. RT the good stuff – I RT some bad stuff too, in the interest of twitter disinfectant. (People being hateful/snotty? RT their crap and let others see them for what they are. 9 times out of 10, they either back off or delete the tweet altogether). But I also like to RT. A lot. In case you haven’t noticed. Why? To put it bluntly: I am by far one of the least clever people in the world. I know this because I follow a lot of witty, intelligent people on twitter. So when they say something funny/interesting/profound, I RT it. I also have a strict policy to RT any and all tweets that send encouraging messages to our troops and military families. This isn’t for me, but for all my fellow milspouses out there who can often feel forgotten about. Want a guaranteed RT from me? Support our troops!
3. It’s okay to unfollow – And it’s okay to be unfollowed. It’s not personal – it’s the internet! I’d be lying if I said numbers didn’t matter to me at all. Of course it’s an ego boost to see new followers on twitter or pinterest or the blog. I like to think I’m interesting enough that people would want to follow me. But then if they unfollow, well, I don’t let that get to me anymore. There could be any number of reasons. Maybe they only followed me for a period of time, like football season. Maybe they closed their account. Maybe they went crazy one day and followed a lot of people, and then got overwhelmed and needed to downsize. That happens to me often. And yeah, maybe they didn’t like something I said. In which case, well, you can’t please everybody. And I probably had no idea who they were anyway. And for perspective: I’ve lost some dear friends in real life through painful breakups. Someone unfollowing me online? Barely a blip on my radar in comparison.
2. Sundays off – I had to make this rule for myself last year. There are lots of really important things going on in our country and in the world, absolutely. Lots of important discussions to be had, and I want to be a part of those discussions. But I need one day a week to separate myself from all of that. And yes, evil doesn’t take a day off. I get that. But I do. I have to. Call it a Sabbath for the mind, which I think was really the point of Sabbath anyway. A day to pull back from The World and focus back on what’s most important and make sure that my mental and emotional health aren’t grounded in what happens in the world day-to-day, but on eternal things. Giving myself a 24-hour break from posting or RTing about those issues once a week has done wonders for my spirit. I highly recommend it.
1. Twitter is forever – by which I mean, twitter is filled with people who follow, screencap and archive tweets as a hobby. Just like everything else internet-wise, once it’s posted, even if you delete it, it’s always possible that someone snapped a pic of it and saved it somewhere. You never know who’s watching, and you can’t take it back. In addition, “Don’t say anything on twitter you wouldn’t say in real life.” I apply that policy to my RTs as well. If it’s not a joke I would actually tell, I don’t RT it. If it’s a good point but involves language I wouldn’t say myself, I don’t RT it. That may seem prudish, but for me it feels like the only way I can “to thine own self be true.” If you’ll pardon the horribly mashed-up sentence structure.
Conversely, you never know who is watching and how far a single tweet will reach. Yeah, I tweet a lot about food and puppies and movies, but I also try and keep in the front of my mind that ultimately, twitter is my 6 degrees of separation from the world. You know that verse that says, “To whom much is given, much is required”? Twitter gives each of us a huge platform, bigger than we probably realize. Thousands of people I’d never meet in real life can see what I post each day. Food and puppies and movies are all great. But I try to be mindful that I can use twitter for higher purposes as well. If I’m only using twitter to make myself known throughout the world, I’m wasting a major opportunity.
That pretty much covers everything for me. If you still want to follow me after all that (ha ha) my twitter link is up there at the top. Do you have any self-imposed twitter guidelines?