This is a post that I’ve meant to write, started to write, given up writing, re-started writing, given up again, and now re-started for the hundredth time over the course of the last three or four years. In the post-2020 election world, it seems like a good time to try again to publicly codify these things.
(I’m reminded why I’ve never finished these posts before. The more I dig into my thought processes, the more I find a complicated and nearly-limitless set of rules.)
Believe it or not, I have a mental policy guide that governs the tweets that I write and how I interact with people on Twitter. As in real life, I don’t just blurt out loud whatever my chaotic mind dredges up with no regard for the consequences. I view Twitter as a publication platform just like a blog or a magazine or a newspaper, and I thoughtfully consider whether I will be able to defend my words at some unspecified point in the future.
There are several primary purposes for my @endgameviable account: 1) A distribution point for content from the massive Endgame Viable media empire (ha ha). 2) Daily practice in writing clever sentences, since it’s far easier to do on Twitter than in blog posts. I’m thinking thoughts in my head almost constantly, all day, every day, and if I don’t put them somewhere they’ll be lost forever. 3) Over the last several years it’s evolved into a sort of diary or archive of current events in and around my life, something I can look back on and understand where my mind was over time.
I try very, very hard not to reply to anyone else’s conversation thread. In the world of 2020, I have no idea what state of mind the person on the other side of those tweets is in, I have no idea whether I will be welcome or not, and it’s safer (for me) to assume I won’t be. Sometimes I forget and break this rule and I often regret it. I don’t make any presumptions about who is or isn’t a “friend” on social media. This basically means, I very rarely reply to anyone else’s tweets. It doesn’t matter if I agree or not, or if I care or not, or if someone is pleading for help on a topic and I have the exact answer they need right at my fingertips. I typically only respond to people who reply to my tweets. If anyone wants my advice or opinion on any specific subject, they’ll have to ask me directly.
I almost always use the “favorite” indicator to thank people for responding to my tweets, particularly when I don’t have anything else to add. I’m not a conversationalist. I’m quite bad at social banter, actually. It’s a constant source of anxiety in my life.
Occasionally there are times where I don’t have anything more to add to a conversation, or don’t want the conversation to continue, where I might normally “favorite” a tweet, but there is something I find objectionable about the tweet and don’t want to “favorite” it. In those cases, I will either say nothing, or type out a response instead of using the favorite, because I don’t want anyone to think I agree with something I actively find objectionable. It’s rare.
UPDATE 12/7/2020: The point here is that a “favorite” should never be taken to mean that I agree with the worldview or politics or inferences of the tweet I’m favoriting. If you’re trying to puzzle out my personal sense of ethics or politics from the tweets I favorite, you’re going to be wrong. You would do much better to just ask me directly.
The usage of the “favorite” is probably the area of social media that I am wrestling the most with how to use going forward. I’ve been trying to wean myself off of using it more and more in 2020, with varying degrees of success.
I don’t retweet things. Period, the end. If I want to publicly endorse something on the Internet, I will write a tweet and put a link in that tweet. I’ve had retweets turned off for over a year on my gaming timeline.
I typically use quote-tweets on news-related articles as a more convenient substitute for having to go to their Wild West comment sections. I avoid comment sections on most web sites, unless they happen to come up in a Google search.
I don’t comment on celebrity deaths or tragedies, with rare exceptions. It’s safe to assume that I find tragedies awful, and celebrity deaths sad.
I avoid tweeting political viewpoints, however I’m not averse to tweeting *about* politics at times, subject to certain internal rules. Before I send a politically-themed tweet, I do an internal evaluation of whether I think the tweet will mean the same thing to the entire political spectrum. I tend to focus on the mechanical process of politics, which is far more interesting to me personally. I’m also a big fan of political satire. The politics of fear and anger is not interesting to me at all.
I don’t engage in any form of activism, regardless of what I may or may not believe about the topics in question. I believe people should think for themselves and form their own opinions. I reject any form of persuasion to influence people’s opinions, be it sales, marketing, “hype,” or political activism. Educate yourselves and practice critical thinking and skepticism every day so you can protect yourself from intentional and unintentional social engineering, that’s my message to the masses, and it’s the behavior I try to model online.
I don’t subtweet. I try very hard to make sure the context of my tweets is abundantly obvious to all, and reference what I’m referring to where needed.
I avoid using the word “you” in my tweets, if possible. My #1 pet peeve about my fellow tweeters lately is sentence construction that sounds like it’s yelling at their followers, which are the people who are supposed to like you. As a reader, it’s very off-putting.
I try to avoid emoting in public. If I’m following my internal guidelines correctly, my tweets will look roughly the same whether I’m jumping up and down for joy or crying in a fetal position on the floor.
I typically don’t unfollow people if they write outrageous tweets, especially if they’re following me. I might mute people if they begin ranting about something that seems pointless or disagreeable to me, but I usually un-mute people later.
I typically try to avoid memes and chain letters and retweet-if-you-believe and tag-three-friends kinds of tweets. I will write a tweet of my own if I strongly believe something needs to be said, and you’ll need to ask me directly if you want to know what I believe. (I promise it will be more nuanced than can fit into a tweet, though.)
I only consider unfollowing people if they display a long-term trend of tweeting nothing but delusional, angry rants day after day for a long time. Occasionally I will purge follows if I notice I’m following someone who never says anything, and/or I don’t remember who they were or why I followed them in the first place. But I try to avoid unfollowing people who follow me. The first line of defense for me is a mute.
I’m very bad at noticing if or when people follow me, and I often forget to follow people back. I avoid following brands and bots and marketing drones back, of course, but I can’t think of any situation where I’ve ever failed to follow someone back because I personally didn’t like them. I absolutely fit the stereotypical archetype of the “absent-minded professor” and I very often forget basic human behavior that is common to the rest of the world. :)
It’s entirely possible I’ve forgotten some very important rules here. I’ll try to update this as I think of them.
Anyway, if you ever wonder why I’m not talking about any subject that everyone else is talking about, it’s probably covered in the rules above.