The following is a public service announcement about you, me and Twitter. Some of it are things I’ve said before, but I’m presenting it all here in a handy, easy-to-read numbered list. Ready? Here we go.
1. I use Twitter. A lot! Here I am over there.
2. When I use Twitter, I am generally using it as a public individual making statements made for public consumption, i.e., I assume the things I write there will be seen widely and outside my immediate circle of friends and acquaintances.
3. As such, people I don’t know will frequently respond to tweets I write. This is fine! That’s part of the nature of Twitter. Respond away.
4. If I find your reply interesting, amusing or otherwise of note, or if I’m just in the mood to be chatty, I may respond. Because that’s my assumption when you replied: that you were open to a response from me as well. Likewise, if you “@” me on a Tweet that’s not a response, I assume that you meant for me to see it and possibly respond. Don’t “@” me if you don’t intend to invite me into the conversation!
5. But I may not respond, for various reasons. You should assume that I won’t. It’s not personal, I promise.
6. Most people who respond to me on Twitter are lovely people. But some people aren’t. If I decide you aren’t, then here’s what I will likely do: I’ll mute you, which means that whatever you’ve tweeted at me will disappear from my tweet timeline and no subsequent tweet from you will show up in it, ever. To me, it will be as if you don’t exist on Twitter at all! Why would I do this? Because life’s too short to deal with irritating people on Twitter.
7. No, you probably won’t know if I’ve muted you — kind of the point of muting people is that they don’t know. I get a warm feeling in my heart from the idea of the muted, jabbering on as if I’m still able to see their “cleverness.”
8. That said, sometimes before I mute someone, I may let them know I think they’re a complete waste of a circulatory system, or some such. Then I mute them. They may have a comeback to what I said, but I wouldn’t know. From my point of view I’ve gotten the last word.
9. No, I’m not obliged to read your Tweets, and no, it’s not censorship to mute you. You are free to keep tweeting at me as much as you like! That’s the very essence of free speech! But “free speech” does not guarantee you an audience — in this case, me. If you’re the sort of person confused about this, it’s just another reason why we’re both better off having you muted in my tweetstream.
10. Things that may get you muted include, but are not limited, to:
- Being racist, sexist, homophobic or other varieties of bigot;
- Being insulting and boring about it;
- Being insulting and clever, but not knowing when to quit;
- Being the sort of person who is under the impression that a medium confined to 140 characters per post is the perfect medium for a substantive debate on a complex issue;
- Having your understanding of social/political issues clearly confined to cue cards provided to you by others;
- Being creepy;
- Being an author or other creator whose purpose for being on Twitter is to spam people about your work;
- Being someone who believes that the only reason I exist on Twitter is to retweet something you think I should;
- Appointing yourself the Arbiter of Things I Should and Should Not Say On Twitter;
- Trying to pick a fight with me;
- Extreme stupidity;
- Just generally being an asshole.
11. Occasionally someone with a large number of followers on Twitter (and/or a large number of sock puppet accounts) will attempt a pile-on, in which his (and it’s almost always his) followers try to flood my tweet stream with nonsense. When that happens, I use the original asshole’s Twitter handle as a mutable phrase, which means that any tweet bearing that handle is pre-emptively muted. As the sort of gibbering yahoo who piles on inevitably includes the originator’s handle so they can get a virtual head pat for doing their master’s bidding, this cuts out almost all of the nonsense. So if you’re the dog-piling sort, don’t bother; I won’t even see it. Also, maybe rethink your life choices.
12. Basically, I am on Twitter for my own amusement, not to engage in argument, substantive or otherwise, particularly with people I don’t know, and especially with people who I determine to be jerks. If you understand that when you communicate with me, we’ll get along fine. If you don’t, then you’ll be muted. Either way the problem will be solved.