Twitter is a useful tool. I've made new friends on Twitter, and I have learned a lot and been helped by many of my followers whom I have never met. And yet, just like anything else, a slow, creeping movement to clog up my Twitter feed has started to drive me a little nuts. I have yet to stop following anyone, because thankfully none of my dear followers have pushed me that far. And yet I find myself mildly annoyed at the below five things, and I presume that many others will as well. What do y'all think?
1. Exclamation Points!!!!!!
We all get exciting about things. Sometimes we shout, sometimes we sing, and sometimes some of us but definitely not me preej a little. But the best way to display your obvious excitement is not to go onto Twitter and fill up your precious 140-character limit with copious amounts of exclamation points. One will suffice, in all situations that can ever be dreamed up. If the sentiment is something that warrants additional excitement above and beyond the grammatical definition of an exclamation point, try using high-level marketing concepts such as "adjectives." You should treat exclamation points like the discontinued flavor of Pop Tarts that you really, really like: ration it for the few times in which it can be properly appreciated.
2. Copious Retweets
Retweeting small projects or accomplishments from your peers is fine. The witty one-liner or the important news bit that may slip through the normal cracks in the mainstream media world is OK as well. But don't retweet stuff that's going to show up on the evening news in like twenty minutes anyway unless it involves national monuments blowing up or the Mavs winning the championship. Don't retweet stuff from major companies, organizations, and advocacy groups: if I wanted to know what the NRA or PETA or Microsoft thought about something, I'd be following them, not you. You can certainly retweet, but just like anything else, if you do it too much they all become worthless.
3. Passing Off Obviously Unoriginal Material
Don't try to quote that person or own that one-liner if you didn't write it yourself. Yes, there's that 140-character limit to deal with, but that's not an excuse for plagiarism; if you can't make it fit, it's not worth doing. (And, yes, just re-tweet that shit if you think it's that funny.) I don't want to read my feed and think to myself, "Dude, that was a lot funnier when Will Rogers said it a century ago."*
4. Anything That Is Trying To Sell Me Something
Again, do this in moderation, and I'll be OK. Trying to unload a used air conditioner or have tickets to sell? Have some crafts you're proud of showing off and/or making some coin on? That's fine. Even bundling everything up into one nice, clean tweet once a day is acceptable. But if you own a "business" that is suspiciously shaped like a pyramid, I don't want your "updates" every two hours letting me know that the price of off-brand energy drinks or bulk vinyl siding has dropped in price 40%. If I wanted to see commercials, I would do everything else in this country ever.
5. Looooong Public Conversations
This drives me up the wall to no end. If the conversation is going to last much longer that two or three responses, take that shit to direct messages or just text the people if you can. Nothing is wrong with a little back-and-forth, and there's certainly light-hearted conversations that are better consumed publicly, but if it is a specific conversation that would look more approrpriate in an IM chat room, then, well, go to an IM chat room. Don't let all of us in on your dirty laundry or--more likely--banal and remarkably long-winded conversations about when you should all meet at Applebee's.
*Yes, I follow people who are likely to 1) quote Will Rogers, and 2) try and rip off Will Rogers.