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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

How I approach Twiiter

My "Twitter creed":
  • NO AGENDA.  I try not to tell people what to think.   I have no monopoly on truth, so can only offer things I find interesting and hope the reader reaches their own conclusions.  It's a tough line sometimes, but you know when you’ve crossed it and your tweets come across as being part of the thought police.  This doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion (not having one would make me boring, by the way) but there’s a big difference between expressing that opinion in a way that explains what I think/why and expressing it in a way that implies that everyone should think the same or else they are an idiot.  There are exceptions to this rule – expressing strong support for a campaign against racism or injustice, for example.  I tweet things I find interesting and which I think others might also find interesting,  I try not to have an agenda – I’m not trying to influence what others think, to imply they should agree with certain views or to belittle anyone that holds different opinions.  I try to just offer things that stimulate my brain and which others might also find interesting. 
  • STAY POSITIVE.  Life is hard enough without our Twitter feeds being filled with negativity.  I think its good to go by the rule “if you haven’t got anything positive to say, don’t say anything.” I try only to tweet positively – things I like, things I find interesting, things I find uplifting.  Having a twitter stream of ‘product x is rubbish’ or ‘company y stinks’ isn’t an uplifting experience, so I try not to do it.  I like my twitter stream to be uplifting, so try my best to make others that way by not tweeting negatively about things I don’t like.  I don’t see twitter as a steam valve for me to vent about things that annoy me – at times its tempting, but I’d hardly present a compelling public image if I tweet about every tiny thing that irritates me (hint: there are lots of those, so be grateful for my restraint!).
  • SPEAK TO EVERYONE.  I try not to tweet in-jokes or comments aimed at a subset of my followers that others might not understand.  Reading things you don’t understand just makes you feel stupid.  I’m sure I’m not alone in not liking that feeling, so I try not to do it to others.  I try to make my tweets accessible and not selective.  Twitter is public place, so I try to reflect that by speaking to anyone and everyone that might be listening.
  •  HAVE SUBSTANCE. As a general rule, if I can’t think why anyone would be interested I don’t tweet it – so I try not to tweet along the lines of “I put the kettle on” or “the cat just yawned”.  I follow lots of interesting people, so have what I consider a large tweet stream.  I like my stream to be full of interesting things, not trivia that needlessly pads it even further.  I try to respect others twitter streams by not tweeting trivia.  The definition of trivia can be elastic though - some seemingly trivial items can sometimes be interesting if they show an unexpected side to somebody, but I think its usually straightforward to decide if something might be interesting or not. 
I am not perfect.  I’m pretty sure I’ve broken all four rules.  I try to adhere to these guidelines but will inevitably stray from time-to-time, so I apologise ahead of time.  But I try - and the four guidelines are how I try to behave on Twitter.  I'm not suggesting everyone has to follow these rules (see rule 1) but offer them as an explanation for how I've decided to approach Twitter.

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