Twitter + Etiquette = Twitterquette?
I’m not an early adopter. I’m not even, necessarily, a late adopter. When pagers were en vogue I eyed them as suspiciously as I would electronic leashes. It wasn’t until after living in Japan that I learned mobile phones had some worth – just because I sort of had to have one there. I’m an observer, not an adopter.
So I’ve watched with some enthusiasm this Twitter development as the early adopters give it a shot. Initially, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. Who wants to listen to somebody else’s shorthand stream of consciousness? My own stream is winding and confusing enough.
And there’s subscribing or "following" involved, two words I’ve never liked, the first one involving a process of commitment to another’s ideas, and the second the relinquishing of my self-sovereignty (I don’t expect others to follow, just expect me to follow me, however awry I lead myself).
Despite my misgivings, people have used the thing in some pretty interesting ways. Twittering the birth of a child was one of those ways. There’s also the Twitter rumor mill. And the Twitter foot-in-mouth syndrome.
But who knew there was Twitter etiquette? Robert Scoble, who’s been at the heart of at least one Twitterversy in the past, is pleased to let readers know that when it comes to Twitterquette, he’s a savage.
Scoble outlines 10 Twitter commandments he breaks, from sending more than 140 characters to Tweeting more than five times a day. But my personal favorite is Rule 9:
If other people are telling you you’re spamming, you should listen to them. Me? I tell them to screw off. Why? Because if I’m being too noisy then there’s a little button called “unfollow.” Why should I change my behavior to suit others? Many other people tell me they like my noisy behavior. One thing I like about Twitter is that you don’t need to follow people you think are jerks.
Yes, well, as long as we resist the temptation to worry that our offline behavior will one day mirror our online behavior (I’m a little sensitive to this temptation, having recently been e-lynched by a swarm of teenagers in the comments section because they didn’t like what I said – or didn’t really say – about their favorite rock band), then I suppose being a noisy Twitter jerk won’t be much of real problem.