Grown Men: How to Use Twitter (For Adults)
Welcome to Grown Men! My name is Darren Sharp, and I’ll be running our (hopefully) entertaining and (at least somewhat) informative new etiquette series. This column is meant to be a compass to help you through the dark annals of maturity and turn you into a capital ‘A’ Adult. I won’t pretend to be some sort of flawless spirit guide, but I’m here to take this long, scary journey with you. Today, we’ll be discussing the expansive world of Twitter.
A tweet is a 140 characters or less window into your soul. Anyone who comes across your Twitter profile, for professional reasons or otherwise, is going to judge you as a human being based on the first two or three things they see. If one of those things happens to say, “Got crunk last nite!” with an Instagram link to an image of your empty bottle of Grey Goose, you’re ruined, regardless of how classy you think you usually are.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind, using my past tweeting successes and failures as a benchmark.
1. Watch your potty mouth.
I’ve never met an F-bomb I didn’t like. Still, it’s important to keep an eye on how often you’re swearing on social media. The occasional profanity is fine, but this is unacceptable, even if that “bitch” was being a “dumb ho.”
My general rule is that swearing is allowed if the tweet would be less effective or wouldn’t make sense without it. Just think of swearing on Twitter as your favourite sweater: Put it on often enough that people appreciate it, but wear it sparingly enough that you don’t get called out for wearing it constantly. It’s all about moderation.
2. Construct tweets as if you’re at an appropriate reading level.
This is a tricky one, because there’s an art to forgoing proper sentence structure on Twitter that can be really clever when done effectively. However, usually I find that a tweet sounds smarter when everything’s grammatically correct, and that’s especially important if you’re trying to give off a certain grown up online aura. Don’t let the character limit intimidate you; you can craft a perfect tweet that still includes apostrophes, dashes, and the Oxford comma—if you’re into that sort of thing.
Spell checking is also extremely important. There’s nothing worse than realizing hours after-the-fact that you’ve tweeted a blatant, unforgivable spelling mistake.
“Ho’r dourves?” Really, Darren of 2009? Minus another ten points for the alcohol-related humblebrag.
3. Be funny, but don’t be a dick.
My favourite Twitter users are the ones who have turned the medium into a platform for incredible one-liners. You don’t have to be hilarious to gain followers, but it certainly helps. Problems occur when you fall on the wrong side of the thin line between being sarcastic and being a flat out jerk. No one likes a bully.
One of these tweets called a stranger a “bitch” and yelled at her in capital letters for her mundane fashion choices. The other made a relevant pop culture reference and was less mean-spirited, unless you’re particularly defensive about Michelle’s place in the Destiny’s Child hierarchy. Cleverness always wins over open, baseless hostility.
4. Learn how to properly employ hashtags.
There is nothing–and I mean NOTHING–worse than a Twitter user who misuses hashtags. You can use hashtags as a clever addendum to a tweet that needs a little extra sarcasm, but normally, they’re meant to allow people to follow conversations on certain topics that are important to them. Not enough of the world understands this.
There are two major faux pas in hashtag etiquette:
1. When someone hashtags random words within their tweet with zero rhyme or reason: Thankfully, I don’t have any examples of this from my own Twitter history, because even 2009 Darren picked up on this early. But usually it comes in the form of someone tweeting something like, “Good #morning, everyone!” Are other users really looking to follow the conversation on “morning?” Doubtful.
2. When someone uses excessively long hashtags: Thankfully, for teaching purposes, Darren of 2010 was a master at this one.
5. For the love of God, don’t tweet about how drunk you are/were/would like to be.