Using Twitter Right
It was pointed out to me the other day that I have been “on Twitter” for almost 10 years. In reality it’s a few less than that because I made an account and then never used it for a bit at the start. Still, a wild amount of time spent on a Bird Website.
It’s only been in 2021, though, that I’ve started to really think about how I use Twitter and what its function in my life can be. I’ll collect some thoughts here (mostly in the form of tweets, because it’s fun and meta).
Crafting the TL
There’s nothing more critical than determining who to follow, because that will determine your timeline, which is how the majority of people interact with Twitter. (See first link for an exception.)
There’s an important mindset-shift that makes the TL better:
Twitter became significantly more useful and enjoyable for me once I started viewing it as a community of humans to interact with, instead of a feed of content to consume.— Ben (8/100 poems ✍️) (@BenRatkey) February 4, 2021
This is crucial, because when your timeline is made up of cool people instead of content, you’re more inclined to interact with folks. Nick Cammarata posits Twitter as a tool for Learning in Public when you have a high level of interaction:
tired: "building something new 🚀"— Nick Cammarata (@nickcammarata) March 23, 2021
inspired: exploring in real time in public with friends
And a great quote from antiquity that applies to a good, interactive timeline:
子曰：學而時習，不亦說乎？有朋自遠方來，不亦樂乎？— Colin Gorrie (@colingorrie) March 31, 2021
The Master said, "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? (Analects 1:1, trans. Legge)
Once you’ve got a timeline with people you enjoy, you have to start putting yourself out there and interacting with folks. A tweet from Visa on doing this (and the start of a great thread):
There is an art to replying and commenting, and probably like 60-70% of people I’ve seen on the internet fail at it. The important thing is not to speak your mind, but to “support” the OP. You can support them by disagreeing well & you can “mis-support” them by agreeing stupidly— visa is almost done with @introspectVV (@visakanv) September 11, 2018
People who only tweet to create content may feel like they’re on their #hustle, but anecdotally, the best way to grow your network is not with constant creation, it’s through conversation (i.e. co-creation).
Three times in the past week, I’ve hopped on calls with someone from twitter because one or both of us was looking for somebody to work with or talk to.
Day #9— Nat Sharpe (@nat_sharpe_) March 31, 2021
Had a surprise phone call with @rhymeswithvocal
Talked about how we've both curated our Twitter feeds to prevent doomscrolling. And shared stories of Internet friendships becoming IRL friendships
Thanks Charlie. Keep being awesome! pic.twitter.com/wE0SAiLh4D
Twitter Mutuals have the ability to become virtual collaborators, IRL Friends, folks to talk to about important parts of your life, buddies to visit while you travel, and more. Not bad for a Bird Website.
Sources, resources, links
My very own twitter thread on this topic
Nick Cammarata doesn’t use his feed
@visakanv on his approach to twitter
A good twitter thread on how not to be creepy online
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