No One is Holding Your Face in the Twitter Stream

I’ve been noticing a trend on Twitter in the past few months that baffles me.

It involves people bitching and whining about things they’re reading on Twitter.

It involves people demanding that other people change the way they use Twitter.

It involves people asking that other people change the topics they care about and the things they care to share.

And I think it’s a load of bull.

You’re Doing It Wrong

If your social networking experience isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.

Mike Shea (geek famous for, wrote an excellent post about this phenomenon in his personal blog, entitled You Are Responsible.  He summarizes the post like this:

Ultimately, each of us is responsible for dealing with the situations in which we find ourselves. We have a lot more control over our lives than we think. It’s easy to assign responsibility for our problems to the rest of the world. We hate how people write email. We hate how they tweet. We hate that our boss is a micromanager. We hate that we don’t have a single evening to ourselves when we have a family of six. It seems like these are external forces but the responsibility for dealing with them is completely up to us. It’s our problem, not theirs. Analyzing our problems ultimately comes down to a single question:

What are you going to do about it?

If you’re not enjoying Twitter, then YOU are the one responsible for doing something about it. And whining and complaining… that’s not doing anything about it.

Unfollow, Already!

There was a certain person that I followed back in the early days of my Twitter account. I won’t specify whether they were a dating-related person or a geek-related person to protect their privacy.

At first, this person was pleasant to follow. But as the months wore on, I got tired of watching them argue with other people I followed. So I unfollowed them.

A few days later, they popped up in my Mentions. “Hey!” they said. “I was trying to DM you. You unfollowed me! I’m so hurt!” (Not exact words, but the sentiment.)  Feeling conflict-avoidant, I mumbled something about accidentally unfollowing them while tidying up my stream. I re-followed. They DMed me instantly with some “juicy” gossip, which reinforced why I unfollowed in the first place.

A week passed and I was again becoming more and more irritated about the arguments this person was instigating with other people I followed. So I unfollowed again. I was pestered again.

Lather, rinse, repeat until FINALLY this person and I ended up in a fight because I was tired of watching them abuse another person I followed. This person was standing up for their own interests just fine and didn’t *need* me to jump in, but I was so irritated that I blew up. The anger ruined my day. I unfollowed for the final time.

Moral of the Story: If I had stuck to my guns and told the person the first time that I could not follow them because of the way they treated other people I followed, I would have saved myself all that frustration. My social networking experience would have been more fun.

What Paul & Storm Taught Me About Global Filter

I love Paul & Storm. For those who are like, “Who?” allow me to introduce you. Paul & Storm are a geek music phenomenon. I was first introduced to them as the opening act for my other favorite geek musician, Jonathan Coulton.  They’re hard to describe, so I’ll let their music speak for them. Click here and listen to Opening Band, The Captain’s Wife’s Lament, Frogger: The Frogger Musical, and Nun Fight.  These are my favorites, but I’m sure you’ll discover some of your own.

Back to my soapbox!

Paul & Storm have a Twitter account, which I follow because they are goddamn hilarious. However, they have a tendency to start hashtag memes on a near daily basis. Sometimes, I love the hashtag memes and ROFL in my cubicle as I read them. Other times, they irk me and I want nothing more than for them to GO AWAY.



I go into Tweetdeck’s Global Filter, and I add the hashtag to the list. Suddenly, my stream is completely free of the meme and I can go on with my day, blissfully unawares.

This method also works great if you’re totally over hearing about a certain subject that’s trending in your stream. Say…. oh, dickwolves.

Moral of the Story: Unless you’re the type of person who enjoys being riled up and annoyed, there’s no reason to get that way. Use your global filters (and if you don’t use a service that allows it, get one). Your social networking experience will be more fun.

Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run

Sometimes you’re having a Very Bad Day.

Sometimes your normally awesome friends are having a Very Bad Day.

If this happens, you can close your Twitter app.

No one is going to unfollow you for missing a day of tweeting. You’re not going to lose hundreds of dollars of income from your small business.  In fact, your absence will mostly go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things.

What will get noticed is if you blow up and throw a hissy fit because you’re having a horrible day. Remember Thumper’s mom from Bambi? “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.”  Grammatically incorrect, yes. But the sentiment is right on.

Moral of the Story: Stepping away from Twitter for a day is sometimes the best option for days when social media frustrates you. Yes, you’ll miss it, but in the end, you’ll have prevented yourself from anger, frustration, and possibly losing the respect of your followers. In the end, your social networking experience will be more fun.

Before You Comment…

I’m not saying that the best way to deal with offensive people is to ignore them.

By all means, if something bothers you, you have the right to speak up and let the offending person know that they are being offensive. If there’s someone being sexist/racist/____-ist in your stream, let them know that you are unfollowing them because of their ____-ist tweets.

I am saying that you shouldn’t keep obnoxious people in your stream.

After you’ve let them know why you’re unfollowing, drop the topic. Block the person.

You know why? Because you are not going to be able to change their worldview in 140 characters. If more of their followers tweet them with the same unfollowing message, maybe then they’ll think about it. But save yourself the arguing. Save yourself the headaches. Send your one tweet, block, and move on.

How Awesome is Your Stream?

Is your Twitter stream full of people who make you laugh?

Is your Twitter stream full of people who share awesome stories?

Is your Twitter stream full of the breaking news that is relevant to your interests?

If it isn’t, then you’re doing it wrong. And you have the power to fix it. Your Twitter stream should be a float down the Lazy River, not a swirly in a middle school toilet bowl. Freshen up your stream today and we’ll all benefit from a brighter, happier you.


About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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