My Twitter Rules

I recently saw a Tweet by a runner called Peter Sagal who outlined his “Rules of Twitter”.

In response to narrowly spread demand, here are my Rules of Twitter. Note that each was learned by violating it repeatedly over the years, so don’t bother going back in my feed to find contradictions… trust me, I know.

Peter Sagal

I love his rules:

  1. You will and have regretted many tweets. You will never regret not tweeting.
  2. Is it intended to delight, inform or amuse? Then go ahead. If not, don’t.
  3. Never argue with anybody about anything. Really.
  4. …..except pizza, whether hot dogs are sandwiches, and old movies/TV shows.
  5. Don’t say anything about a piece of current art/writing/culture you wouldn’t say to the face of the person who created it.
  6. Never promote any info or news unless it comes from a trust to tell you which door the tiger is behind. source you would
  7. The only useful purpose of having a bigger platform a than other people is to use it to benefit those other people, so boost and recommend widely.
  8. Resist the common urge to engage with the one critic rather than the many fans.
  9. Never, ever insult anyone personally. Mockery is fine, as long as it aimed upwards.
  10. To survive on the veldt, humans evolved to crave sugars and fats and to get energized by anger and fear. We don’t live on the veldt anymore. Refrain from feeding obsolete hungers.

And I know that I have some unwritten rules of my own.

I’ve had enough bad interactions on social media (and really, I acknowledge my privilege and it’s not very many at all, but it’s enough) to have learned some lessons. And I’ve spent enough time scrolling and curating my feed into a happy and useful place that I think there’s some wisdom here. So here’s how I use Twitter.

  1. Disable trends. Focus on your own timeline. Don’t get distracted by the algorithm. I use Tweetbot and Better Twitter.
  2. Learn when something is a fact and when something is an opinion. Always ask if you can put “IMO…” or “I think that…” in front of your “fact”. There’s a world of difference between “Avocados are horrid” and “I think that Avocados are horrid”.
  3. Related: Not everyone’s brain thinks the same way. Your shitpost might be insulting to someone that doesn’t – or just plain isn’t able to – get it. Kindness always wins.
  4. Following is not a two-way thing. I don’t have to follow back. I don’t have to follow you at all. I reserve the right to unfollow at any point.
  5. Mute judiciously: Learn to recognise when a topic is causing anxiety or anger and eliminate it. Mute people. Mute keywords. You won’t miss those Tweets. I honestly look at my mute list and think “Oh, I don’t read Tweets with that in? Ah well. ?‍♂️”
  6. Never argue with anybody about anything. Really.
  7. If you must engage with something controversial, asking questions is always better than stating opinions. “Why do you think that?” is a great start. But mostly, never argue with anybody.
  8. Not Tweeting about a topic doesn’t say anything about my opinion on that topic.
  9. Avoid topics that can’t be effectively discussed in Tweets. Recognise when something has nuance and either don’t mention it, or find a better way to discuss it.
  10. Researching before retweeting. Even if you agree with or like a message, make sure it’s correct before sharing it.
  11. Say nice things. Share what your friends make and do. Kindness is free. You have an unlimited reserve of it if you look inside of you.