@C70’s recent post about the best Cardinals-centric accounts on Twitter places focus on those who excel and stand out from the crowd as a result. Bravo. It’s a wonderfully altruistic effort to acknowledge and reward the people behind those accounts with a bit of recognition bestowed upon them by a jury of their peers. Congratulations to those who make the podium.
In the interest of something approximating full disclosure, I didn’t vote because I figured there was a non-zero chance I would get Rickrolled by clicking the link. Can you ever completely trust someone who appreciates and enjoys ALL of the Star Wars prequels, sequels, and quels (not actually a word)? Probably not.
Questionable URL’s aside, Daniel’s post sent my thought process flailing down the rabbit hole of introspection. What makes for a good Twitter account? Better yet, what makes for a bad one? How do I determine which ones to follow?
The distinction is important. There is no herd immunity to protect us from bad Twitter. There is no line of demarcation or scarlet letter. Those who fail miserably at Twittering are usually afforded the luxury of trudging through a pool of their own ignorance fully concealed by the cloak of anonymity. Unfortunately, some exceptions slip through the cracks and weasel their way into our timelines.
I’m not going to name handles or anything here – not because I don’t have accounts in mind but because bullying is bad. Instead, I’m going to share my approach to Twitter follows which identifies what I consider unworthy Twitter accounts as a byproduct of the process. It’s probably a bit reductive to think of the process as the non-scientific application of a series of qualitative litmus tests, but I’m fine with oversimplification. Smaller words = more better.
After over a decade on Twitter, I’ve learned that the quality of my user experience is greatly a function of how much effort I put into crafting a curated, vetted timeline. Since the timeline is mostly the product of accounts followed, I put a modicum of consideration into deciding whether or not to hit the “follow” button.
Does the account promote racism, sexism, or any other of the bad -isms? A “yes’ here is an automatic “no” from me. Duh. Intolerance and toxicity are significant contributors to global warming and have been proven to cause erectile dysfunction in laboratory turtles.
Does the account seem likely to add something meaningful or useful to my timeline? I’m looking for timely information, unique sources of data, humor, originality, banter, balance, relevant facts, good memes, detectable levels of human intelligence, and an occasional picture of a panda eating bamboo.
Is the account largely/completely anonymous or a fan account? I have zero interest in accounts that attract followers simply by pandering with low-hanging fruit tweets. If it doesn’t seem obvious that the account is attached to an actual, identifiable person, then no thanks. I respect the desire to remain anonymous, but I’m going to protect myself against aliens posing as people in order to learn from our tweets. I also have zero interest in supporting accounts that scrape content and post without attribution.
Is the account volume following in order to build an impressive ratio only to unfollow after a short period? If you want a lot of followers, use a generic profile pic of an attractive person, tweet a few words of wisdom, and then follow thousands of people. Wait for even a fraction of those people to follow you back, and then unfollow almost everyone.
Is this a brand account? I follow Tag Heuer because I appreciate their timepieces. I don’t follow the Cardinals because dozens of people retweet every single one of their tweets into my timeline. If the account brings something good to the engagement table, then I’m in. If it’s not very interesting to me then I’ll pass.
Is the account likely run by someone interested in attention-seeking in an effort to be social media famous or for the purpose of farming compliments? No thanks. Attention-seeking isn’t the issue. It’s about how someone goes about it. If their best lead is to copy/paste their Tinder bio, then I’ll swipe left, thanks.
Does the account tweet frequently about politics? If I want hot political takes accompanied by satirical memes, I’ll go to Facebook. My lack of interest in left/right/moderate political views does not belie disinterest in politics….wait, no. It actually does.
Does the account spew the same crap that I spew, or does it spew crap I don’t agree with? I enjoy interacting with like-minded people, but reinforcing what I think doesn’t usually do much to open my mind or enlighten me. Those things usually come from people with slightly different or even completely opposing views.
There are other tests. It’s a lot of effort and takes several seconds of clicking and reading. It’s not for everyone. Maybe it’s not for anyone else. It’s just how I do things. Just know that if I follow you it’s because you actually have passed inspection at one time or another. If I don’t follow you it’s likely that our paths simply haven’t crossed.
When I finally build up the nerve to click Daniel’s link, I’ll probably find some accounts that I follow and a lot that are unfamiliar to me. I’m going to try following every one that I can regardless of whether they make the podium or not. Just making the list is an accomplishment of sorts. It means that someone finds you interesting and has effectively endorsed or recommended you.
Good follows are hard to find, and out of the 100+ accounts on the ballot there almost has to be one or two worth checking out. I’m calling this the #BottomCardsOnTwitter challenge because it’s dumb and there is no baseball on tonight so I’m amusing myself by blogging instead of doing a budget summary.