I reckon that makes me an expert on Twitter the same wayMatt Yglesias is an expert because he knows Ezra Klein.
So, as a five year Twitter veteran with literally dozens of real followers, I am assembling a guide to help you navigate and thrive in this social media jungle.
Rule One – Decide Why You Are Here
Ask yourself if you are here for; the fun hashtag games, political or social current events, interacting with celebrities and talking heads, making friends or the knock-down, drag-out fights.
All of the choices are valid. But let’s face it; you probably are on Twitter to argue – even if just a little bit. In a previous generation, we used to shout impotently at the television. Peter Jennings could matter-of-factly sell you a liberal perspective with gravitas and we couldn’t do a damned thing about it. But thanks to the miracle of the Internet we can now shout impotently at his professional heirs. If you’re lucky, you can get a response or a highly coveted block.
This guide will give you valuable pointers for the various interactions you may face and the best responses. But before you don your battle gear, you need to prepare.
Rule Two – Be Up on the Lingo
Thanks to the Internet, catchphrases change hourly. If you’re like me, you still think “bitchin’” is an apt description of your favorite hard rock band. You probably also think that last week’s catchphrase is still useful.
For example, when the idiot writer for Engadget says something really stupid, you can no longer say he self “Pwnd”, that’s so 2007. Nope, you must say he “corncobbed” himself.
I recommend checking Urban Dictionary and following your high school or college-age child on social media. If you don’t have a child in that age range, watch Adult Swim and YouTube videos. You’ll be lit af, homeboy!
Rule 3 – Know Your Opponent
The spectrum of interactions ranges from the powerful elite to the barely literate guy Tweeting from the public library with very colorful gradations in between. Some examples are below.
The “Egg” Account
These are accounts which have no avi. They used to default to an egg (Twitter, bird, egg, get it?). For some reason, it’s now an amprphous head in a greyish circle. The important takeaway is that this user doesn’t care enough or is unable to go through account setup. Generally not even worth responding to.
Only slightly above the Egg account in the Twittersphere, this person could only be on Twitter through a Friends and Family plan. Although it’s likely a child, there is a possibility that this person is under State mandated supervision.
The “Just read my first Howard Zinn/Andrea Dworkin and ready to fight!”
More immersed in their sacred texts and devout than Dominican monks, these Tweeters espouse wordy and complex thoughts which always boil down to “I am a victim” or “white people suck”. The fields of critical theory churn out a veritable army who range between college freshmen and college professor. Every thread produced is a veritable doctoral thesis which manages to say nothing original while sounding profound.
On the bright side, they gleefully eat their own at the first sign of deviation from the dogma.
The “How do you have a blue checkmark?”
This guy appears to have loose circuitry and at best mild comprehension problems. Twitter verification is supposed to confer some sort of legitimacy. In reality, it’s a Cracker Jack prize further devalued when Twitter made it available to anyone with a pulse and a left-wing view.
The Woke Celebrity
This is a broad category that encompasses that guy you might remember from season six of “24” to the currently popular activist actor who just can’t get past that Trump won. There’s no shortage of wisdom from incredibly rich people who live in an echo chamber isolated from concerns like mortgages and the price of gas.
The “the truth has a liberal bias” journalist
In bygone times, there was a veneer of objectivity. At some point, newspaper publishers and networks let their journalists share their thoughts on social media. And even as the cat was out of the bag, they look you in the eye and tell you there’s no cat and no bag.
So these are "The Basics". If you are new, print and keep them handy. If you are and "old hand" we are sure you snorted in laughter at least once. Stay tuned for "Twitter - Advanced Skills".