Let's try an experiment. I'll say "Twitter," and you'll say the first thing that comes to your mind. Wait. I didn't say it yet. First, find a picture of a 100-year-old man holding a condom. Got it? Cool. OK: "Twitter!" Was the first thing you thought "useless"? Yes? Cool, although I guess for a lot of you I could have gotten the same result without the pic, huh?
"Yeah, but I need the work."
Well, there's no denying that lots and lots of people hate Twitter and find it useless. That's because they're probably following their aunts and co-workers, who tweet things like "Going bungee jumping for the first time tomorrow #YOLO!!!" And in truth, I used to hate Twitter, too, until I decided to only follow people who made me laugh. It turns out that's a lot of people. Even more shocking, Twitter has served as a launching pad for lots of young comedy writers. As hard as it is to believe, people land comedy writing jobs and even book deals based on successful Twitter accounts. Accordingly, Twitter might be a silly time-sucking app, but for many, it's serious business, demanding proper etiquette.
There's no book you can buy on it. You learn it by being a terrible Twitter person like me, who has obnoxious private message conversations about tweeters you dislike while whining about other tweeters who hate you. DON'T BE LIKE ME. SAVE YOURSELF. For any bright-eyed newbie to the site, let me give you some tips on certain faux pas you can avoid so the Twitter professionals won't mock you. (FYI: No one designates themselves a "Twitter professional." That's too chilly for even Twitter people to say aloud.) Here are five things to avoid if you don't want to piss off people who take Twitter seriously.
#5. Manual Retweets
There are two ways a tweeter feels love. One is getting a "star," or a "fav," and the other is a prolonged prostate massage. Wait. Lost myself for a second. The other is a retweet. Let's break that down a little further:
Stars are just like grade school when your teacher would put them on your paper. (Or more likely not put them on your paper, if you were the kind of kid who was gonna grow up worrying about Twitter.) Stars don't do a lot for you. It's just like a Facebook "like" or, I dunno, a real person actually saying "good job" to you.
Does that still happen in the real world?
Anyway, retweets are more special. When someone who follows you retweets you, that means they're taking your tweet and showing it to all of their followers. That's good, because that's how you get new followers, and everyone knows that the number of followers you have is directly linked to your worth as a human being. But some people want to retweet but don't retweet. Instead they copy your tweet over with quotation marks and include your name. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA. No one does. It's a mystery. It's particularly bizarre when they have to abbreviate the living hell out of your tweet to make it still fit by also including your name. For example, that's what happened to my pal, OhNoSheTwitnt:
Still a nice gesture, but why?
In any event, if you like a tweet and want people to see it, just use the RT button.
#4. Overreacting to Non-Plagiarism
Twitter has a real plagiarism problem. There have been people (who I will in no way publicize by speaking directly of) who have actually amassed a large number of followers by simply stealing funny tweets from others. Again, it's a mystery. Who would hate themselves so much that they would want to be told they're funny for someone else's jokes? I don't know, but it happens, and it is genuinely annoying, even if the theft isn't as important as someone stealing a song or screenplay. And people on Twitter take such theft very seriously, too. Twitter even has an entire policy and process for dealing with the problem.
But as legitimate of a problem as plagiarism is, that's not what this entry is about.
Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images
"Well, thanks for making me read a paragraph for nothing, jackass."
The sign of a bush-league tweeter is when someone overreacts to a similar but non-plagiarized tweet. Similar tweets happen all the time, especially on Twitter, where many of the jokes are born from that day's current events reporting. Similar jokes also happen because people play hashtag games. Do you know what that is? No? Really? Who's the old man here? Anyway, hashtags are just premises for jokes. They do them a lot on the @midnight show/feed. One was #SadToys. I tweeted "Hungry Hungry Orphans." Thank you. I liked it, too. Anyway, I wasn't the only one who tweeted that. It popped up again after mine, but that wasn't plagiarism, just coincidence, and people who cry "plagiarism" over small stuff like that make themselves look pretty silly. Especially when it comes to topical events. And puns. It happens, and most of the time you shouldn't assume the worst for things like that. Or you could do this:
At this point, I should probably thank OhNoSheTwitnt for assisting with article research, huh?
#3. Using Long-Dead Joke Constructions
No one tells Polish jokes anymore. No one tells dead baby jokes. No one tells what's-grosser-than-gross jokes anymore. Those were all staples of my youth (I was raised in a fake doggy doo manufacturing plant). But jokes, much like the brown liquid rubber that is molded into novelty poo, get old eventually. On Twitter, jokes get old even faster. There are so many things that people thought were funny for a few months that no one ever wants to see again. My goal is not to humiliate anyone or even criticize any specific tweeter with a screencap, because we all jump on the bandwagon of a new joke construction before we drive it into the ground. But I want to explain what I'm talking about, so I typed "Twitter" and the joke construction into Google and am posting an entry from the first page of results in each category with no judgments made:
Just an FYI to those new to Twitter trying to impress your friends: No one wants to see tweets like this anymore, as one of my favorite tweeters has pointed out. They were cool for a time, but that time is gone. Don't worry. There's always new constructions to use for your Mad Libs approach to humor, and some of them might end up being hilarious. But not these, now. Please. You might as well go up to co-workers and do a Borat impression. (Again, not tooling on anyone above, and especially not Tony, who was way ahead of the curve and who got plagiarized mercilessly with that Mexican Candy tweet.)