Zen And The Art Of Twitter

In a popular post I wrote that proposed 40 tips for Twitter users, a recurring theme was the importance of finding your equilibrium point on Twitter.

The key part of this concept is that it must be your equilibrium. It can’t be somebody else’s. Twitter simply doesn’t work if you copy and paste from the norms, behaviours and timelines of others. It’s your experience. Your standards. Your Twitter.

But to do this, you have to find your centre, that point in the middle where you’re comfortable. And it isn’t the type of comfort that makes you lazy and complacent. It’s the kind that provides you with a level of confidence in yourself, in the Twitter platform, and your part therein, to go on and do great things.

As I said, middle doesn’t mean boring. It means balance.

What kind of balance am I talking about? Essentially, it’s more about things that you don’t need or have to do. Twitter doesn’t come with any obligation or ‘musts’. For example:

  1. You don’t have to tweet every little thing, every minute, of every day. Less is more.
  2. You don’t have to follow everybody on Twitter. Just follow the right people. And right, as always, means right for you. Lots of the newspapers, feeds, commentators and pundits share variations of the exact same content – usually the only difference is the editorial, which is a very personal preference and that’s where you should align yourself.
  3. You don’t have to follow everybody back. Only follow the people who enrich and improve your Twitter stream and experience. Just because somebody gets a kick out of you doesn’t mean you’re going to get a kick out of them.
  4. You don’t have to read every tweet. It’s not a sin. You have our permission. Not only is it impossible, it’s often redundant (for the reasons above) and essentially pointless.
  5. You don’t need dozens of lists. Is your Twitter network so big that you had to create lots and lots of lists and columns to be able to keep track of everybody? This isn’t balance – it’s madness. Lists are great, but you shouldn’t need more than a couple. Max.
  6. You don’t owe anybody anything. All those people who didn’t make the cut and weren’t added to any of your special lists? Cut them loose. If they aren’t worthy of careful attention, why are you following them at all? Same goes for friends and family. If they’re just paying lip service to Twitter, wave goodbye. You’re under no obligation to follow your mother.
  7. You don’t have to retweet. Ask yourself, and be honest: is this retweetable? Is it something my followers will find valuable? Or funny? Or inspiring? This is especially true if somebody asks you to retweet something. Be polite, but be firm – and refuse.
  8. You don’t have to be on Twitter 24/7. Again, less is more. People tend to do their best thinking and come up with the greatest ideas when they’re doing something else. Go out for a run, see a movie or read a book. Just don’t tweet about it while you’re doing it.
  9. You don’t have to go with the flow. Just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t make it right, or especially right for you. Have the guts to be yourself.
  10. You don’t have to do anything. And that includes listening to anything I’ve said in this article. If what you’re doing is working for you, then it works. End of.

Again, it’s your Twitter. Your timeline and interactions are unique to you, and any attempt to mirror the experiences and feel of another person, or group, especially if they’re imposed, will inevitably lead to a hollow, superficial environment. Make Twitter your own, ride the biting point between want and need, and find that balance.

(Bird image via Shutterstock.)