Yesterday, I wrote about How I Use Twitter. In writing how I use it, I started thinking about how I don’t use it. Social media encourages you to engage on its terms. I don’t believe in that. So here’s how I engage with Twitter.

I’ve been on Twitter a long time. I created my account on since Nov 15, 2006. This leads into my most important rule for Twitter.

Delete old tweets

I use Forget to automatically delete anything older than my last 100 or so tweets. No one should have 15 years of their own immaturity online. There’s no value in having anything that popped into my head or any reply I’ve made to someone over the last decade and a half online.

I could not agree more with this sentiment.

It’s important to remember, selfishly, it’s my twitter. With some ground rules and discipline to go with, I’m reckoning I can use it in a way that feels less frazzling, and more nourishing. – jasraj

I use Twitter how I want to use it and one of the reasons I’ve stayed as long as I have is because I can use it in through third party apps and Tweetdeck. If I had to use the official client or, I would have left years ago after one set of annoyances or another.

How I don’t use Twitter

Don’t use or the Official Twitter Client™
I don’t want Twitter deciding what order I should see tweets or who I should see them from. I’ve already done the work to curate my lists and who I follow. I don’t need a computer guessing at what I would like. I’ve always used Tweetdeck on the computer because Twitter never felt the need to mess with it. On the phone/tablet I use third party apps. On Android I use Flamingo, which due to Twitter’s stupid practices is no longer available to download. I previously used Talon though haven’t in some years so can’t vouch for its current state.

Don’t recommend me anything. Ever.
I am not interested in recommendations. Whether it be people to follow or Lists I may enjoy. I ignore all of them. The metrics they’re using to offer things to me are poorly tuned and will often include topics or people I not only have no interest in, but are actively opposed to. I am here to curate my Twitter experience for me.

Turn off Retweets
I’m sure you have good things to share, but when I scroll my feed and it’s full of things other people I’m not following have said, it defeats the purpose for me. If you add a comment, then I see that along with your retweet. But if you press the button, I don’t see it.

I mute people/apps/hashtags
I mute what annoys me. Wordle has escaped the mute because they’re pleasant and not overwhelming. But through the years when popular “tweet this” buttons were in popular games, those were quickly muted. The same goes for conference attendees or large (usually tech) events. I mute the hashtag because I prefer to get my news through sentences, not tweets. If there’s an option to mute something for a set time (a day, week, month) I will do that versus obliterating it from my life forever. But if it’s all or nothing, then I vote nothing.

When I follow, it’s on a trial basis
I test follow a lot of people. I try them out for a bit. But many times I don’t stay. They’re too noisy and take over my entire feed. Or I followed them for one thing and it turns out it was an outlier from what they normally talk about. Sometimes their whole timeline is retweets so I don’t see anything from them for weeks and wonder why I followed them at all.

I don’t follow back
I owe you nothing. You owe me nothing. If you’re interesting I’ll follow you. If not, then I won’t. More often, I will check my new followers for two things. Are they a bot? Do they have a blog? If you have a blog, I’ll check it out and if it’s interesting, I’ll add it to my RSS readers. I like following people’s longer form thoughts far more than their 280 character hot takes.

Bots get blocked & reported
That’s the other thing I check for. If the account looks suspicious. I look at their follower/following numbers. I see what they post, if anything. And if they look like a bot, I block and report.

Lists are vital
I use Twitter mainly through lists. As a fan of Destiny 2 and the Washington Capitals, I prefer to see all of my news about them in one place. Not mixed with everyone else I follow. It’s also a great way to keep up with your A-List Can’t Miss people on Twitter. It’s easy to get lost in the torrent.

These are my rules for engaging with Twitter and keeping it enjoyable for me. How do you use Twitter? Do you use Twitter? What are your rules of engagement for social media to keep it on your terms?