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How I Use Twitter

Over on a I saw jasraj talk about How I’m planning to use twitter (this time around).

– I’ll be linking my Twitter and micro blog accounts
– Once a week, I’ll login and gently respond / interact
How do you currently use Twitter?

jasraj on his blog

Back in 2014 I wrote about my love for muting on Twitter. Talking about how to use something is interesting because social media encourages you to engage with it in a certain way. But it’s up to you if you choose to play by its rules.

I used Twitter mostly as a fancy RSS reader. I’ve long used Tweetdeck on the computer. Twitter forgot about it for the better part of its life after that bought it. This was perfect for my use since they never brought any of the algorithmic timeline nonsense or test features to it. has stayed largely unchanged in the past… decade? And I like it that way. It has remained a reliable place of information gathering and limited sharing that I want it to be.

As of this post, I’ve been on Twitter for 15 years, 3 months, 9 days
(since 15 Nov 2006).

My use pattern has changed a ton since I joined in the dark ages of the platform when you could still text 40404 to tweet. This is how I use the service today.

How I Use Twitter

I use lists. Twitter’s lists are mainly how I use the service and have it suit my needs. This is where Tweetdeck excels. I love it’s multi-column view that I can customize for my needs. Lists are wonderful because you can create public lists that others can follow. Or private lists just for yourself.

When creating public lists, those you add get notified. I’m not sure if that’s the case for private lists. So be mindful if you add your secret crush to a list. It might tip them off.

Tweetdeck, blurred

As it stands today I have columns for:

  • Vital List
  • Home
  • Notifications
  • Destiny List
  • Caps List
  • Notifications – Podcast account

Vital List is my list of people I can’t miss. They have their retweets turned on. They’re people I know in real life and a hand full of people who I really enjoy. There are 17 accounts on this list.

Home is the home timeline. Sorted by time because I use Tweetdeck on computers and Flamingo on Android. Both of which allow for tweets to be shown in the order they were tweeted. I follow 62 people.

There is some overlap between followed and people on the Vital list. Some are on the list but not followed. Some are on both. When I last checked, you can’t turn off retweets for people you put on lists but don’t follow.

Notifications are what they sound like. I like to know about replies or the rare retweet of something I’ve posted. It’s nice to know there’s some people in the void.

Destiny List is people who play the game Destiny 2 which I have a podcast about and is nearly all I play (besides Stardew Valley). This like is primarily Bungies Community Managers, Destiny content creators, other Destiny podcasters I know or other Guardians who play and tweet. This is mainly where I get my Destiny news and consists of 77 accounts.

Caps List is my Washington Capitals news. There are 5 people on this list, including the excellent blog RMNB | Russian Machine Never Breaks. You’d be so lucky to have a fan-run news site about your favorite hockey team.

Notifications for @2titans_hunter are notifications for the podcast account. I share information there about the game and our show and it’s nice to see who follows us or leaves a comment or question to talk about on the show.

I have a few other lists that I refer too more rarely and aren’t immediately visible on the computer or phone app.

I keep a list of official Bungie accounts as I find them. They’re the developers of Destiny 2 (and originally Halo). I keep a DC Metro News list for all of the accounts and people who cover the ongoing mess that DC’s Metro system usually finds itself in.

When I commuted to work in DC, this was a must-have to know if the trains were running and how late I might be to work or getting home. The collection of tweets from other riders was a far more reliable source of information than anything the official system announced, even over their own Twitter account.

I have a list of local accounts for my county. This is my list I use when I’m trying to answer the question “what were all those sirens I just heard go by?” or “why are there suddenly a lot of helicopters in the air?” Being a suburb of Washington DC, you never know what random thing may be occurring.

In writing how I used Twitter, I thought about how I didn’t use Twitter and how I engage with it on my own terms. Tomorrow, I’ll post my rules for engaging with Twitter. How do you use Twitter, or your social medium of choice? What rules do you have in place to keep it enjoyable?

What I Learned From Pro-Gun Twitter

When I wrote about President Obama’s Executive Order about guns I specifically wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind. There’s a reason for this. I am not trying to strip my opponents of their identities. Guns are their identities.

Obama coming for your guns

Jenny Trout posted a single tweet. My child is more important than your gun.

The replies are what you expect. Threats against her. Threats if she tries to come and take their guns. Fear. Yes, she picked the replies but what she posted was indicative of what happens when anyone says something even remotely about guns control online. Remember, this started with her saying my child is more important than your gun. She’s not coming to take them away. It’s not a pro-gun-control message. It’s a mother’s statement that her child is precious.

But she hits upon some truths I think we overlook when trying to have a debate about guns in this country.

The pro-gun right has one weapon, and that is fear. If they can’t make you fear “terrorists”, they’ll try to make you fear “thugs”. If they can’t make you fear “thugs”, they’ll jump to the hypothetical rape of your pretty white daughter. If they can’t make you afraid at all, they’ll become violently afraid of you. Then they’ll kill you, and say it was in self-defense because you tried to take their guns. Self-defense, because their guns are their selves. That’s why they’re panicking; if the government legislates their guns away, they’re legislating these peoples’ identities away.

For a group who uses fear as its main tactic, fear is at the heart of the issue. They see gun control as an attack on their guns which they view as part of their identity. Their guns are their selves. That’s why the government is so scary. It’s threatening to remove part of their identities. How do you even begin a discussion that starts with wanting to remove part of someone’s identity?


Richard makes a great point. We need to deal with The Anger before we deal with The Gun.

The Anger is in all of us. The Anger manifests itself differently in each person, to different degrees. The Anger can be eased, it can be released safely, but it never goes away. You have to be taught how to deal with The Anger, but few people ever learn on their own. Fewer still know how to teach it. Instead, we try to sublimate The Anger, hide it, pretend it doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t go away. Without a way to acknowledge The Anger, to release it in a safe way, The Anger explodes, increasingly in a hail of gunfire.

The Anger feeds on the Fear. The result is a much darker version of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch.

By Oliver Berghold on

I can’t hear you Tweeting

I have Twitter filters. I love my Twitter filters. It makes the service bearable to me. I thought about it this morning when I was reading TweetBot as I waited for the train this morning. TweetBot is where I have most of the filters setup because it’s easy to do.

It’s also where I interact with Twitter most. When I got to work, I booted up my computer and opened TweetDeck, and the noise went to 11. I’ve written about Mute for a happier Twitter before. But on the verge of the Apple Watch event, I’ve added some new filters.

With all the Apple Car (???) talk, someone posted this wonderful filter: (?i)(Apple.*Car)

I added that immediately and all the car talk stopped (for me.) From there, I added Apple Watch because I can’t care about the watch. I don’t want something on my wrist that does anything but tell the time. My watch is e-ink. It tells time. It does nothing else. It’s perfect.

Since I last wrote about this in December, I’ve added a few new filters that makes my life more sane.

  • LRT
    I don’t care about your Last ReTweet (which is what LRT means. It’s ok, I had to ask too.) I turn off Retweets for most people so I don’t need to hear the commentary on the Retweet I didn’t see.
  • Game of Thrones
    First, I muted it because I didn’t care about the show and was tired of hearing people talk about it. Then I watched the entire series in a couple of weeks. So I keep it muted because I still don’t want to hear people talking about it non-stop. I don’t even care about spoilers. I’m just not that interested.

  • Apple Watch
    The same thing goes for the Apple Car. I don’t care about these things. I especially don’t care about them before they’re even released. It’s not a product I care about and the religious fervor around it isn’t interesting to me. So I mute it because I just don’t care.

  • Apple
    Yes, in a fit of frustration and exhaustion I muted the word Apple. So I’m sorry if you’re raving about some delicious honey crisps, or your distaste for Granny Smith. I’m not going to see it. I’ve hit Peak Apple News. And I’m over it. I don’t care about Apple. I don’t care about the company. I don’t care about the products. I don’t care about the executives.

The rest of the things I’ve muted lately are short-term things. Usually it will be something from a TV Show, a conference or something else I either don’t understand or don’t want to see in my stream. I mute them for a week, figuring the conference will be over by then and the TV show meme will have run its course.

If I am going to use Twitter, I am going to use it on my terms. I used to feel guilty about muting people’s Retweets or unfollowing people I wasn’t interested in following anymore. But now no longer worry. I create the Twitter I want to use. And I’m not going to worry about it.

Muting for a happier Twitter

Everyone can talk about what they want, but I don’t have to listen to it. This is true in life and it’s true on Twitter. I interact with the service through Tweetbot on my iPhone and Tweetdeck in Chrome on the desktop (Mac and Windows).

When I’m on my phone, I want to dip my toe into the Tweetstream so I mute what detracts from my experience there.

When I am on a computer, I have more time and attention to pay to Twitter. Due to this, I have very few mute filters in Tweetdeck.

Tweetdeck Mute Filters

In fact, as of today, I only have three things muted.
– Muting “sponsor”
– Muting “clickhole”
– Muting “gamergate”

I don’t remember when I muted clickhole, but it was probably at a time when a lot of people were tweeting them. I tend to mute the Topic of the Day™. Though I mostly do that on Tweetbot.

I muted sponsor because I don’t need to see what you’re sponsoring. I’ll see it on your site, in your RSS feed. I don’t need to see it on Twitter too. And if I miss a tweet with the word sponsor in it, then it’s not a big enough loss to worry about. Life will go on.

Gamergate was the latest addition. I didn’t choose the #gamergate hashtag, nor GG. I chose the word because it got rid of most of the people talking about it endlessly. Yes, it’s my white privilege. Yes, I know I have the power to walk away from it and people are still hurting. But nothing I do will affect that either way, so I filter it out.

But what about Tweetbot?

Tweetbot is where I stick my toe into the ebb and flow of Twitter. I don’t want to engage in everything. I want to see if there’s anything new to read or answer people who’ve replied to me.

I don’t mute any users. None of you have raised that level of ire with me, yet.

There are a few keywords I mute. They do the heavy-lifting in reducing the noise to let the signal come through.

Game of Thrones no more

First, I mute Game of Thrones. I don’t watch the show. I don’t read the books. I don’t care about the series. So I don’t need to see everyone making jokes I don’t understand nor talking about the show.

I would add Doctor Who and Mad Men to this list as well, but those are vague enough terms, I don’t want to block those. And people just don’t talk about them as much.

Last Retweet (that I didn’t see anyway.)

Next, I mute LRT. I recently had to ask what this meant and learned it was Last Retweet. I don’t care to read your explanation about your last retweet.

This is because I’ve turned off retweets for most of the people I follow. There are a few people I care enough about to read everything they share. (You do know you can turn off retweets, right? Click the gear icon on the user’s page on or in Tweetbot, and select Turn off Retweets.

Turning off retweets is the single best thing you can do to quiet noisier users.

This next filter comes from @sweatingcommas. I wanted to know how I could mute the replies in my main stream in Tweetbot.

While I do enjoy the conversations in Twitter when I’m on the desktop, I don’t want to see the replies go back-and-forth forever when I am on the phone.

^@ mutes replies

By muting ^@ it mutes everything starting with @ as the first character of a tweet. This keeps my main stream in Tweetbot to only the top-level tweets. I see my replies in the reply thread and if I want to see who replies to something, then I can swipe to follow the thread.

Muting replies is the second best thing I’ve done to boost signal to noise.

Any clients on the mute list?

Just one. Foursquare earned its place on the mute list years ago. I don’t care where you are or what you’re doing. I use Foursquare/Swarm fairly often but I don’t need to share that with Twitter.


I ignore hashtags for the most part. I will often mute a hashtag for seven days when it’s linked to a TV show. When a TV shows asks people to vote on something, or enter a contest with a hashtag I mute it for a week. By that time, it’s usually gone in a week.

The only temporary mute I have still on my list is #AddFishToSciFi, which has three days left. I don’t need to see 50 tweets about it.

Also on the mute list is:
– #depressingsitcoms
– #eurovision
– #GetGlue
– #OveheardAisha

I can’t even tell you what most of these are, or how long ago they were things. But they annoyed me enough to mute.

Make Twitter What You Want It To Be

I’ve long enjoyed Twitter since it can be whatever you want it to be. I always found it fascinating no two people’s Twitter’s look alike. It can be whatever you want it to be, and with a little work, it’s easy to remove a lot of noise and boost the signal that makes Twitter so valuable.

There are other people doing good work on the Tweetbot muting front.

Other Resources?

An excellent resource is from SilencedBots

It will mute things like jargon, SXSW, Celebrities, Spam, Hot Topics and other things.

It’s also possible to share your Tweetbot filters.

So go forth and make Twitter a better place to be. A happier, more sane place where you enjoy hanging out and not stressing out.

Hat tip to amazing photographer and writer Josh Ginter for the inspiration to write this post.

Dispatch from the Trenches #12

Not the Twitter We Want, but it’s the Twitter we Deserve

As the social survivors of “Web 2.0” gorge themselves on gifted youth they start to move further away from being things people enjoy. They become business-degree-managed sameness.

Sit back, grab your icy beverage and get comfortable. Joe makes a lot of really great points here in his dissertation on Twitter. I appreciate his dive into the world of Tent/Cupcake as well. I played with Tent a bit and realized I do not possess a Linux Beard.

Love, Grampa and Grandmaster Flash

Facebook loves to be helpful. It will auto-complete anyone you tag. Anyone. This has led to some hilarious mistaggings of Grandma to Grandmaster Flash turning the rapper into possibly the most caring, lovable rapper of all time.

Grandmaster Flash 1

Grandmaster Flash 2

Brown M&Ms

The story of Van Halen’s Brown M&M line in the contract rider was not a sign of rock star excess. The Brown M&Ms were there as a quick way to check if the promoter had read the contract rider.

It’s an interesting story because it’s legend has grown for so long and made sense in the context of huge rock stars touring the country. It was a brilliant move to combat unsafe conditions and as an early warning that the setup of the shows would take much longer and cost more.

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