Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Be a Dill Hole on Twitter



Don’t be misled by my use of the word “dill hole” because this post is going to get progressively less PG.

To be fair, he caught me at a bad time. Actually, it was a good time for me, the distraction and all. You can tell what kind of mood I’m in by the way that I actually respond to the trolls. Usually, I find that engaging is rarely beneficial. But then, every once in a while, I want to get in a fight. Rarely do people bite.

Self-promoting is important, necessary, but risky. No matter how polite you are, someone still will get pissed. Often it has little to do with you; you caught them at the wrong time. This doesn’t mean not to do it. It just means to not be surprised, not to get upset when it happens. The worst thing you can do is to argue about it.

There are different ways to tackle self-promotion, and this is not one of them.

I used to follow everyone back who followed me. It was easy, helped me maintain my numbers, and kept people from getting annoyed. I too spent some time accumulating any accounts that wanted to follow me, even though they had nothing to say and obviously weren’t interested in me. At that point it was very much a number’s game. And I don’t criticize this tactic or regret it. But things changed.

Now that I have a huge amount of followers, it isn’t so much about the reach as it is about the interest. Having writers or readers who will read my blogs, comment on my Tweets, purchase my short stories is the primary purpose of my Twitter account. I don’t need any more fake ones to simply make me look good; I need people with actual interest.

Do you know what the best way to receive an actual fan base than a bunch of faceless numbers? Interaction. Targeting your audience. Following only the people who matter, not the robots from Afghanistan. Not only does having real conversation lead to more hits and purchases, more long term fans who maintain interest—it’s also a good way to pass the time. Twitter feeds can be interesting if you treat them right. I know, shocker.

When I followed everyone, my page was filled with spam and porn and Arabic. As I began to weed them out, I’ve begun to get more use from my feed and be able to read interesting content and sincerely comment, favorite, and retweet. It helps me develop actual relationships in the easiest way possible.

So, today, I mostly only follow writers. I don’t go through my who’s following me anymore, although I will sometimes follow people who favorite, comment, or retweet. If you are an author who’s following me and would like a follow back, I’d be more than willing, but send me a direct message.

But, in this message, be sure to ask.

A few days ago a specifically unpersonal page messaged me, “hey no follow back?” I found myself highly irritated.

Granted, if I wasn’t stressed, I would have just ignored it. I wouldn’t have followed him under any circumstances; it was the sort of Twitter account that had every single aspect that says “Spam” to me.

It was a “company” (and I use that term loosely) that specializes in… I don’t know. Uploading videos onto their page. The photograph was not a person. The bio read like an ad, and the page was filled with retweets and self-promotional links. “Get a FREE channel today!”

I get messages like these all of the time. Usually they don’t piss me off nearly as bad. There was that one time, but for the most part, I’ll actually do what they ask. We all know that that is the main reason people follow you—for reciprocation. I’ve done it, I think it is a valid tactic, and I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it. It’s just, in most circumstances, people don’t act like you’re obligated to. “I’m following you! Would you follow me back?”

This implies an option, while the first acts indignant about no reciprocation.

It’s like bringing me a cake I didn’t ask for, then saying, “Twenty bucks,” and getting righteous when I refuse.

Instead of just going on with my day, I decided to respond and tell him exactly why I wasn’t following him. I guess it had something to do with his shock that I wasn’t just automatically reciprocating. Don't I know the rules? I didn’t say, “Because it’s a spammy ass page,” but that I don’t follow pages filled with retweets. (Mainly, uninteresting and unrelated retweets.)

To which he responded that maybe I should rethink my strategy and stop trying to be so PC.

PC? I’m sorry, but if I was concerned with being Poltically Correct, I wouldn’t be calling you an asshat right now. Believe me, my refusal to follow your page has nothing to do with maintaining my image or reducing prejudice. This is just about you, me, and how much I want there to be nothing more between us.

As for rethinking my strategy… I think that there is only one way to put this: “WHAT THE FUCK FOR?”

(Yes, in context I just asked him, "Why?" but it doesn’t really do it justice.)

Understand that I have literally 20 times the followers you do. Understand that my goals are very different than yours. Take those two things into consideration and realize that my strategy is effective according to your standards of success, (i.e. a number’s game), and yet still is oriented around my priorities.

What is the benefit to changing it? Sure, I’d love a huge number of followers, even the occasional fake kinds if I don't  have to do anything for them, but my main goal is to have long-term readers, and to have a feed not filled with spammy crap. Neither of those things are achieved by following you.

He tells me that it will open me up to new and exciting things.

No, it will open me up to you promoting your website that does nothing for me. It will open me up to the promotion of every single person you retweet. Having a feed filled with crap doesn’t do anything except make me avoid it, which does you no favors. And I am certainly not going directly to your page to read the advertisements you consider Tweets, so really, me following you is the same as having a fake account following you. I'm am not much good to you.

I know you don’t consider your page spam. It’s a project you are personally close to, you’re not a robot, and you truly do care about it. But when you blitz your page with links to your site, completely lack interesting content, and retweet random, unrelated posts, you are spam. And you should not be surprised or upset when someone doesn’t want to follow you.

He sends me a stream of messages, growing more and more distressed as he goes. When I return home from work, he, in response I assume to my lack of response, says, “no problem… do you want me to unfollow you then?”

Yes. Yes, I do. Which is exactly what you should have done in the first place instead of telling me I should have followed you back. It would have avoided this whole argument, and you wouldn’t have gotten your feelings hurt.

Luckily for him I had already gone through all of the different bitchy things I could have said, making it a much more water downed version. “I wouldn’t notice. Which is why you should have done that in the first place.”

Really, I didn’t mean this to sound so hostile, but as honest piece of advice. I think it’s your prerogative to unfollow people that don’t follow you back. Kind of irritating, but still your right, (I've done it) and the better way to handle when someone doesn’t want to reciprocate. People won’t notice as much, and they won’t be as pissed as when you guilt them for not doing it.

If you want to self-promote, realize that not everyone is obligated to listen to you. Make it interesting for them, or realize that they are doing you a favor. Mostly, learn to take no for an answer, write it off as inevitable, and move on. Don’t yell at them because you don't agree.

The worst thing about solicitation—anywhere from “Buy my book,” to “Do you like anal?”—is less about the solicitation itself, but the need to be polite in return. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, nor do I really want to hurt the feelings of the guy who asks me to fly down to South America and sleep on his couch. Even though he wasn’t taking my desires into consideration, I felt the need to take his. That frustration leads to the anger that compounds the conflict, even though it wasn’t a big deal in the first place. Sometimes the issue is you don’t feel like you can say no, which is why “hey no follow back?” ticked me off so bad.

He had this expectation for me to reciprocate his follow, and when I wasn’t interested, refused to be understanding.

Does he think he was being rude? I severely doubt he realized that’s how I would take it, especially as he wrote it. Yet, I do feel that he should have been able to recognize my perspective once I revealed that I felt no obligation to him. Instead, when I gave him my reasons, he argued with me about them, told me they don’t really matter. Then he proceeded with the insults, calling me mean spirited, that I needed to get a life. That I should change my profile to “Twitter Police,” and that my rules were closed minded. Keep in mind that I did not respond to the majority of these Tweets, the closest thing I said to an insult being that it was his "indignant attitude" that made me be "so mean."

Of course his accusations annoyed me. In an attempt to maintain my own personal territory the way I like it, I was getting accused of “policing him.” He acted like I was trying to pressure him into doing something, when I just wanted to control myself and my space. And yes, I do see some hypocrisy in him telling me to get a life when really he should have long ago accepted his losses and not gotten into an argument with someone who obviously was never going to give him what he wanted, but hell bent on fighting. You have better things to do then feed the trolls.

And, really, nothing he did convinced me I would have benefited from following him. I’m sure he’s a good person, but he acted entitled, seemed to lack empathy, and responded childishly. Not a single part of that makes me want to stay in communication with him.

Yet, in a strange way, the distraction of this spat relieved me, and I found myself feeling actually better than I had before. Instead of being fused with rage as he Tweeted a series of insults at me, I had a sense of catharsis. I told him the truth. I was sorry that I hurt his feelings. I didn’t want his Tweets in my feed, but I am just one person. It’s not the end of the world.

He deleted his Tweets, unfollowed me, and I suppose that’s the end of it.

It’s easy to be a dill hole on Twitter because text always sounds angrier, ruder, than they are intended. You never know what the mood the other person is in—when they’ll read it, what their facial expressions or body language will warn you of. No one likes to be promoted to, and you can’t always predict how they will interpret it.

But I will say two things:

1) No one is obligated to do something for you, even if you did it for them. Unless you discussed it before hand, when you act entitled to something after a favor, they’re going to think you’re an ass.

2) Don’t respond to the trolls. You’ll just both end up being dill holes.

UPDATE:

To clarify, I thought I'd include my Tweets. He deleted his, so all I have left are my responses. (Below I fill in his response as I remember them. Some bias may be included, but that's unintentional.)






Him: hey no follow back?

Me: Sorry about that, but I do actually read my feed and don't follow pages filled with retweets.

Him: Sorry! We're just really excited about our technical works!

Perhaps you should reconsider your strategy and not be so PC about who you retweet. :)

Me: Why?

Him: Because you'll miss new exciting opportunities!

We're a FREE channel for independent videos!

no problem... you want us to unfollow you then?

Me: I won't notice, which is why you should have done it in the first place.

Him: Why are you so mean spirited?

You should rename your profile the Twitter Police!


Me: It's your indignant attitude. You are trying to get something out of me and are pissed when I'm uninterested.

Him: That's just the thing. I'm not selling anything. It's FREE!

(Several reiterations of "Why are you so mean?")

Me: Be polite when you ask someone to follow you back, and when they say they're not interested, don't argue with their reasons.

Him: I have always been polite! I'm British and we're always polite.

(Several more comments from him I don't remember, but growing more and more upset.)

Why are you so mean spirited? Get a life!

Me: I am sorry that I hurt your feelings. Understand you are attacking me because I'm not interested in your page.

I am only one person. I am not going to buy from you, and I don't want your posts in my feed. It's not the end of the world.

He deletes Tweets. I write this post.



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