Message to Twitter Users: Use a Lint Screen

A plea to those who [should] care.

I write about Twitter too much. I know that. But Twitter has become part of my life and, like other things that are part of my life, it has given me plenty to write about.

lint screenToday’s topic is Twitter fluff. That’s my term for the kinds of tweets that are downright boring and childish, written by people who should know better. The sole purpose of these tweets seems to be to fill the Twitter world with content. Trouble is, the quality of that content is about equal to the quality of the stuff that accumulates in a clothes dryer’s lint screen.

While you expect that kind of behavior from people who really don’t have anything to tweet about or people too immature to realize the significance of their everyday experiences, you don’t expect it from people with experiences worth sharing.

I’m not naming names here. Or Twiter IDs, for that matter. But I recently added a professional journalist to my list of Twitter friends. This is a person who works for a media organization and typically follows stories relating to the Iraq war and politics — stories that matter. An adult. A professional. Someone who should have interesting tweets.

What I found, however, is that more than half of this person’s tweets are messages to his new Twitter friends to greet them. For example, “Hi new Twitterfriends, @AlexTheBird, @JackTheDog, and @mlanger!” While it’s very friendly of this person to greet all his new friends, reading dozens of tweets like this throughout the day — between the daily “Good morning, Twitter!” and nightly “Good night, Twitter!” posts — is pretty much a waste of my time. I’m interested in what this guy is doing. Who is he interviewing? What has he learned? What insight can he share about his professional journalism world? How can what he’s doing make me think about the world around me?

I need to mention here that I don’t expect every tweet I read to contain some kind of deep revelation for me. (If that were possible, I’d spend all of my time reading Twitter tweets.) This morning, one of my Twitter friends posted a tweet in which the text was all upside-down. How the heck did she do that? She followed up with a link that showed us how. Useless? Yes. Trivial? Sure. But fun? You bet! And a heck of a lot more interesting than “Hello new Twitterfriends @joe, @jim, and @jake!”

And, for those of you ready to go on the offensive, I’m also not saying that my tweets are anything special. I just tweet about the things I’m doing. Some of them are pretty dull. (Who cares that I’m reading my e-mail?) Some of them are pretty interesting. (How many people land their helicopters in a new friend’s backyard?) But I’m not filling the Twitter world with fluff, either.

Anyway, I’m kind of hoping this journalist friend reads this and recognizes himself and thinks about what he’s typing to the world — especially to all of those new friends he keeps greeting. No offense guy, but you can do much better than that. I know you can.

3 thoughts on “Message to Twitter Users: Use a Lint Screen

  1. Maybe (in my case) I shouldn’t throw stones, as I’m an occasional offender. I know at least one other person who does the whole “good morning/goodnight” thing, and worse, their tweets generally span several posts – which means that they don’t stand on their own and are basically useless. I have to say I removed that person in the end.

  2. I’m afraid I come across this type of situation for to frequently and I must say, It’s putting me off twitter (ok, ok, I didn’t really mean that, but still…). Twitter is a wonderful tool that, when managed properly, can promote you, your site, and etc. I am also not interested in more than 10 posts per day from the same person, especially when they are nothing more than gibberish. Having to surf that much gibberish in one day can make be extremely cranky. Yet, after a day of twitt-surfing it’s all the more rewording when I do find someone who’s posts are interesting and fun. To these twitters I become an instant follower!

  3. I really believe that the key is to use a Twitter tool (like Twitterific or TwitterBin) and to be really picky about who you choose as friends. What’s your Twitter ID?

What do you think?