Tweet translation for non-Twitter users –and some tips for Twitter newbies.
OK, this is a humor blog, so why do I have a page about reading tweets? Beats me, it just seemed like the right thing to do. See, every once in awhile I post some of my favorite tweets. It turns out that some of my readers have lives and therefore don’t use Twitter, and it occurred to me that if you don’t actually use Twitter, then this stuff just looks like gibberish. Well, the first thing you need to know is that most of it is gibberish. But don’t let that stop you from reading it.
When you’re done, have a look around I’ve Become My Parents. I promise you won’t learn anything else.
So here’s a quick guide to reading tweets:
- You only get 140 characters, including spaces. So if you’re the kind of person who goes ballistic over poor grammar and bad spelling, slang and general sloppiness, go read a book; Twitter isn’t for you.
- Everyone has a Twitter name. Mine is IBecameMyDad (ITweet4Cash was taken)
- Twitter’s cool because people who sign on to read your tweets are called followers. So I have followers. I’ve not yet tested to see exactly how far they’ll follow me. But it’s not like a Jonestown kind of thing, so probably not far. On the other hand, they probably could have picked a better name; I am getting a bit of a Jesus complex.
- Everyone could, in theory, see whatever you tweet, but they don’t because there are pretty much only 5 ways to see a particular person’s tweet: you are following them; they include your Twitter name in the tweet; someone you are following re-tweeted the tweet; you do a search for their name or a word they happen to have used in a tweet; or you are following a hashtag.
- Right, now you want to know what a hashtag is. See all the words below that start with the # symbol? Those are hashtags. If you want to label your tweet with a subject, say, #thingsthatsmellworsethanateenager, you stick the # in front of it. Then anybody else that that wants to talk about that can follow it and they’ll see your tweets even if they aren’t following you. They show up a different color because you can click on a hashtag and all the tweets that include it will show up. I follow the hashtag #idiot just because I’m paranoid and like to know what people are saying about me. People also sometimes use hashtags #Justtohighlightsomething. Like that.
- You’re going to see the @ symbol a lot. The way to get a specific person’s attention is to use their Twitter name with the @ symbol in front of it. Maybe you’re replying to something they said or just want to tell them you think their profile picture is hot. They’ll see it even if they aren’t following you. So when a tweet contains @ followed by a Twitter name, it means that it was directed to that person.
- If you start a tweet with “@”, the only person who sees it is the one whose name follows the @. That lets you respond to someone’s tweet without boring all your followers with exciting tweets like: “@bob6137264 Yes”. If you want the rest of Twitterville to see your response, you need to stick a character in front of “@”. Most people use a period. People can go ahead and eves drop on the conversation without feeling creepy. It doesn’t mean you’re not a creep, just that it’s OK to be a creep on Twitter.
- You’ll also see RT or MT a lot. If you like something someone else said you can re-tweet it to all of your followers. RT means someone else wrote it and you are passing it along (the name of the person usually follows the RT). MT means modified tweet and if you need to shorten the original or make other changes, you can use that to come clean about it. These days, a lot of retweets are just in quotes and don’t use the “RT” in front.
Now let’s decipher it:
Someone named Sassypiehole sent a tweet directed to me saying “the truth shall set you free (that was this part: @IbecameMyDad the truth shall set you free). Then I re-tweeted her tweet (RT @sassypiehole followed by her original tweet) and added the statement, “I’m content here in my prison of denial and ignorance, thank you.” The hashtag was added so that anyone following “truth” would see this tweet. Get it?
If you do decide to actually get your own Twitter account, here are a few things to note:
- Yes, of course all the profile pictures are the actual person doing the tweeting. Except the cute kitty pictures; the cat is tweeting on their owner’s behalf.
- The better looking/less dressed the girl in the picture, the more likely it’s spam. Fantasize all you want but you’re never getting a date.
- If the profile picture includes the person’s hand supporting their chin or holding their glasses, then you’re being followed by an “expert.” They probably like to tweet all about how you can get rich using a very professional profile picture and by following everybody on the planet hoping they’ll follow you back so eventually they’ll buy your book on how to get rich following people on Twitter. If you don’t follow them back within a few days, they usually go away.
- As a general rule, if a person has to call him or herself an “expert” in their Twitter profile, they probably aren’t one.
- Nobody actually laughs out loud; it’s just an expression. Sorry.
- There are 7 billion people on the planet so no doubt someone will be interested in whether your bagel was stale at breakfast. But, really, do you want to hang around with people who sit at their computer all day waiting to hear about what you ate at breakfast? Tweet about something interesting and interesting people will follow you.
- You can’t actually say you know Barack Obama just because you responded to one of his tweets.
There’s a bunch more to using Twitter, but those are the basics. I post my favorite funny tweets on the blog from time to time. You can find them in the archives. Now go read some gibberish.