Three rules for staying sane on Twitter

I confess. I like Twitter. So what if The Synonym Finder lists these equivalents for the word “twitter”?

  • jabber,
  • babble,
  • prate,
  • twaddle,
  • be in a flutter,
  • be excited,
  • be agitated,
  • be in a dither,
  • be wrought up,
  • fuss,
  • and fidget.

As much as people complain about Twitter—you’ll hear them say, “It’s a cesspool!”—I’ve enjoyed my nine years on the platform (@joegoski). Occasionally, my foot may begin to slip into the gooey stuff, but recalling my three rules for Twitter sanity brings me back to dry ground.

The first rule is to remember that Twitter is a minority taste. Half of American Twitter users have fewer than 30 followers and follow only about 100 contributors, according to the Pew Research Centre. There’s no reason to think that Canadian users are much different. Revel in your exclusivity!

The second rule is to recognize that the people who might drive you crazy on Twitter are a tiny minority. Pew Research found that 90% of the tweets in the U.S. were created by a mere 10% of adult Twitter users. So, when you read a news story that claims “Twitter blew up” over some controversial statement, remember that it’s relatively few people who have lost their minds. And they’re shouting at each other, not you. You don’t have to be one of them.

The final rule is to stretch your imagination by following many more sites than you currently follow. Really go for it. Among the 620 sites I follow are: pundits, polls, and politicians; bishops, priests, and sisters; poets; sports teams; consultants; businesses; and some outliers that add joy to my timeline.

Here are screen captures from a few of my favourite outliers :

@realTimeWWII posts several tweets a day following the chronology of the Second World War. The timeline is currently in 1942. Check out this Tweets about a U-boat attack in Canadian waters:

@RoyalFamily tweets about the activities of members of the British royal family and posts images from the family’s colourful past. Listening to the audiogram of the Queen’s radio speech to children, delivered when she was a mere 14 years old, made me pause to give thanks for this remarkable woman.

@BLMedieval posts images and links to blog posts about some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts that have survived the centuries. Don’t miss their retweets of scholars’ favourite decorative elements and moving incidentals, like Anne Boleyn’s note to her husband in the margins of her Book of Hours.

@Tweetolectology maps fascinating details about dialects in the British Isles. Who can resist looking into the answers to questions like “Do you pronounce the ‘w’ in words like ‘woman’ and ‘wood'” or what word do you use to describe being very cold? (Hint: ‘starving’ is an accepted term.)

@OTBaseballPhoto posts pictures from baseball’s past. If you’ve ever wondered what Yankee stadium looked like from the air during its construction or what Casey Stengel looked like as a young man, this is the site for you.

So, prattle on proudly, avoiding the muck and decorating your timeline with little jewels of joy. I hope to see you in my timeline.

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