I've been on Twitter since 2008. I didn't know what Twitter was for when I joined, but I did know that "famous people" tweeted and sometimes even to relative nobodies such as myself, and I'd be damned if I were going to pass up an to chat about childbirth with Alyssa Milano or root canals with Demi Moore.
More importantly, Twitter was a platform whereby I could blog without blogging - I could spit out a thought without bothering to write six paragraphs to back it up. And if I came up with a stupid thought, which I have to admit happens on occasion, it would quickly disappear into the endless stream.
Of course, to make Twitter worth my while, I had to somehow generate followers. I began with the "followback" approach: follow everyone who followed me and make sure my profile says, "I follow back." That was good for at least 1,000 new followers, but after a while, I realized that this didn't make me seem popular - it made me seem like a teenager. Plus, the more people I followed, the more I was subjecting myself to the offensive, idiotic, sometimes laughable, sometimes scary Tweets of a shockingly large and vocal group of Tweeters who really just need to stop.
Ultimately, I had to unfollow thousands of morons and lunatics before finally landing in a comfortable space where I can read my feed without feeling overwhelmed by the urge to smash my iPad to bits. But you won't have to -- as I have done the work for you. I've identified the Tweeters who are most likely to annoy, enrage and fill you with disgust. These are the Tweeters you must never follow. In no particular order, I present:
The 11 Douchebags You Will Meet On Twitter:
1. Douchebags whose profile includes the caveat, "Retweets do not necessarily reflect my views" or "Retweets do not imply endorsement."
Oh, really? Well, gosh, thanks for the warning. Because otherwise we would have taken EVERYTHING you tweet as the gospel.
My experience has been that people who feel the need to make such a statement are people who need to take a good hard look at what they're tweeting and ask themselves: does anyone really care?
Notable exception: Rachel Maddow. We do care what @maddow has to say, and we don't want her to be misunderstood.
2. Douchebags who link to media stories that they clearly have not read.
This is a no-brainer, by which I mean that if you do this, you clearly lacking brains. Yes, your retweets do not imply endorsement, we know. But should we assume the same is true of your tweets? That they mean nothing? Because you don't even know what you're actually linking to?
Social media makes us lazy. Don't be lazy.
If you want to show everyone how smart you are, no one is asking you to write an article for the Atlantic. But please read the article before posting it because it actually might not say what you think it says.
3. Douchebags who cite Wikipedia as a reliable source of facts.
Do you know that anyone can edit anything on Wikipedia at any time and for now reason and without the slightest grip on reality? Sure, Wikipedia contains a lot of valuable information. But it is not a reliable source in and of itself. If you want to cite facts, go to a source that does not have an "everybody tell us what you know" philosophy and that actually employs fact-checkers.
And if you don't believe me, click on this hilarious storystory about Wiki-vandalism.
4. Douchebags who call you names.
You have 140 characters. You're really going to use it to call me a moron? If you think I'm a moron, show me why, back it up, and not with Wikipedia, thank you.
5. Douchebags who end a pointless round of arguing with this little gem: "#blocked".
Oh no you di'int!
You blocked the guy who you've spent 57 tweets trying to convince that outer-space aliens do not run the Tea Party? The guy who is tweeting from Otisville State Penitentiary? Aw, look what you did. You made the prison dude cry.
No, actually, you didn't.
You know why? Because blocking means nothing on Twitter.
The dude with prison tats can still see everything you tweet, and he can even reply to you. Blocking is futile on Twitter, and if you threaten people with it, there's a really good chance that you're a douchebag.
6. Douchebags who spend all day on Twitter.
When I say all day, I mean, literally, all day. Obviously, these folks don't work. This is very very sad. That's all. It's just too sad to willingly witness.
7. Douchebags who say "Goodnight Tweeps!"
No one cares. No one will notice that you didn't tweet for the three and a half hours that you plan to sleep before you jump back on Twitter to continue being a douchebag.
8. Douchebags who use Twitter to try to get laid.
Don't you know that's what Facebook is for?
Being Tweet-harassed is totally offensive. Witnessing it is even worse. I move that Twitter make Tweet-passes a violation of terms. They certainly are a violation of something.
Corallary to 8: Douchebags who use Twitter to try to get laid who have an avatar from more than five years ago.
I don't know what to make of this. If your avatar is you, only much younger, then you must not seriously think you're ever really going to get anywhere with your Tweet-rassments. Because if you were to spark someone's interest, then that person would eventually meet you and see that you are now middle-aged with a protruding gut and greasy hair. I am not talking about anyone in particular. But I easily could be.
9. Douchebags who take the "expired avatar" notion too seriously, updating theirs every single time they take a selfie, which is like, virtually every day.
Just stop with the selfies. We know they're selfies. We know you like the way you look. We know you want us to see you when you look this good. The problem is, selfies don't look good. They look weird. Your nose looks long in your selfie, even if you have a tiny and cute nose. Trust me. I have a tiny and cute nose that looks long in selfies. My mom told me this, and I had the good sense to listen.
10. Douchebags who didn't bother to read the memo about #Hashtags.
Here's what the memo said, and I know, because I was the one who wrote it: Hashtags are over except as a way of steering interested readers to your tweet.
Thus, it is fine to tweet about the tea party with the #TeaParty hashtag.
It is not fine to #HashTagForNoApparentReason.
11. Douchebags who tweets in chapters (like, 1 of 4, 2 of 4, 3 of 4, etc.).
Nothing you have to say is so important that it must be read like a roadside Burma Shave ad series. Burma Shave was important, and they bought space on the side of the road.
Anyway, if you were clever, you would find a way to say what you have to say in 140 characters.
If not, that's what Tumblr is for.
Don't be a douchebag.
Follow Lauren Cahn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yogachickie