I like writing rules for myself. The idea of organising my thoughts on any topic in a structured way gets me excited. My goal is to have rules for everything like this guy. So it was inevitable I would create this post one day considering I spend so much time on Twitter.
Here are my Twitter rules:
- Whenever you get more than a dozen questions on the same topic, write a blogpost so that you don’t have to reply the same thing again and again.
- Don’t tag people on your tweets unless it is really important.
- Don’t seek attention. Don’t post controversial things for the sake of engagement.
- Don’t be a groupie (By groupie I mean an enthusiastic or uncritical follower of someone on Twitter).
Horizontal relationships vs vertical be it on social media or real life. Read the Courage to be Disliked to learn more on this subject.
- Back scratching is at the core of the Twitter experience. I see people tag each other on ‘Who is the best in X’ tweets. Like/retweet each other for mutual benefit. I don’t want that. ‘Like’ my tweets if it is something worth liking. Not because I did the same for you.
- A little background: When I was young I used to run all sort of experiments on social media. I would like someone’s post/photo before sharing my own. I always found a super high correlation between me liking someone’s post following by them liking mine. I stopped believing in social media relationships quite early in my life thanks to these experiences.
- Don’t change your Twitter activity based on how many followers you have.
- A little background: Years back I used to be minor Quora celeb (forgive me for calling myself that). I probably had one of the highest Upvote/Answer count of Quora writers. Anything I used to write would blow up. As I gained followers, I started getting followed by other prominent/famous folks (startup founders, other top writers etc). Basically people who mattered on Quora. The flip side of that was me getting paranoid about losing my top/famous followers. I started only sharing the ‘best content possible’. A political strategy post I had written got viral during that time. Because a few of political analysts had followed me after that post, I started wondering if I should write longer ‘thought leadership posts on politics’ even though I was not that into Politics. I started writing less of what I actually wanted and more of what would make me ‘seem smart’ amongst my new ‘famous’ followers. I used to write a lot of joke answers (the version of shit posting on Quora) earlier but I stopped that. I eventually overcame this phase. And by the time I was done I realised I no longer enjoyed writing on Quora. Giving life advice to 15 year olds loses its appeal after a while. But promised myself that I would never ever change my writing style or content to impress other people. If people like what I write (be it Product Management content or shit posts) they would follow. If they don’t they can always fuck off.
- I see a lot of VCs, startup founders following me on Twitter nowadays. Unlike half a decade back I don’t worry about them unfollowing me because of my shit posts. I have stopped caring. I joke. I shitpost. I vent. Sometimes I post good stuff too. But it is my choice and not something I am sharing to impress random people on the Internet.
- Don’t separate Manas the PM from Manas the shit poster. Social media should be a reflection of your entire persona and not a curated version of you.
- Don’t reply to questions (either on replies or DM) which can be easily answered through a simple Google search.
- Don’t reply to Hi/Hello messages which don’t have any context attached.
- Make people work for the help they seek.. 50% of these people don’t even acknowledge my message because it involves an ask from me. But I get pleasantly surprised when someone actually reads the posts mentioned in the link and comes back with follow up questions.
- Don’t tie your ego to your Twitter profile. Or the number of followers, likes, retweets and other vanity metrics
- A little background: Long back when I used to be a minor Quora celeb (wow Manas, stop with the Quora stories already. we get that you were popular) it used to make me super happy seeing my answers get thousands of upvotes, hundred thousand+ page views. I used to track these numbers obsessively, and get super happy with myself. Then one day I realised how meaningless it was and stopped getting excited about them.
- I know I won’t be looking for cheap ways for engagement If I am deleting my posts anyway in a week. Or care about likes or retweets. The dopamine hits with each retweet is temporary. They give happiness in the short-term but like most things in life do not matter in the long run. I also don’t have any tracking/analytics on this site. I don’t want to know how many people are reading this.
- Does likes and retweets do not matter at all? I guess they do matter at some level. If no one interacts with my tweets, I won’t even know if anyone was reading them. And if no one was reading my tweets/ blogposts I would not publish them. What I was merely pointing out above was the meaningless of social media metrics.
- Deleting my tweets lets me be more honest with my thoughts. If I knew all my tweets would be stored for eternity I would not probably shit post about the Government. I seriously don’t want to go to jail for my anti BJP rants.
- My tweets being ephemeral lets my profile be a reflection of who I am at the current. Feelings change. Opinions change. I don’t want to be tied to my tweets or my current opinions. I cringe at most of my teenage facebook posts. I don’t want some asshole going through my tweets from 5 years back and taking screenshots (which has happened in the past with facebook).
- But I do turn long threads into blogposts if I think people found them useful and would want to read them again later.
- Don’t argue with people online. No one will change their views based on a single tweet. So why put in the effort?
- Don’t write pointless replies like ‘Disagree’, ‘Don’t think so’ on other people’s tweets. They probably don’t care about your opinion anyway. What do you get by posting ‘Disagree’? Nothing.
- Don’t retweet your own tweets.
- If I feel like I had posted something important earlier which will be interesting for people who did not manage to read it the first time, I post the same tweet again.
- But then again let’s accept that it is harder to retweet your tweets when they go away in a week. Another argument for deleting your tweets ;)
- Don’t respond to Twitter replies unless there is something valuable to add.
- You have the right to post snarky replies if you are in a bad mood though and someone had posted some stupid reply to your tweet.
- You have the right to remind people that you don’t care about their opinion if they disagree with something you posted.
- You are not on Twitter to change people’s opinion on any subject or to make them like you. So don’t waste time explaining your views.
- If people come and tell you, “Tweet about X and not Y”, “Stick to X”, gently remind them that you will tweet whatever the fuck you wan’t and if they have a problem they can go and fuck themselves.
Note: If people disagree with these rules, just let them know that these are your rules and not theirs. They are free to do whatever the fuck they want.