When Twitter first started attracting attention in 2007 or so, many people who didn't understand or just didn't like the microblogging service dismissed it as a tool for narcissists to broadcast "what I ate for lunch" to the world.
I can't count how many times that cliched "ate for lunch" expression appeared in early coverage of Twitter. I don't see it as much now, perhaps because the service is now well-established and thus no longer warrants "look at this weird Twitter thing" articles, or maybe because not as many people are tweeting about their dining choices.
The truth is, people are entitled to tweet just about anything they want, which is as it should be. Also true is that nearly everyone who uses the microblogging service finds certain behaviors on Twitter to be incredibly annoying.
I've always tended to let the annoying stuff slide if the person I'm following also contributes worthwhile comments and links. But lately I've found my patience wearing thin with certain common Twitter practices, and I've begun unfollowing people who are regular and egregious violators -- even people with massive followings who presumably could help me by retweeting a link to something I wrote.
Below are my biggest Twitter pet peeves. If you are a repeat offender of any of the following, I will (or already have) hit the "unfollow" button with malicious intent:
1. Tweets mentioning your stupid Klout score. It's meaningless to me and the rest of the world. Trust me and the rest of the world.
2. Excessive tweets regarding FourSquare and where you are at the moment. Do you really think anyone cares that you're "at the gym" again or whether you're the "mayor" of your local Starbuck's? We truly don't, Your Honor.
3. If you try to start arguments with me. I'm not on Twitter to argue. Boom. End of discussion. My time and energy are too valuable. You want to argue, tweet something nice about President Obama and add a #tcot hashtag. You'll get your argument, and then some.
4. Shamelessly grubbing for Shorty Awards votes. It's pathetic. If I see it just once -- just once -- you're gone. In fact, an hour ago I dinged a guy with more than 45,000 followers for this infraction, which was the impetus for this post.
5. Tweeting something you think is funny and ending it with an "LOL." Wasn't "LOL" originally intended for use by people responding to what someone else wrote, as in "what you just said made me laugh out loud"? When you use LOL for your own tweets, it's like a stand-up comedian telling a joke and then breaking up in laughter. That's not how it's supposed to work.
6. ALL CAPS.
7. Fawning @replies to celebrities or retweets of what they posted. This is just sad. The thing is, Lady Gaga's not going to be your bestest friend because you agreed with her or RTed something she tweeted. Here's something Lady Gaga (that is, one of Lady Gaga's underlings) wrote yesterday: "NOTE TO BLEACHED BLONDES WHO ARE TONING: do not fear the sting of toner! Wait five minutes and it's just so painful your scalp will numb." This bit of invaluable advice was retweeted 100 times!
8. Using "hot babe" icons for your link-spamming operation. OK, I'll keep these around for awhile for obvious reasons (hey, I'm a guy), but eventually the tsunami of tweet-links wears me down.
One item not on my list that appears in just about every other Twitter "pet peeve" compendium is the "auto-DM" when you follow someone. Many people complain this is "impersonal." Well, it is, but since Twitter is now primarily a marketing vehicle, I'm not sure why everyone's expecting "personal" these days. That horse left the barn by 2009, maybe even earlier.
Feel free to leave your Twitter pet peeves in the comments section. But no arguing.