Almost all of us have a comment policy on our blogs and any good blogger with decent content does not tolerate abusive language and ill mannered commentators on their blogs. So it can be assumed that there does exist a blog etiquette which every good blogger follows. What about etiquette on the recent social media phenomenon,otherwise known as Twitter? Unless you have been living under a rock, all of you must be aware of Twitter. Whether you are using it or not is a different issue. I had joined Twitter on 20th Feb 2008 but I became really active just few months back. Since then, I have observed few things about this social media as compared to a macro blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger. And these observations have forced me to raise a few questions about it.

Quoting Jina Dcruz’s opinion “I’m tired of tweets on twitter etiquette.Makes me feel like learning table manners for an elite restaurant when I want to be in a dhaba”. It is true that Twitter is a sort of informal, casual, outright and speak whatever however you want type of micro blogging platform. Its basically- anything goes. But does that mean there should be no etiquette at all? In a recent report, scientists have warned that Twitter can harm moral values. Here is an excerpt:-

Today’s fast-paced media could be making us indifferent to human suffering and should allow time for us to reflect, according to researchers. They found that emotions linked to moral sense are slow to respond to news and events and have failed to keep up with the modern world. In the time it takes to fully reflect on a story of anguish and suffering, the news bulletin has already moved on or the next Twitter update is already being read.

Here is an excerpt from an article “Social netiquette: When poking isn’t polite” :-

“There has been a major cultural shift in the way we communicate and document our social lives in recent years, but we have not been taught digital or online manners,” says Jo Bryant, an advisor for U.K.-based etiquette authority Debrett’s.

This article has listed some dos and don’ts for netiquette like don’t talk about poop in public, don’t be creepy and so on. Although Twitter is just not about what the other person had for breakfast, still there is a thing called too much information. So that is one thing that Twitter users should keep in mind.

Further, stuff like typos in tweets don’t matter but what about the use of expletives in one’s tweets? Users say good morning and good night daily, they thank other users when their tweets are re-tweeted (means re -posted) but then they go on to write sentences full of b*****d or f*** etc. I really find it disturbing when a 10th standard student tweets that “I am gonna kill the bloody idiotic maths teacher of our school. Bloody ass”.  I understand that not every teacher is good but still it seems offensive to talk about someone that way. There are many such users who express in such a way most of the times and they have quite a number of followers too. Does this not show deterioration of etiquette in the present day users of social mediums? And maybe this deterioration is not restricted to only their online lives but is also present in their real life behaviour.

Of course one may argue that all you need to do is unfollow that person. But does that justify the absence of discretion in a social media user? The arguments “I will tweet what I want” similar to the lines of ” I will blog what I want “; are they good enough to justify it? There exists a fine line between one’s right to write what he pleases and to take care of his readers’ taste/feelings. I guess this is an age old debate that whether one should be careful with words and presentation or should just say whatever comes to his mind.

There was an incident of an user pointing out to another user that he should not re-tweet stuff which are filled with expletives. The result? Both had an argument and stopped following each other. Such incidents also result in the user being called “moral police”, “kiddo” etc.  So, one more thing that I feel about Twitter is the desire and the pressure on users to be “cool” to have followers. Most of the users are not Zen like and they do care about number of followers and stuff. So would one wanting to be cool and popular feel the pressure to accept use of expletives repeatedly, offensive sentences, and to keep quiet no matter what others tweet. Am I right? Do you feel such a pressure when you interact with other users on Twitter?

I have just expressed the questions and the personal opinions that have been floating in my head since few days. I think I have not been able to find answers to them yet.


Related posts :-

Why Twitter Killed The Blogging Star by Bombay Addict

Annoying Habits in Social Media by Kristy Bolsinger

Etiquette in the Age of Social Media by Chris Brogan

70 thoughts on “Twittiquette

  1. Its a small world on twitter. Whether we like it or not, f-work is part of daily lingo of several people. Since twitter is conversational, it does translate there.

    If you don’t like them, unfollow them. There is no other way.

    As for me, I don’t feel any kind of pressure socially, I will not play to the gallery. Thank you very much! (Not even my typos/shortened words mind.) 😛

    Reema: Yes I guess thats the only way but that is not the solution to the greater worry.

  2. Heard a lot about Twitter, however not got the chance to sign up and look up what it has. Been aware of every next celebrity being on there. Hope to get some time to blog and will then think about checking it out..!!

    Guess, blogging worls has its own class. Not to generalise I have seen people bloggers with a lot of Etiquette atleast most of them…! All in all, guess its an individualistic thing…Mr A would prefer Blogging with the choicest of abuses..while Mr B won’t …same would be for twitter…while you would really maintain your class and standards, while for others its just way tooo much freedom online which they may not have had personally, in their personal lives.

    Reema: yes what u said is true. Hey do join twitter. would love to have u there.

  3. I am really new to twitter… its good… but these thoughts never came to my mind… I feel that one must their mind their words when talking or expressing in public

  4. Twitter is good. You just have to filter the things that you don’t like. I stick to Philosophy and Humor on my tweets and sometimes daily life which bring out Philosophy and Humor. I also follow folks in a heart beat who have interesting original tweets. I skip the RTs and Replies and just look at their original tweets. It will give you an idea of how good/bad they are. At the end of the day, It is fun.

  5. I don’t have any comment policy on my blog(s), usual rules of netiquette apply & I usually don’t censor comments in which a reader takes pot shots at me. I just stick to one rule in particular, don’t be overly abusive towards me or other readers. Blogs are medium of free expression, so I try to let people express whats on their mind as I express what’s on my mind.

    As for swear words, I’d just say this – गाली व्यक्ति के भाषा कोष की कंगाली का सूचक होती है – though I also use the swear words but then I never claimed to be a dictionary! 🙂

    I really find it disturbing when a 10th standard student tweets that “I am gonna kill the bloody idiotic maths teacher of our school. Bloody ass”. I understand that not every teacher is good but still it seems offensive to talk about someone that way.

    This is not something which originated with blogs or social media. This has been present in real life for ages! When I was in school & blogs/social media hadn’t come (heck, even GUI internet wasn’t there), then also boys & girls (yes girls as well) talked like this amongst friends (using similar or more advanced adjectives) for various people be it a teacher or some classmate or one of the peons or the school principal or receptionist or librarian etc. And it was not just limited to this kinda talk but much advanced levels as well! 🙂

    This is not just with kids in our society but everywhere, in western cultures as well as in eastern cultures! So I wouldn’t bother much about the studies by the scientists, I think they’ve been about 30-40 years late in publishing them (most of the times I’ve seen such studies far away from pratical life anyways)!! 😉

    Twitter & other social media platforms are a bit more informal, so people & kids let themselves a bit loose here, a lot of people vent their frustrations. But you’ll see that people who mostly use abusive/gross language on social media use it mostly on blogs as well & in real life as well, it kinda becomes a habit so hard to stop the flowing thoughts!! 🙂

    Most of the users are not Zen like and they do care about number of followers and stuff.

    Hmm, I don’t care about the number of followers or readers, stopped giving a darn a long long time back, but I dunno if I’m “zen”, hehe!! 😉

    I’ll just say that the only people who should be concerned about what they write or put online are those people themselves since anything shared online publicly doesn’t go into oblivion easily and as the cartoon at the end of your post shows, the penalties can be high! 🙂

    • Wow!!! such a long and wonderful comment 🙂 thanks!! I guess all the old bloggers after a time don’t care about such stuff and become Zen like 😀

      • Its just like how it goes in life. In beginning you are more excited about all things, you give a darn about everything. But as time passes by & you reach the “been there done that” stage, you stop giving darn about nuisances and care only about things which you think actually matter to you! 🙂

  6. *Solilo moving the rock and looking out to see this wonder called Twitter…..ahem…not impressed. Crawls under the rock again. *


  7. interesting topic! the student scenario you raised happened to me. an ex-colleague at work updated status in fb in reference to me, something that i was not comfortable with. i removed this person from my friends list because i don’t want to read anymore unsavoury things about me. as poonam said, i couldn’t do anything about it except to stop having access to such things.

    i think basic etiquette applies anywhere on the net, though when things are known as being ‘casual’ it seems etiquette does not apply there. in which case, it might be hard to impose any sort of that because people would not be obliged to observe them.

    twitter definitely raises the pressure for me to come up with good one-liners! maybe the practice will churn out the comedic side in me. 😆

  8. i agree with amit…

    And why bother so much about followers??? If you like them, follow them.. Whats the pressure?? And why the pressure???

    And the profanity is not new, its there since time immemorial!

    Well, can go on… but i think i have conveyed what i wanted to! 🙂

  9. On a serious note *rolls eyes*, 10th graders, even 6th graders talk worse than that in real life.. so i think they’re taking a little care abt their attitude.. but afterall twitter is abt posting what is in ur mind.. how will u censor thoughts? U can however choose not to follow someone’s thoughts..

  10. Reema,
    I follow a simple principle, Don’t worry(about stupid things) be happy(about everything) 🙂 and I guess you follow it too in your own way. 😉

    Like @_alps said, unfollow them!!!

    ROFL 😀 😀


    Unless you have been living under a rock, all of you must be aware of Twitter.

    You will be surprised at how many people are living under the rock. I know more than 100 of my colleagues and none them have ever heard of twitter. And most of my old classmates don’t know the word “blog” 😀 and 80% of my friends have never heard about Firefox.

  11. Well I am in part agreement, the idea of blogging/twitter or any social media is too express freely.

    I am sure we are all uncomfortable by certain things/language/actions.

    But the whole essence of social media is connecting with like minded people with similar interests, opinions. So if you grossly disagree on using a particular form of expression, you are free to disconnect and disengage. There is no obligation to be connected.

    The idea of Internet is a borderless word, a world without boundaries, restriction, a world without social stigma where you can be yourself without actually bothering others. For example, a person might be a feminist and a has had really bad experiences with men and is totally against any kind of relationship with them, on the other hand there is a person who believes in the relationship.
    Now they can decide not to connect and live happily ever after in their parallel world. I guess a lot of problem is when connecting becomes an ego issue, imposing our views on others. I mean whats with number of followers on twitter, number of friends on orkut/facebook.

    The point in the end is the connect, if you do it well then you won’t have to worry about it.

    Well for blogs this goes a bit differently, a blog is your page and the person commenting is endorsing or condescending your views and you have a right to what is written and endorsed on your page. For example, I disabled adsense when I found they were selling “Viagra” on my Blog. So for blogs the rules and directives are important.

  12. I use twitter only to recommend the interesting articles that I read in the blogosphere or online media. I have a widget to display my twitter messages on my blog and hence stick to that point only. Actually, I consider twitter as a subset of my blog.

    Destination Infinity

  13. I do feel such language is offensive.. It’ll be good if they filter the content … and block abusive use.. Else, the best alternative is to ignore such messages or unfollow them!! There’s not much that can be done…

  14. I am on Twitter except that I think I ahve lost my password or ..something..and though I get mails informing me that so and so has started following me 😀 *too stalker-ish* I still have no clue how to
    a)get back in 😀
    b)or rather dont have the patience for retrieving the password..
    c)what would I do with twitter anyway?:D
    d)I am technologically challenged
    the last says it all…
    Twitter makes my head ache 😀

    • LOL 😀 I understand..its hard for teachers to be twitter power user. Still people get shocked to know I am a lecturer and use Twitter. It is because our jobs dont involve sitting at a PC or access to internet the whole time while at work.

  15. I agree with those who say that Twitter is like how people talk. I too am taken aback at some of the words I hear around me because we were taught to use words and mean them! Nowdays people use words they don’t mean, and well frankly I don’t think it means anything! I have become very tolerant of this type of language and don’t take this type of lingo to heart because I think I have grown up with two teenage daughters and they have taught me a lot! 🙂

  16. Just wanted to add that I too would wince if someone told me to shut the fuck up in a casual way and then laughed! But then these things are just conversation one hears, not participates in! Same for Twitter I guess.

  17. hmm, good point there.
    one of my communist friends tweeted when he saw Congress Candidate Shashi Tharoor winning elections ” those who voted for him are s**t eating mudheads …

    and he is a IIT student ..

    any comments ?

  18. Well I guess many should be a bit more responsible on the net. Its like, we would never write such statements on our door or our car. When the net gives us the liberty of being anonymous(although not entirely) some misuse it to shout out their anger.

  19. Good post! Well, I dont use twitter as I find it bit too intrusive for my taste…but Iam ok to use it for informational/professional reasons..
    Regarding people swearing on Twitter etc, Iam not media (blogging, facebook, twitter etc) are not that virtual as people think..sooner or later, a person’s true colors come forth there if he swears in real, most likely he will do that one day on twitter too 😉

    • Thanks! yes thats what..the online and real personalities are not that different and that is what is worrisome about the social media users especially the young generation!

  20. Geek Wrestler handy list of Things not to tweet:

    1. I am going to fucking kill that bloody engineering teacher on my Twitter list. 😛

    Don’t piss off the teacher tweeple. [Although all those quotes are getting to me. 😛 ]

  21. Well, I accept any kind of bad lingo, or I wouldn’t live in Rome. I’m vaccinated. I agree tho with all who said: ‘if you don like, don’t follow’. Virtual life is like real life, with the exception that in the former spotting phoneys is harder, especially with a small number of words.

    I confess I have not much time for Twitter. It is a powerful social network tool, no doubt, but I prefer macro blogs. I use Twitter mainly to promote my writings, which I do so badly I hardly get any hit from Twitter. So I’m wondering what am I doing there. I guess I like to see blogging friends in real time.

    • LOL 🙂 Are Romans that bad? U need to increase number of followers to get substantial hits from twitter. I too like to see my blogging friends there. Thats why weekends are a bore on Twitter for me.

  22. I started twittering some days back and to tell you the truth, I was bored. 😦 Its stupid, unless and until you want to follow something live/current. In that scenario, it becomes very useful and entertaining.
    I don’t know if I will continue or not. Blog hi sahi hai! 🙂

    • Its more like connecting and chatting with many people at same time. Some may not like that! But yes one can get information real fast on Twitter.

  23. That was an interesting read.
    But no matter how I crib, I cant deny the fact that Im addicted to twitter as of now and is more than happy that there is some kind of invisible code of decorum.Like they say, its just that too many cooks spoil the broth
    Thanx for linking me.Dint see it till today..:)

  24. Wola this post was brilliant..

    Am a Twitter addict, n many know it! Like you I also just started been a power user, cos first I didn’t know what do out thr., n now am one who tweets about everythin!! Now agree with the whole swearin part (I do swear too), but I donnu how far it matters..cos of the simple function called unfollow..

    But b4 coming to that point..I have been able to gain so many contacts via twitter, which didnt work out well in linkedin too..i feel here the networking aspect is very personal. Of all the fun, swearing, cursing, bitchin thr is a simple point of interaction ..the emotion involved in it, the best eg. would be my usual argument with the Blore tweeps over iPhone n Nokia ..people swear around open, n thn a healthy discussion actually happens.. n the F’ word is part of our lingo now, I would say it should not be called a swear word.. So yes for me twitter has a very strong networking value, both proffessional n personal.

    Coming to the point of unfollowing tweeps n nasty kiddish arguments..yes there is huge ego clashes out there..each one out thr is kinda master of his own trade..n a lot of them argue, cos many don’t like accepting the fact that they don’t know everything..some people quietly unfollow, some actually give a reason on why they are unfollowin, I would say it dsnt matter who follows u who dsnt..”twitter is like taking to oneself, only diff. is that the whole world is listenin”. Twitter has evolved from what you are doing -to- what’s on your mind! Blogs have a target audi., unless u r one of the big shots on twitter, or ones feeding blog bits..ur audi., is not I consider it to be okay to speak out loud what’s in ma mind :p

    Coming to point of kid abusing the teacher…believe me we have seen worse abuses in class rooms, even sexual! So let’s not even relate that to twitter o_O

    All said I don’t think twitter is harming anyones morality…if it is I would say they should learn to filter what they see, it’s not that tough!!

    Oh well I don’t think I follow you! So here I come :)) what’s my welcome gift?? o_O

  25. I seriously never understood why people sound appalled when they see a f-word on internet. I mean seriously I hear 100x worse things in life directed at me with full intention to cause insult, if I sit and crib about each of them then there is really nothing else I will have time for. I am not saying that you are cribbing about it but people do that on internet generally as in act totally oblivious to what is actually happening in real life.

    Nowadays even a 3rd grade kid abuses in languages unknown to many people. The thing is if a person has to be bound by the rules society puts forward then why is he even a free person? I mean if even the way we talk has to be governed by rules then I would rather live on island.

    And this is not a joke as fossiloflife said it is the way we express ourselves. That one f-word can tell thousands of emotions which how much ever English you have learnt, you cant get it across to others.

    I personally find no problem with people swearing when it is mostly to show emotions which they feel really strongly. And I seriously do think that thinking that swearing is cool or kiddish itself is dumb, its just how a person is thats all.

    I remember a guy unfollowed me because I sweared. I wasnt swearing at him I was generally just pissed off at everyone for acting stupid. He thought I used it to be cool but it was more of a highly charged emotion translated into words. He unfollowed me not that I care because that tells me he didnt belong in my timeline.

Come On! Say Something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s