Deciphering social media shorthand

27 Jul

If you’re a regular user of Twitter or Facebook, you probably have your own peculiar annoyances with each. I have at least two:

Dear sandwich, please be tastier next time.

Addressing inanimate objects, entities or nameless individuals. You know you’ve seen them. I know I have. I’m sure I’ve even done it once or twice. But they’re now so overused, it’s perhaps time to suggest a ban on them. I’m talking about the tweets and status updates that go something like, “Dear bus: thank you for making me late for my appointment,” or, “Dear air conditioner, how about you work for a change?” or even, “Dear outside, you are the hottest.” (That last one is actually real.)

I probably have too much time on my hands, but I have considered what such addresses to inanimate objects or entities actually mean. They’re essentially complaints, expressed in a way that makes the person writing them appear endearing, funny or clever, as opposed to the crank that they might really be. Social media, of course, is all about appearances.

Social media is also a repository of bitching and moaning - heck, that’s practically why it was invented. I know I complain about a lot of stuff on Twitter, so does everyone else. It is nice to not be considered a whiner, so dressing complaints up with cleverness is a good idea. This particular method, though, has passed its best-before date. Dear fellow complainers, let’s move on.

Apologetic pleas for traffic. As someone who runs a blog, I know the heartbreak that can result when you don’t get as much traffic to a post or article as you were hoping, especially when it’s something you spent hours on. One way to deal with this is to try and draw readers in with more promotion on social media. On Twitter, such a plea almost always unfortunately starts with five words: “In case you missed it…”

Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing wrong with linking to a post a few times in a day. Obviously, people aren’t on Twitter or Facebook all the time, so they may in fact have missed your original pointer. However, it’s those five words - “in case you missed it” - that are annoying because they almost suggest that the writer knows they’re bugging people. They seem like an apology to the people who in fact didn’t miss it the first time; a rationalization to them about why it’s being posted again.

My advice: just be honest and ditch the preamble. Just about everyone knows that Twitter users can’t be expected to be on all the time, so there’s no need to apologize. Go ahead and post your link multiple times, you’ll save 21 characters. If that annoys people, you’ll know it soon enough, either through lost followers or somebody complaining, perhaps even with an nameless address directed at your account.

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Posted by on July 27, 2011 in Facebook, Twitter


3 Responses to Deciphering social media shorthand

  1. Simon Cohen

    July 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    I’d like to add two Twitter peeves of mine: the all-profile based tweet. You know the kind: “Soo true @profile1 @profile2 @profile3 @profile4 etc.” and the Follow Friday tweets that similarly list a bunch of profiles with zero explanation as to why anyone would want to follow them. Do these tweeters seriously think I would start following someone just because they’re listed with #FF in front of them?

    • petenowak2000

      July 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

      I’m going to +1 that!

  2. Ben Babcock

    July 27, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Apostrophe has a long and venerable tradition, and I see no reason why we should not continue using it on Twitter. It was good enough for the Bard. If you would like, however, I will compromise and always compose my “Dear X” tweets in iambic pentameter.


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