I just Googled Rules of Twitter and received nearly two hundred million results. That’s astounding enough to prove that Twitter is not merely a fad of 2009. Surely a great number of these sites provide recommendations how to avoid Twitter faux pas, offer definitions for Direct Messages, ReTweets, and others, explain the origin of the emblematic “@”, and basically be a general User’s Guide to Twitter.
I do not, however, think you would find any rules of Twitter catering specifically to cyclists. Cycling and Twitter go hand in hand with as much as symbiosis as cycling pairs with coffee (…except for my comrade from the women’s Cervelo TestTeam who told me this very morning that she “doesn’t enjoy coffee in the morning.” I was flabbergasted. If not the morning, when do you drink it – nighttime?!).
Before I begin, I offer an emphatic, You’re welcome. Transgressions to these rules stand out like a hybrid Mapei-Astana cycling kit; the word clash doesn’t even begin to do justice to the cycling tweets injustices witnessed with regularity. There is a very good chance some of you will feel disparaged when you see what I have to say. Yet, following these simple steps are like a life preserver tossed to the floundering swimmer – fear not, friends, the King of Style is here offering hope and promise for a positive and productive Twittering future.
Without further ado, I bring you the King of Style’s Cycling Rules of Twitter.*
1 — As KoS has stated in the past in reference to emails and texts, faces are always disallowed. In my twenty-six years on planet Earth, I have found myself in no more than three circumstances ever where I have felt the desire to use a text face. In each situation, I allowed myself roughly seven more seconds of thought, and thereby found a simple alternative. You should too.
2 — No abbreviations unless they’re original. ROTFL? Really… you’re going to tell me with a straight face that you are literally rolling around on the floor laughing? No you’re not, you liar. Alternatively consider an original abbreviation like BDC, short for bomb dot com. The irony here is excellent because an abbreviation like BDC is not yet mainstream, so when lobbed out there in casual discourse it confuses the recipient. Once mainstream, however, it should cease being used and you should look for an alternative once again. I definitely recommend GIAW (giving it a whirl).
3 — A follow up to the above rule, as stated in the past, WTF-(adjective) is one of the few continually acceptable abbreviations. Example, “That was a WTF-good buffet, yo! We slayed that.”
4 — Word-shortening for the sake of using <140 characters is acceptable. Example: “though” becomes “tho.” If the word is already short, however, then you should never shorten it unless you are restricted by the 140 character rule. “You” only rarely must become “u” and “see” rarely is “c”. If you’re short for space then just use multiple tweets (three or fewer are recommended) in rapid succession. Remember, you’re tweeting, not writing a doctoral thesis.
5 — Read your Tweets before you publish them. There is NO deleting them once they’re published. I will readily admit, I’ve screwed this one up more than once.
6 — Your name isn’t Hume or Plato or Descartes, is it? Then don’t get too philosophical.
7 — Any chance to practice humor is acceptable. (However, see subsequent rule.) Witty, dry humor is the most preferable, but toughest to administer, so be sure you have a strong handle of it before using it with reckless abandon.
8 — Political correctness trumps all. Insulting slurs should never be used. As I just said, once published, your tweet is out there forever. Presumably, you don’t want to come across as a bigot, so if you have a distaste for a certain creed, nationality, sexual orientation, or race keep it to yourself. I truly wish this need not be stated, but it does.
9 — Be courteous with your two-way conversations. There is a time and place for Direct Messages so tediously uninteresting conversations should be kept out of the public.
10 — (Yet somewhat conversely to the above rule…) speaking highly of yourself is absolutely fine. I’ve posed the question in the past, what is self-promotion if it’s not shameless?
11 — Silence is golden. Less is more. Cliché expressions are awesome… Look, long story short: don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting. If you have something to say, say it. If you type something out, however, and as you’re reading it back to yourself before hitting the Tweet button – as I just taught you to do – you find it boring, abort the tweet. If you find it dull the rest of us will find it even worse.
12 — Don’t take pictures of just your freshly shorn legs or robust tan lines. Although strange, people inherently have an affinity for garishly vile pictures, so if your skin is literally boiling from being sunburned, snap that picture with an appropriate warning tweet. If not, no one cares about a mere color contrast.
13 — If you’re a dude, don’t take shirtless pictures of yourself. Cyclists are vain. We’re not that vain though. If you’re a woman, umm…
15 — Speaking of vain, perhaps you recently returned home from a hot ride and your legs look like a road map with veins roped abundantly throughout. See how your girlfriend doesn’t care whatsoever? Neither do the rest of us. Abort tweet.
* If I’ve insulted anyone with this post, you have a few options moving forward. You can be pissed off, angrily believe that KoS has a holier than thou mindset, and continue along on your misinformed Twittering ways – you certainly have every right to do that. Another option is to put your tail between your legs, acknowledge that the KoS is actually quite correct here, and use this as the educational seminar that it’s intended to be.
Whenever I see a failure of the aforementioned rules, I generously offer my services in the form of a Direct Message to you. I never publicly call anyone out by name, and for that you should be rapturous (yup, I used my thesaurus to find that word). Remember the You’re welcome that I started this blog post with? Charitably accept it.