Friday, October 2, 2009

Antisocial networking: why I enjoy annoying random people on Twitter

In this edition of Alana G Haters, we honor Twitter users @Zanders and @Elizabeth who have recently blocked me.

My sense of humor can be a little mean-spirited sometimes. I once went on a date with a guy who told me earnestly, "I would never have a laugh at someone else's expense." In response I laughed in his face. Hey, I respect if that's how you want to live your life, but don't expect me to. I don't think I'm ever mean for the sake of being mean -- I'm mean for the sake of humor. If I see a downtrodden homeless person wearing crazy clothes, I won't joke about that. But if some asshole hipster walks by in a needlessly silly outfit... well, that calls for a joke. Not everyone will find my jokes funny, but if you don't like my humor, you don't have to be friends with me.

OH SNAP but there's the rub, because on social networking sites like Twitter, I can still hang out in your social circle even if you don't want me there. And if you're a happy-go-lucky person who naively thinks everyone else is super-friendly, I might try to annoy you with my silly antics. Just for poops and giggles.

The only real way to protect yourself from outsiders on Twitter is to make your tweets private so that only approved people can follow you. But that's no fun -- you're a friendly, popular person and you love the fact that you can get 692 people following you. Most people leave their Twitter feeds open, and frankly those people are asking to be bothered.

So the other day I decided to stir some things up with unsuspecting Twitter users @Zanders and @Elizabeth. I don't know either of them, but I had just started following Zanders and he retweeted this message from Elizabeth:

"Never let great be the enemy of good." A good decision made quickly is far better than a great decision made slowly.

First of all, this is terrible advice. Sure, a quick decision is useful in many cases: should I pee now or later, which flavor donut should I steal from the office next door, what's my best escape route from this burning building, etc. But a well-reasoned great decision is "far better" in many other cases: who should I marry, which car should I buy, should I retweet this piece of garbage advice, etc. The original context-free tweet by Elizabeth was annoying enough, but then I saw that multiple people in addition to Zanders had blindly retweeted it.

So I decided to retweet it and express my disagreement. And then my good Twitter pal @Oopspow retweeted. And then we started a little Twitter meme whereby every important question on Twitter was directed to Zanders and Elizabeth for a "quick decision." Which Eddie Murphy stand-up routine is better, "Delirious" or "Raw"? Better ask Zanders and Elizabeth for a quick decision! What should the Senate do about asbestos? Better get Zanders and Elizabeth on the case asap! A few more of my Twitter pals started getting in on the action. The result was that Zanders' and Elizabeth's @-reply feeds were flooded with dozens of our silly jokes.

That's hilarious to me. As Oopspow remarked, there were probably better things we could spend our time on, but at that moment we couldn't think of any.

Now if Zanders and Elizabeth had interacted with us and laughed at the whole thing, we would have all had a little chuckle and then lost interest. But instead they ignored us. So we kept doing it. And then they both BLOCKED us. Haters get on your job! A silly, passive-aggressive action like blocking me only motivates me to annoy you more.

You see, if they had done their homework, they would have realized that blocking really accomplishes very little on Twitter. Sure, I can no longer conveniently follow Zanders and Elizabeth from my blocked account. But I'm still following them in my TweetDeck from one of my benign alter-ego accounts. Even if they block my other account, I can still view their Tweets on their profile page, or subscribe to them by RSS. More importantly, I can still jam them with silly @-replies all day long! And now that I realize they've blocked me, I'm even more motivated to do so. Why? Maybe to prove a point (my Twitter c*ck is bigger than yours). But mostly just because it's even funnier than before. When it stops being funny, I'll stop doing it.

Writing this whole post does make me wonder if I'm being mean to Zanders and Elizabeth, who don't seem to be enjoying the attention. But maybe they don't care at all about my silliness. Perhaps some of you can send them @-replies asking for their thoughts on the subject. Don't forget to CC me: @alana_g.

P.S. I got a most unexpected message while writing this post:

Those of you who have followed the Alana G Haters series will get a kick out of that one -- @nikidandrea appears to be our old friend the "reporter" from the Phoenix New Times. If you don't know who she is, you can read my February 2009 dismantling of Niki D'Andrea. Zanders and Elizabeth, you may be in luck -- something shiny and new has caught my eye in Twittertown!

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