We all have to find ways to manage our social-media lives. I have a few rules about engaging with other people, developed over the past several years, which I hold to pretty firmly, though not with absolute consistency.
1) If on Twitter or in blog comments you’re not using your real name, I won’t reply to you.
2) I never read the comments on any post that appears on a high-traffic online site, even if I have written it.
3) I have Twitter set up so that I typically see replies only from people I follow. Every once in a while I may look through my replies, but honestly, I try not to. So if you’re asking me a question on Twitter, I will either never see it or, probably, will see it only some days or weeks after you’ve asked.
4) If I happen to see that you have tweeted me-wards but I don’t know you, I will probably not reply.
Why do I follow these rules? Because my experiences in conversing with strangers online have been about 95% unpleasant. Especially as one reaches what the French call un certain âge, cutting unnecessary losses — conserving intellectual and emotional energy — becomes more important than creating new experiences. At least how that’s how it’s been for me. This is unfortunate for, and perhaps unfair to, people who want to engage constructively; but y’all are greatly outnumbered by the trollish, the snarky, those who reply to things they haven’t read, and the pathologically contentious. And in the limited time I have to spend on social media, I prefer to nurture relationships I already have.
I’ve said some of these things before, but since in the past week I’ve received three why-didn’t-you-answer-my-tweet emails, I thought it might be worthwhile to say them again.