This Whole Post is A Subtweet

There are moments on social media when you just know it’s time to shut up. Moments when the response is too complicated for Twitter, or when you don’t really know that person well enough to know if they’re capable of a calm discussion, or… let’s face it… that moment on Facebook when a friend offers you her left-over sperm-bank sperm, and there’s just no good way of saying “Your kids are the reason I don’t want kids. Also, Grandma, Grampa, and Aunt Bea-elzabub, I don’t want kids.”

Moments when you actually agreed with someone, and they are complaining about it.

Wait a minute… you did get that I was agreeing with you?

Oh, yes, it is time to shut up.

If you can annoy someone by agreeing with them in 140 characters or less, it is definitely time to shut up.

So, in the back of my mind, I’m still trying to think of the correct 14o character response for a complete stranger. It’s been one of those days where there’s burned-on stuff in my brain.

There’s no way any of it should matter. It’s not even a close Twitter friend.

So, the question becomes… how do you prevent–if not their irrational response–your own knee-jerk reaction to it in the future. I’m not going to remember which screen name it was. I’ve actually already forgotten. Which means there’s a fairly good chance that I might wander into the same trap all over again.

My solution–which may not be a one-size fits all–is to mute the person so they don’t appear in my Twitter timeline. I can still see them in their profile, and they can still talk to me directly, if they choose, but I don’t get the temptation to join conversations from their soapbox.

There are all kinds of things out there. You can find conversations, or lectures, or sermons… And then, there are those moments when you can sense that someone’s about to go into a full-on tailspin rant, and maybe they even hope you’ll be there so their internet mob can pile on, after.

Back off.

That’s really it. Don’t take a pounding just to add another comment, after you know you’re in a no-win situation. I like muting. It’s discrete. The other person doesn’t know you’ve done it, and it doesn’t interfere with you-specific messages.

The other option you have–a little more drastic–is blocking. The person isn’t allowed to see your tweets or your profile, and they aren’t allowed to contact you. But when they try to look at your profile, they get a statement telling them that they have been blocked, so it’s a little more… assertive.

I really don’t care whether this particular person knows where I eat my sandwich today, so I won’t wind up blocking. Just muting.


  1. Reply

    About the only thing I post to Twitter these days are announcements of new blog posts. I like it when there’s severe weather, because I can see what’s happening by people actually on the ground, not just staring at radar. Apart from that, I don’t use it much.

  2. Reply

    Ah, those conversations. Yep, I mute too.

    Thanks for explaining the difference between mute and block. I’d never really figured that out. In future, the question will be “how assertive am I feeling today?”

  3. Reply

    As the number of followers I have grows, I have found it necessary to begin using the mute function. Some conversation threads continue just so the participants can see how long they can keep it going. No one says anything interesting. I don’t need dribble filling up my feed so I mute.

    I unfollow people who continue to annoy me (on a given day anything can annoy me). I’ve never blocked anyone.

    • Reply

      I’m more of a lists kinda girl. I’m just getting started, but I keep track of outside communities with lists and think of my feed as more random.

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