Every few days, I stumble upon an article that declares: “Here are the rules for Twitter!” I read through each of them and think, “Why do these rules have to be so complicated?”
I mean, think about it. Twitter is simply a way to communicate with other human beings. And we learned how to do that back in kindergarten.
In fact, we learned most of it in the sandbox.
I thought back to my sandbox days and realized the rules of the sandbox are the same rules of Twitter.
1. If you won’t share with others, others won’t share with you.
You’ve got a really cool, bright red fire truck, huh? But you won’t let any other the other kids see it? Well, don’t expect Tommy to let you play with his awesome dump truck.
Learn to share. That’s rule number 1 in Twitter. If you want other people to share valuable information with you, you’ve got to do the same for them.
2. Throw sand and you’ll go straight to time out.
There are so many people on Twitter just throwing sand. You may call them trolls. They usually disagree and argue and annoy just for the sake of it.
Don’t do this. If you do, people won’t talk to you. Everyone will ignore you and put you in the timeout box.
3. Crying makes you look like a wussy.
Too many people use Twitter as a way to complain: “No one is following me.” “No one is responding to me.” “My life sucks.”
I remember the kid in my kindergarten class who would cry every day for absolutely no reason. No one ever talked to him.
If you go on Twitter and start complaining, no one will talk with you.
4. There are other people in the sandbox.
One kid, Roger, would hang out on the jungle gym and get angry if any other kids climbed onto it. He said it was his and his alone.
A few months ago, I replied to a girl I didn’t know who posted an interesting tweet. She replied back to me, angry that I had @ replied her. “How dare you reply to something I post.”
She’s like Roger. She thinks she owns her own area of Twitter. Uh uh. Both the sandbox and Twitter are open. If you want your own play area, go home. If you want messages no one can reply to, don’t post on Twitter.
(Or, protect your tweets but then I’ll never know you’re there.)
5. If you dig far enough, you’ll reach China.
I spent most of my days digging. I usually got pretty far, but I’d always hit the wet sand and just couldn’t break through it. But I’m still pretty sure it’s possible to dig to China.
With Twitter, I know it’s possible. Don’t just connect with people you know. Find new people. Talk to people in other countries, in other careers, other religions. It’s a way for you to discover the world. Take advantage of it.
6. The big kids will ignore you.
It’s day 1 of my Twitter account. I decide to send Bill Gates a tweet. I can’t wait to talk with him. 1 week later, he still hasn’t replied. I think it’s been over 2 years and still no reply.
That’s just the hierarchy. There are big kids and little kids. Big kids don’t always talk to the little kids. But one day, we, the little kids, will be the big kids also. At that point, they’ll start talking with us. It just takes time and patience.
7. Use your imagination.
I turned the school sandbox into my secret lair for me and my friends. We were rat superheroes, born from some strange experiment. We drove an awesome van around fighting crime. And we kept it parked under the sandbox. But no one else knew about it…not the school, not the other kids. Just us, the rat superheroes.
But, tell any teacher about our secret lair and she’d say it’s just a sandbox.
Some people will say Twitter is just a place to say what you ate for lunch. Really though, it’s anything you want it to be. It’s a place to find instantaneous news, a place to tell funny jokes, and a place to connect with like-minded people.
All that is required is some imagination.
See you all out in the sandbox.