In general, Twitter is superb. I use it for work, and I love it. As with anything, of course, there are minor aspects that'll make you want to spike your phone/computer into the pavement. But there are incredibly simple actions you can take to minimize the amount of Bad Twitter you have to endure.
Stop following people you don't like. Unfollow them. Do it, you idiot. Hate-reading is a perfectly fine practice, but there's a line. A friend, who I will call Lyle, has a Twitter list of users he hates. Lyle has an unhealthy problem, and he's beyond saving.
But what if the person you don't like has something important to say? Find a person (or several people) in the same field who has a habit of occasionally retweeting them. For example, take Keith Law. Keith is an incredibly intelligent person, but he can occasionally be a pugnacious penis. (We all have our days.) By not following him, but following other people who cover baseball, I usually catch anything insightful Keith says, without having to endure the times when he publicly makes fun of dumb trolls who are definitely not worth his time. I get my useful information, and nothing more.
Here's the thing about Twitter: You can follow or unfollow someone as many times as you want. There's no limit or process for following a public Twitter account. You're not locked in forever. If the person gets better, you can follow them again.
Don't be worried about their feelings. It's Twitter. It doesn't matter. Now, if you cut ties with them on Facebook or lose their number, you clearly never want to talk to that fucking person again, but Twitter shouldn't matter.
Don't care about who follows you. Oh, you both follow each other, so you don't want to have him or her unfollow you? Grow up. You make me sick.
Use the mute button. Are you really too much of a baby to unfollow people you simply don't enjoy? Mute them. Man, the mute option is so good. Twitter gave you the power to be Tony Reali and shut up your equivalent of Bill Plaschke—use it. They will never know. It's perfect.
Don't check Twitter so much. Familiarity breeds contempt. The more you read a person's tweets, the more you pick up on the opinions you hate, especially if that person has a habit of oversharing. Stop feeling required to read the whole of everyone's timelines; that way, it'll take you longer to get annoyed with anyone in particular.
Stop arguing with people. There are maybe 10 people on Twitter who are funny enough to get in an argument without looking like a child. You're probably not one of them. You're going to show your ass. If something really makes you mad, mute the person, or close Twitter and go do something else. If you still need to be on a computer, relax and watch this video:
Do you feel better? I do.
Try and take at least one day a week where you don't tweet. This day is usually Saturday for me. Saturdays rarely have anything interesting going on. Maybe you're more invested in college football than me, which is fine: Find another day of the week, and do your best to just totally ignore Twitter (or the internet, if you can get that far) for 24 hours.
Tweet less. If you don't think you could go a whole day without Twitter, try setting a general pitch count. That entry box is tempting, but remember: No one needs your opinion. They'll totally be fine without it. Twitter doesn't stop working if people don't pump their takes into it. You don't need to weigh in for every thing that happens in the world. It's okay. Take a rest.
You can still enjoy a healthy spectrum of opinions this way. I follow plenty of people on Twitter despite rarely agreeing with them. It's healthy to see other perspectives. The trick: These people are not insufferable to me. There are people on Twitter who can calmly share their opinions. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But they're real, so find them.
This advice might seem obvious, but hey, you're the one who wanted help. I follow these tenets, and I'm happy, so try it out. Or don't. What do I care? You're the one who read this. Fuck you.
Adequate Man is Deadspin's new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.
Image by Jim Cooke.