Are You a Real Time Idiot? A Racing Rat on Steroids? A Twitter Zombie?

Blue Eyed Zombie by Josh Jensen

After spending two years on Twitter, participating almost daily there, I have noticed a gradual change in user behavior. It seems that many of us, including me are becoming real time idiots. Another tendency is to become racing rats on steroids. Last but not least some people become Twitter zombies.

This post is not just another rant. Let me explain what I mean by all those derogative terms. Also

let me explain how to deal with the situation

without giving up Twitter altogether. I still believe that it can be a valuable tool for business people. In case you are new to Twitter read my posts on Twitter pros and cons and ways to use Twitter first.

The faster the Web becomes the less we can cope with it. No surprise here. It’s important to recognize how it changes us though. Social networking in real time is in a way information overload all the time. Even after more than 12 years on the Web it’s difficult for me to manage the incessant influx of messages, news and media.

Scientists have shown that a more of information does not mean more knowledge or even more wisdom.

The opposite is the case. Just image a 100 people shouting at you at the same time. You won’t understand anyone of them most of time. From time to time you will be able to discern what the loudest of them is shouting. The more people and media shout at us the less we know. The huge onslaught of in ost cases worthless or faulty information makes you a real time idiot.

Many people attempt to keep up nonetheless. They have Twitter clients on their mobiles to be able to tweet and read tweets everywhere and all the time. They drink caffeine all the time to stay awake, or worse they take drugs a generation ago were used to stay awake while dancing all night.

Only a few can make it in the digital rat race.

We call them early adopters or power users but those positive connotations are only half of the truth. You have to get up early and have enough power to stay in the race. You have to become a racing rat on steroids but the bots will always be faster than you.

Some people of course realized real time means an info overdose. They know they can’t cope. There are basically two kinds of Twitter zombies apart of course of the metaphorical use of the term for people who like like zombies after a long day of social media toil. The one kind of Twitter zombies are basically cyborgs. They have no implants and such but they are cyborgs.

Cyborgs claim to be human but they’re Twitter accounts are in many cases complete automated. So at first you think a real person is following you, tweeting your link or retweeting your tweet. Then you notice that they are not. They match keywords they retweet and follow you based on those. They insert RSS feeds into their timeline and link to your post without ever reading them. They send DM (direct messages) automatically.

The other kind of Twitter zombies are those who have abandoned Twitter by and large but they keep their old account. They follow 20, 50 or 100 people instead of the 2000, 5000 or 10k they followed yesterday. Still they keep most of their followers. You can’t detect them as easily as the cyborgs because they look even more like humans and keep quite most of the time until they broadcast to their audience once again. I call them hollow men. They aren’t real on Twitter anymore even if they have real people behind them in real life.

Many people by now advocate the so called social media suicide. Deleting all your profiles to get away and reclaim their lives. That may be a solution for some or even many but I don’t want to go back to living in cages. I’m for progress. The only question is the right direction for that progress and to find the way of course to go there.

So I still want to use Twitter as a business tool but I don’t want to become a real time idiot, a racing rat on steroids or a Twitter zombie.

As I read several self improvement and personal development blogs from time to time I’m familiar with

  • decluttering
  • time management
  • working smart instead of hard
  • focusing

techniques which help me survive the real time frenzy unscathed. Of course the most important tool is common sense. So let me outlöine a few basic techniques to help you cope wit Twitter and other real time Web applications.

Don’t use and try everything.
Believe me or mot but it’s 2010 and I still don’t use Facebook. I’m on Twitter only and fro time to tie LinkedIn just as much as to keep my profile alive. You have to focus on one medium or up to 5 for different purposes but you don’t need 5 social sites for social networking at the same time.

Perform one task at at time on one medium at a time.
Imagine making a phone call, chatting online and writing an email at the same time. It doesn’t work. While you still may need a phone, an IM app and an email client you will go crazy being available all the time on all channels. I make appointments to chat via Skype. In case we need to talk I or th eperson on the other end calls. I write one email per recipient per day. I check my email once daily. This is also the best way to deal with Twitter. Check it once daily unless you use it for actual productive work like I sometimes do.

Use advanced tools.
To sort the wheat from the chaff these days you can’t solely rely on your brain. It’s too much to cope. There are advanced tools tools there that can help. advanced does not mean complicated. They literally advance you. Some of the tools are:

A combination all three of them works great for me. For instance I do not follow the people and sources I need to follow for my client blogs. I have them organized in lists based on the topics I write about or optimize for. I check the lists only when needed. Also I use Twitter lists to organize the people I follow from the SEO, social media and blogging spheres. For instance you may wonder why I retweet hours or days old tweets of yours. Everybody knows that the attention span on Twitter is more or less minutes usually. You are probably on my “best friends” list. Also I will look up what’s popular on Topsy and search for SEO related tweets. Last but not least I read the Twittertimes, a “newspaper” that collects news suggested by people I follow and their friends.

Unfollow people, the right people.
While unfollowing 99% of people might work for some hollow men it’s like throwing aw most of your precious relationships. You still should unfollow some people or should I say accounts to miniize the work load associated with Twitter.

  • Unfollow heavy hitters tweeting 20+ links a day. Nobody can follow these anyways.
  • Unfollow people who never reply or retweet. One way communication is like talking to a wall.
  • Unfollow one way accounts that only broadcast their blog entries.
  • Unfollow cyborgs and hollow men.

Organize them in lists or in your RSS reader instead if you want to keep some of them.

To keep both your sanity and credibility you have to actively prevent becoming a real time idiot, racing rat on steroids and Twitter zombie. Don’t try to be the

  • most prolific
  • fastest
  • or loudest

to get noticed. You’ll end up being a wreck like Jason Calacanis or Dereke Powazek who have to piss of people to stay a celebrity. Prefer substance over boldness.

Strive for being the

  • most trustworthy
  • friendly
  • or straighforward

person on Twitter in your trade, industry or niche. Bot visits on websites do not count as visitors. Bot followers on Twitter do not count either. Real time idiots, racing rats on steroids and Twitter zombies are almost as bad as bots.

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