A crossed-out Twitter logo

“Did you see my Tweet?” A friend once asked me this and I reacted like he showed me a picture of his poop, which is sort of the same thing.

We all understand the Machiavellian utility of Twitter and social media in general, and many have to be on there for work. But it’s also a place that feels like a bathroom stall on a fiery barge about to ram into another fiery barge. Either way.

What beautifully undermines Twitter is that plenty of regular people aren’t on Twitter and don’t care about it, so when you mention it in the real world where I eat and sleep and don’t look at Twitter, you wrongly help the virus take human form. It’s like when Agent Smith became a real boy in The Matrix Trilogy.

When Worlds Collide

I remember when my friend first asked me whether I had seen his Tweet. Worlds collided, and I looked at him like Joe Pesci in Raging Bull when Deniro asks if he slept with his wife. “How could you ask me a question like that? I’m your friend. Where do you get your balls big enough to ask me that?” I said, a tear falling from my eye. Then I hit him over the head with a wireless router.

Twitter has its place: a place called the internet. It’s best left there. When anyone unironically asks in the real world if you saw their Tweet, they are crossing a sanctimonious boundary and essentially retweeting themselves in person, a Twitter feature I don’t remember signing up for. We’ve created an environment where many who Tweet think of themselves as an 18th Century king summoning their regent so they can write down their latest maxim on vellum and post it in the town square.

But it’s OK if no one saw your Tweet. No one needs to see any Tweet ever, and Twitter already has a system for letting you know if someone did.

If you’re asked this, it’s best to take an approach that embarrasses the person away from ever doing it again. Immediately grab the nearest stranger and ask them if they saw your friend’s Tweet. Yell the Tweet out the window and have it flown on a skywriter and burned onto the surface of the moon.

Or just walk away as they start asking, because if they think it’s acceptable to retweet in person, then it’s also fine to scroll right past it.

The Other Scenario

To be fair, not everyone displays this brazen level of narcissism, and the situation is sometimes reversed. Many Twitter users are entirely shocked if you mention their Tweet in person, as if you’re referencing a secret society that none dare speak of.

Worlds collide here in a different way. They almost feel violated and tend to respond with something like, “Oh, I didn’t think anyone was actually reading that.”

Twitter for them still feels a bit like a diary, and while literally every Tweet has a performative agenda, theirs tend to be a bit less so. Usually, after this interaction occurs, they scurry away and go take a cold shower, setting their Tweets to private, though that doesn’t last long.

In either case, asking if someone saw your Tweet or mentioning someone’s Tweet to them unsolicited is probably not a good idea. It’s like sticking your finger in an outlet. Much of social media already has too much purchase over the real world and the algorithms don’t need our additional in-person help.

Let Twitter reside at Twitter.com. If you must mention it in the real world, do it in the woods. But neither I nor How-To Geek is responsible if the trees crush you like the Ents in The Lord of the Rings.

Profile Photo for Chason Gordon Chason Gordon
Chason Gordon is a former staff writer and editor for How-To Geek. His writing has previously appeared in Slate, Vice, Input, and The Globe and Mail, among other publications.
Read Full Bio »