All too often, it seems like there's a full moon out when it comes to Twitter: People who use the microblogging service do some very strange things.
Since Twitter is such a new place for millions -- with many unwritten rules, nebulous social mores and unfinished codes of conduct -- it's sometimes fun to watch people act like they're working with half a Tweetdeck. These are my 10 favorite observations about today's Twitter Twilight Zone and those who enter it:
Sports Star "Hacked" Account Excuse: It's become as common as "the dog ate my homework" and as sincere as "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." The sports star goes off on some homophobic, racist or otherwise tasteless rant on Twitter -- and 12 hours later, whaddaya know! "Sorry, everybody, my account was hacked. No offense." Sure thing, guy.
Avatar Selection: I'll admit it: I use the "best photo possibly available" for my Twitter avatar. It's no Glamour Shot, but it's still the best I've got. But with some people's headshot you have to wonder: Really? That's the best you've got? You're not an ugly person, and that half-blurry image, with your hair all over the place and food stuck to the creases of your mouth, is the best photo possible? And then you have....
Is It Odyssey, Destiny or Brittany? The image of the woman is so risqué and tawdry that you figure that the account has got to be linked to some Russian hacker/malware group: And that's not a good thing, since she works at a PR firm in Atlanta. Might want to tone that one down, dear.
Love Me or Leave Me: You follow me. Then unfollow. Then you're back following me. Jeez! Glenn Close's character in "Fatal Attraction" didn't have this much emotional angst.
Foursquare Flop: Good God, we're sooooo close to having a Foursquare slip up ("I'm at Red Roof Inn 100 Main St. at 11:49am") become part of a divorce proceeding. So very, very close, people.
Twitter Influence Experts: "Influence" is not about the number of Twitter followers one has, these experts preach from their virtual pulpits. And yet when any Twitter systems hiccup or spam issue occurs and their follower count plummets, they are one of the first Twitter users to notice. Interesting how that works.
Playground Bully: By all accounts, you're a reasonable human being and satisfactory co-worker. Then you get on Twitter, and your inner-WWE-wrestler comes out -- unleashing tweet after tweet of bullying vitriol and outlandish hyperbole. You can just hear friends and neighbors saying to the TV cameras: "He seemed like such a nice guy. I'm shocked this happened."
Twitter Anonymous: You have no avatar image. You offer no bio. You protect your tweets. AND YOU WONDER WHY YOU HAVE NO FOLLOWERS! Hello, this ain't Bizzaro World, people. You do need to share a little bit.
John Mayer: One of his followers summed it up best: "John, most of the time I have no idea what you're talking about, but I can't stop following you." Hey, 3.7 million people (his followers) can't all be crazy?!
Larry the Late-Breaking News Guy: What's big news to this fellow (eight days after the event took place) is not to the rest of us anymore. We've moved on, but Larry hasn't. We know Mark Hurd left HP, Larry. We're now on to his legal exploits at Oracle, buddy.
Thomas Wailgum covers Enterprise Software, Data Management and Personal
This story, "10 Ways To Know You're in the Twitter Twilight Zone" was originally published by CIO.