The art of the vague tweet

Over the past few years, as I’ve become more and more engrossed in the twittering world, I’ve noticed a technique develop amongst various luminaries and gurus which I’ve now officially named: the Vague Tweet.

What is the “vague tweet”?
Let us start with what it isn’t. It isn’t saying anything, for starters. Or rather, everything that it is saying is contained in what it isn’t saying. Perhaps an example will help to uncrease your forehead.

“Wow. What an incredible day! And it’s only going to get better!”

These are not, contrary to what you’d imagine, the words of a 13-year old teenager about to get laid. Instead, this is the lingua franca, if you will, of the digital gurus and startup rockstars who live amongst us.

I made that one up, a montage of my Twitter memories. But these two are real (in fact, they’re from today):

“I love it when a good plan comes together …”

“watching a really awesome graph… rapidly increase!”

Now, I am as riveted by the general positive emotional state of my industry peers as much as the next guy, which is to say not very much, but I think we need to analyse the Vague Tweet a little deeper to understand its true significance. I would like to propose a threefold analytical tool for our purposes here.

1. Rewrite as the opposite
Assuming that people are lying is a nasty way to live. However, it’s a rather useful strategy when it comes to people marketing products. For people marketing *themselves*, it graduates to essential.

So, let’s rewrite one of these tweets to its opposite:

“Crap. Not such an incredible day! And it’s probably going to get worse from here”
Now, there are two things to note here. Firstly, we have uncovered a sub-class of the Vague Tweet known as the “Woeful Vague Tweet”. These are not uncommon. However they occur more frequently in the “personal twitterer” sphere where one gets credit for suffering from depression. Web entrepreneurs and digerati are never depressed. They’re always ROCKING, BABY!

The second thing to realise is that the truth is situated somewhere midway between the original Vague Tweet and the Woeful Vague Tweet. Bottom line: the f*$#ing day is average, but in order to feel good about myself I have to pump it up. FTW!

2. Delete adjectives and adverbs
In our quest to make sense of the Vague Tweet, we must, for its own good, diminish its extravagance. No better way than to remove these two offending grammatical trespassers. So…

“Watching a really awesome graph…rapidly increase!”


“Watching a graph…increase!”

Aha! Now we see this tweet for what it is, don’t we? A mindless piece of vapid garbage shovelled directly from a tedious moron to their increasingly regretful followers. Or, applying the aforementioned rule: a piece of garbage shovelled from a moron to their followers.

3. Basic psychology
Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Why would someone say this kind of thing in public? And why not be specific?

Two words: basic psychology. What they have to share, laid bare, is so inane that no-one would actually care. By constructing the Vague Tweet one creates a wholly new emotion for the Twitter age: Vague Jealousy. The Vague Tweeter wants his or her audience to ENVY him or her. To bask in the tepid glow of partial admiration.

Hey, it’s a poor substitute for the real thing, but if it’s the best you can rustle up, then maybe it’ll have to do.



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