the types of tweets

a guide

One could say that, if they wanted. This past week, Lil Nas X, the musician, released “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” in which he hangs out with the devil and then kills the devil to become the devil himself. He’s selling some satanic, modded Nikes to go along with it. It’s classic Satanic Panic bait and everyone you thought would be dumb enough to fall for it fell for it.

Lil Nas X is “good at Twitter.” Many people say this and it’s true. He’s good at posting. In fact, one might say his first hit single’s success is partially attributable to an online audience he built by posting a lot before he’d even recorded a single lyric. Others might also say he’s “extremely online,” a descriptor that I think unhelpfully exoticizes standard, mainstream behavior and is roughly as helpful as saying a high school student is “extremely in class” or a dolphin is “extremely underwater.”

There are many different ways to be good at posting. For instance, the former president was good at posting because he was unpredictable and so blunt and unsubtle that it kinda knocked you off-balance. I think a lot of what think of as “good at Twitter” is merely about subverting expectations to get attention. A president who sends unhinged tweets at 5 a.m., musicians who say stuff that appears to not be PR handler-approved, a fast-food brand tweeting about clinical depression and self-care. Stunts, in other words.

What make Lil Nas X different, in my view, is that he’s a lot more versatile, and there’s a variety to his approach. One that can be inherently understood as someone adapting on the fly and deploying different strategies as needed. It’s not a brute force approach, or a stubborn one. It’s very canny.

Some might be tempted to call what follows a “taxonomy” or a “glossary” or whatever; it’s just a list.

intentional lameness

One of the best ways to let someone online know that you are not interested in talking to them is to say the lamest possible comeback. Like, these are so lazy and bad that they instantly convey not defensiveness, or anger, but genuine boredom. This is literally posting the first thing that pops into your head.

reposting what people think are Ws but are actually Ls

These posts are like if someone saying that they are “not mad, and in fact, laughing” was actually tellign the truth. You happily post people overreacting, to show how cool and chill you are.

the grand scheme of things

This is a close relative of whataboutism that people deploy online to deflect controversy. Whataboutism is usually about hypocrisy, but ‘the grand scheme of things’ is more about just blocking someone’s view with something nobody in their right mind would try to diminish. “Oh, you think this is bad? Is is worse than genocide?”

you, a serious person, are getting mad at me, a clown

Simple self-deprecation, with the added flair of using your attackers own sense of self-importance against them. If you are so important, why do you care about me? This is kinda like suicide bombing — taking yourself down to expose how weird it is that people consider you an enemy at all.

by your logic

As a general rule, I think doing “by your logic” traps are corny, but the rules are different when you are a national celebrity with a wide variety of followers. Some people, those who do not follow online communication trends closely, appreciate a gotcha. Sometimes you have to toss them a few.

the fakeout

I like this one a lot because it’s obviously not a real apology, but he went through the effort of uploding it to YouTube, rather than putting it on Twitter natively, and he made a generic “I’m sorry” thumbnails for it. It’s that kind of attention to detail that attracts web-literate followers and also ropes dopes.

wholesome content

It’s easy but it works!

just posting solid jokes and obvious trolling

Again, it’s easy but it gets the job done.

fake baby

I’ll be honest: I did not expect Lil Nas X to pull out a “woke toddler” tweet. That’s a conversational tactic borne out of Resistance Twitter and other heavily unironic sectors of the site, so to see it deployed at this scale is genuinely impressive. The quick explanation is a parent makes up their small child saying something far above their age level in order to prove some sort of point. You gotta hand it to him here.


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