|When it’s over, it’s over
In my last post I talked about the different schools of thought around following and following back on Twitter. And let me say that since that post, I’ve radically changed my own position on following. Due to a sudden great spewy glut of spammy followers–bots galore and people with whom I share precisely zero common interests–I’m now much more selective about whom I choose to follow back.
But that’s last post. This time around we’re going to take a look at the other end of the stick: the joys of unfollowing and the woes of being unfollowed.
You Don’t Love Me Anymore…
This whole unfollowing thing seems to be fraught with all manner of emotional baggage for some people, whether they’re being unfollowed or doing the unfollowing.
It feels personal. That’s the long and short of it. You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, so instead of giving them the old snip-snip, you skip over their tedious or obnoxious tweets for weeks and months, and you keep hoping they’ll drop you first. Finally one day they cross a line; they say something unendurably slap-worthy or promote their website/book/product for a relentless fifteen tweets in a row, and something snaps. Your Unfollow finger of doom goes clickety click, and you find yourself paddling about in an uncomfortable stew of guilt and relief. (The guilt dissipates very quickly, I promise you.)
And when someone cuts you loose, you’re all, Oh no! What did I say?Am I the obnoxious one now? Or worse: Am I not interesting/amusing/entertaining enough for someone to invest 20 seconds a day in reading my tweets??? OMG, I’m boring! How do I contain my WOE?
Because, let’s admit it, it stings a little when Tweeps whose company you’ve quite enjoyed decide to kick you to the curb. People who’ve been hanging around the Tweetosphere for a while will tell you, hey, don’t sweat it, it’s not personal.
But, you know what? It kind of is. And that’s not a bad thing.
Unless you’ve being unfollowed by a freakazoid bot or are one of the casualties of the recent big-name Tweeter mass-unfollow fests, chances are at least 50-50 you’ve being unfollowed because you’ve either said something that got right up someone’s nose or you consistently tweet about things the unfollower doesn’t especially care about. (Unless, of course, you’re one of the casualties of a Chris Broganesque mass unfollow, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether and not in the scope of this post.)
It’s just like real life. If someone bores, annoys, or offends you often enough, you’re going to start avoiding them. And if you bore, annoy, or offend someone else often enough, they’re going to start ducking into darkened doorways when they see you sashaying down the street.
It doesn’t mean that you are, in fact, boring, annoying or offensive–or at least not to everyone. It just means that someone who probably hasn’t been reading your tweets anyway will continue to not read them.
I don’t unfollow people very often, but I have done small culls from time to time, and once in a while I’ll respond to an egregiously offensive tweet by unfollowing its perpetrator forthwith. My personal unfollow triggers::
- Profanity. I don’t have a problem with the occasional sweary blurt, but a steady stream of vulgarity is tedious and not something I want to have smacking me in the face when I check my Twitter feed at work.
- Misogyny, racism, homophobia. I won’t necessarily wave bye-bye over one random sexist remark–although, then again, I have done–but I hear and see enough of that ugliness in real life without subjecting myself to it in my virtual life.
- No common ground. Sometimes I’ll follow someone back too precipitously. Ooh, new follower! Clicky-click on the little button of reciprocity and then, oops. Sorry, it’s not that I have anything against Catholic sexual well-being per se, but neither do I have any particular interest.
- Spam and unmitigated self-promotion. Enough said.
- Empire-building. I don’t know why this bothers me as much as it does, but I find it truly obnoxious when people follow, wait for a follow back and then unfollow, presumably to make themselves look more popular than they actually are. Are we really going to play that game? Snip snip. No, we’re not.
Next up: Retweeting, replying and DMs, oh my!