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A few days ago I Tweeted, in a roundabout sort of a way, that I preferred Ayn Rand to Gillian Flynn.  Some stranger re-Tweeted that breaking news (not) to eighteen thousand of her followers.  I can’t really imagine any of them give a shit about my literary preferences.

Then I saw a limited-character note from a fellow Twitterer regarding how many people had recently followed and unfollowed her in the Twittersphere. She got the information via Unfollowers.com and I knew I had to have a peek.

I don’t want to waste my time — there’s only so much of it — obsessing about who follows me and who unfollows me and who likes me on Twitter (or any social media platform).  But I installed the Unfollowers app and checked it out yesterday evening.

There it was, the list of people who had — in a span of less than twenty-four hours — decided to follow me and subsequently change their minds.  One of them has (had?) something on the order of forty-seven thousand — that’s right: thousand — followers.  Many of them follow thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Twitterers.

I asked myself a question.

How can you follow thirty-thousand people on Twitter?  And why on earth would you want to?

Okay.  Those were two questions.  See?  I can count.  All the way up to two.

At the moment, I’ve got a paltry 95 Twitter peeps (some are organisations) on my list.  I like it — 95 seems a nice number.  And I think I’ll keep things that way.

Translation?  I probably won’t be following you back just for the sake of following you back.

I don’t say that to hurt your feelings.  But if your curious as to why I’m not skulking around Twitter clicking that shiny blue-and-white ‘Follow’ button, here’s my rationale:

1.  Judiciousness

Yep, I use Twitter (and Facebook and LinkedIn) with purpose.  What I want from Twitter is simple:  news and updates about the things I care about (in Twitter’s case, the thing I care about is writing — and only writing).  My Tweets are apolitical, secular, and don’t involve pictures of cuddly emergency kittens.  I simply don’t have the time for that stuff, provocative and entertaining as it might be to some.

2.  Selectivity

My comrades-in-Tweetness are people I care about.  I choose them in the same way I’ve cherry-picked my friends over many decades on this earth.  Think of it as a quality-over-quantity MO of mine:  if I follow you, it means you add value to my life.  It means you’re special.  And I want you to feel special, so I keep the list small.  Because, after all, if everyone is special, then really no one is.  As it stands now, 25 out of the 95 Tweeps I’m following are folks I have a personal, writing-related relationship with outside of the Twitterverse.  I like that.

3.  Logistics

Imagine 40,000 different voices chattering away at you over the course of a day.  I’m asking you to imagine it, because I cannot.  One husband and one attention-craving dog and a few phone calls and emails add up to quite enough distraction, thank you very much.

4.  Non-hypocrisy

Let’s be realistic:  if you had multiple tweets on your feed from 40,000 people each day, what would you do?  You’d mute some of them, right?  Maybe you’d mute a lot of them.  I know I would — if only to retain some shred of sanity.  Or, as an alternative, you could simply never open up Twitter.  That’d work, too.

Both of these Twitter-management practices, if you have a think about it, boil down to one thing: saying X and doing Y.  Because following a ‘follow’ with a ‘mute’ isn’t really following, is it?

If reading this makes you want to hit that Unfollow button, I won’t take it personally.  Someone close to me has said it better than I can:

“No amount of social media presence will ever compensate for having written a crappy book.”

I think I’ll stop the chirping for now and get a bit of writing done.

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