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:
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.
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.
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.
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.