Friday, January 11, 2013

The Twitter Confessional

I don't buy it when people say online friendships are not "real." I have plenty of online friendships that have developed into real life friendships; there is a lot of fluidity and crossover. I love to meet "twitter peeps" when I'm traveling to conferences and the like. In fact, some of the people I like most in the world are ones that I met online first.

I talk to the people inside the twitterbox more than, well, anyone else besides the dog. And probably because I'm chatty, I do tend to feel like I KNOW these people. Like, personally know them. Even the ones I don't know personally at all. Maybe I just have a clingy personality or something - or maybe it is natural that humans like to make connections. I don't know. Who am I, Oliver Sacks? (No.)

So my confession is: A few times I've noticed that people I follow and admire on twitter (and in some cases, even have met or know IRL) don't follow me, or worse, have unfollowed me. And it causes me a sharp pain not unlike grief. Micro-grief, if you will.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS.

If you've ever felt this twinge of micro-grief when you realize somebody isn't following you... SNAP OUT OF IT.  If you've ever gotten upset that somebody didn't retweet you or respond to you... GET OVER IT.  If you expect "auto-follows" or that somebody should follow or always converse with you or RT you or whatever just because you follow them... GTFO.

Everyone uses twitter in different ways. MOST people are not on there 15 hours a day like I am (because it is in the corner of my screen while I am working, which is almost always). Some people only want to follow a very small number of folks, or people they know IRL, or nobody they know IRL, or whatever. Some people have strict limits with themselves about how often they can check in, and so limit their "follow list" to ones they can keep up with easily. Some people unfollow people who tweet too much, or who curse, or post pet pictures, or don't post pet pictures, or who only talk about books, or who never talk about books, or who the hell knows.

The point is, how other people choose to use it or not use it is not a judgement about us, and is also not our beezwax.

If you're only following somebody because you have the expectation they'll follow you back, you're doing yourself a disservice. Yes, twitter is a lot about conversations and connections... but you can't control what other people do. And vice-versa. So hey, feel free to keep following people you enjoy and have the bandwidth for... and stop following if you don't want to anymore. No need to make a big to-do about it. No need to announce it to anyone. It's not an insult to not follow somebody or to stop following somebody, it's just you choosing how to spend your own time and energy.

Spend it well! 

17 comments:

  1. Oh gosh! I know! I felt even a tinge of a tear the other day when someone I deeply respect on Twitter unfollowed me.

    "What did I do?!" I moaned. "I must have clogged up his feed! I must have said something stupid!" And I searched and searched my timeline, but found nothing overtly offensive--which was actually worse than finding a culprit.

    And then I realized it was Twitter and it doesn't matter at all. But it does, to some peer-acceptance-seeking part of my brain. Hard to deny that.

    Good post. Good words of wisdom.

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    1. I hear you. I just content myself with imagining that they ACCIDENTALLY unfollowed - a bug in the system! ;-)

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  2. Oh good, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels invested in some aspects of twitter. When awesome productive people I pay attention to follow me on Twitter I get some kind of warm fuzzies.

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  3. I never read my Timeline. I just can't subject myself to so much static and noise and fighting and pet pics. Too distracting. I don't follow a lot of people back because my reason for being on Twitter is to talk to the people who want to talk to me. I only read @ replies.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Tiffany Reisz

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    1. Me too on the @replies, mostly. When I first log on I'll look at my timeline - like at the first page that appears - and if something is interesting, will dive in. But I certainly don't scroll backwards and READ it. That would be a nightmare, I follow like a brazillion people! ;)

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  4. Yes, people connect! I felt bad for you when you were stranded (my word, not yours) in Lancaster following Fall Fest. My ride and I split when the conference ended.

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  5. Also, Twitter has developed a nasty habit wherein it tries to decide who you should be friends with, so it unfollows people without permission. Then like a day later, it's all "Oh, look at your suggested follower list. Doesn't that person look friendly?" And it's added the people it unfollowed into your suggestions.

    Very, very annoying.

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  6. I'm new to Twitter and get really worried that I don't know the etiquette! I don't want to follow everyone who follows me. I tend to follow writers and agents and people like that because they interest me, but other people I don't automatically follow without checking out their twitter stream first. I hadn't realised it even might be seen as offensive not to follow back! (Oh, but I follow you of course!)

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  7. Gah, I really do try not to let this stuff get to me. I don't mind not being followed back - I'm the same way in that I don't follow tons of people but basically just leave the Interaction tab open rather than my Timeline - but I have the hardest time not feeling stung by people who perpetually don't reply. Maybe my 2013 resolution will be to get the hell over it.

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  8. My twitter has randomly unfollowed friends for me before--and they asked, and I was glad they let me know! But, other than that, I rarely even look at who's following me. Unless they've asked me to DM. I can't follow everyone. I like READING the links people share, not watching my number go up. So I clean house all the time, so that I'm getting the conversations and info I want. Not for any other reason :)

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  9. I have made amazing friends, through twitter and online. Some of them know me best than anyone else. Pleople can think I'm crazy but you can really connect con people online.
    Of course you can't force anyone to follow or like you. But I think everyone wants to know why when someone unfollows, is human nature.
    Great post!
    Anabel

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  10. I keep a couple different private lists that allow me to catch up with the folks I enjoy following most. Rather than reading my timeline I read my @s and depending on my time I'll read the lists of folks who I love but consider infrequent posters & the just the most recent posts from my favorite tweeps. The best way for new people to get on my lists is to RT or @me. :-)

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  11. I have a confession too when agents respond to me via tweets I feel so stoked but that too I must get over because it doesn't mean that it will lead to me getting signed, I have had couple agents tell me via tweets to resend my mss when its polished but I realize they may forget me even if I mention it in the query, I agree with you how a person chooses to spend their energy on twitter is their choice and also the choice of the people that follow or choose to not follow them. Great post.

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  12. Best thing you can ever do is deactivate the "unfollow" option, so you never see it. Then you don't have to wonder WHY someone did that. Of course, I'm on tumblr the most, so I don't know if you can turn off notifications on twitter or not...

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  13. I like Twitter, but sometimes I feel really voyeuristic. Does anyone else? For example, I love following you, Jennifer, and I like all of the stories about your home and everything, but then I feel a little creepy because you don't know me and I know incredibly random things from your day-to-day world. I know that there are whole news networks and magazines devoted to supporting voyeurism of celebrity that have never intrigued me, but the lit world... I'm hooked. Does anyone else ever feel embarrassed for following people you don't know and enjoying it?

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  14. Dionna11:20 AM

    How do you figure out what people are talking about on Twitter? All I see is @somebody and maybe some squigglies then a few words. Is there more to these tweets than what meets the eye on the page?

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