I still love you, I just don’t follow you.

Lots of people on twitter today are using a service that shows you your first tweet and tweets it. I used my downloaded twitter archive to remember mine. Which is, fittingly, “Wasting time at work.” And then I noticed that March 31 it will have been seven years since I’ve been on twitter. Seven! Started me thinking about how I used Twitter back then and how I use it now.

I didn’t plan on starting conversations or even friendships using Twitter. I was just following some artists I liked. Then a few librarians randomly started following me and I became friends with them. Sadly, only one or two of the librarians from 2007 still tweet. Interesting aspect of Twitter, unlike other social networks, is how organically relationships will grow. It’s much more similar to how friendships begin in real life. Unfortunately, unlike in real life when you begin to leave an old life behind, they don’t go away unless you unfollow them. Which is a harsh measure as anyone on Twitter knows. Unfollowing someone isn’t the same as slowly drifting away from them. It’s saying “I don’t want to be your friend” which isn’t necessarily true.

Today I unfollowed a bunch of cool people, not because I like them any less than the day I followed them, but because my life is different now and the conversations I want to hear are being drowned out by those that aren’t strictly relevant to me. If I unfollowed you it’s because:

1) I don’t remember who you are. This sounds worse than it is. I have a great memory for people, but not names. And names and faces on Twitter can change all the time.

2) Our paths of interest now run parallel instead of crossing. In most cases you are probably a librarian, and a very good one, and a librarian that tweets lots of news and information about your particular field of libraries. I…don’t care as much about that as I used to. This one is hard for me because I probably like the person, but their twitterfeed is more about the job than themselves.

3) A combination of the first two and laced with the fact that, to my recollection, we haven’t interacted on Twitter for a while.

Now to be clear: I unfollowed a lot of people. Some people I had been following for a very long time. I didn’t want to spend too much time deliberating over each person, I made a lot of choices using immediate reactions. Maybe you feel bad about it! Maybe I made the wrong choice. If you think so tell me! I’ll feel like a jerk and follow you back and years from now when I’m still following you we’ll think back on this day and laugh and laugh and laugh.

….but. Odds are good you’re not even going to bother reading this. Odds are good you won’t even realize I unfollowed you. I didn’t REALLY want to make a big deal out of this, I’ve done Twitter culls before, but this time I unfollowed some really excellent folk. To ease my guilt, I’m posting this option to have me follow you back by simply telling me to. If you are aware of it. If you aren’t, well then I don’t have to feel so bad, do I?

As a postscript: I am slowly starting to use Facebook. Bleh. As much as I hate it, it’s at least a good place to keep in touch with people that isn’t the ceaseless conversation of Twitter. Maybe for some it’s a better place to stay friends.

SECOND POSTSCRIPT?: So I feel I should better explain the WHY. While I already follow so many awesome people, there are still more awesome people I want to be friends with. But it’s hard to build relationships on Twitter, harder than it was a few years ago when the room was quieter. With the way my job and life has changed the past year, I’ve decided I need to become a better friend to the friends I have already and the friends I’m just now meeting. To do so I had to turn the volume down a bit. Not a single unfollow was void of a tinge of regret, I promise you that. Well unless you’re an internet cat or something.

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