Last fall, I decided that I was going to get into, as Stephen Colbert calls it, “the Twitter.” I uploaded a reasonably attractive photo of myself and started squeezing my thoughts into 140-character bites. I’m not sure what I was looking for on the Twitter. I guess I wanted to share some of my better pieces of writing, articles that I found interesting and banal details about my existence on Planet Earth. For instance, I apparently thought the whole world should know that I was vaguely acquainted with someone who’d gone to a poo psychologist.
I followed the people, journalism outlets and other entities that interested me. I also started getting followers, most of whom I didn’t know. A few of them were authors, which didn’t bother me because I like to be part of a supportive writer community. However, many of them were self-appointed social media gurus and content “experts” that were bent on telling me how to run my social media existence.
Slowly, my “followers” number crept toward the triple digits. I enthusiastically followed people back when they followed me, and most people were nice except for one guy who went nuts about a reply I made to @FriendlyAtheist. Honestly, though, if you’re a Kirk Cameron fan, then maybe you shouldn’t follow @FriendlyAtheist? Just saying. I ended up blocking him so that he’d stop shout-tweeting at me and go back to gazing adoringly at his dog-eared Mike Seaver poster from Bop!
I tried to read through my the Twitter feed a couple of times a day. I was only following just over 200 people, but reading through their tweets was sucking away at least an hour of my day. Plus, because I’d followed back the social media gurus and content experts, my feed was filled with their prolific 140-character tips plus links #helpfuladvice about getting the most out of social networks like the Twitter. I simply couldn’t find the tweets that interested me because they were buried beneath an onslaught of Internet marketing self-help. After a few weeks, I stopped reading the Twitter at all.
My the Twitter diet lasted for a couple of months and culminated this weekend with me un-following all of those helpful Internet self-promotion evangelists. When you look at their home pages, some of them are following literally tens of thousands of people. I mean, if I can’t read my the Twitter feed when I’m following 200 people, then I’m assuming that they don’t read theirs. Since they don’t read their feeds, then they didn’t follow me on the Twitter because they cared that my local Starbucks has introduced Trenta Tazo iced teas and Trenta Tazo iced teas bring joy to my corner of the world.
I’ve finally decided what I want from the Twitter. I want to know what my friends are tweeting about, and I also want to read articles from The Economist and Scientific American. Additionally, like a true the Twitter voyeur, I want to read the inconsequential but entertaining writings of famous people. I want to know that @WilWheaton is cleaning out his garage. I care.
They say that social networks like the Twitter are all about “building relationships.” However, I’m guessing that @SocialMediaNinja isn’t going to send flowers to my funeral. Un-follow. Now, let’s see if @rickygervais has posted another bathpic.