This is a letter to those people who I have unfollowed, or who have followed me and I have followed back, but have subsequently unfollowed, and to those people who I have chosen not to follow, even though they have been kind enough to follow me.
First of all, I sincerely apologize!
Life is about resources, choices and goals. It is a series of compromises, adjustments and course corrections. Due to these factors and considerations associated with them, I am unfollowing/not following you.
Permit me to explain:
It’s not you, it’s me.
I am not conceited enough to believe that my explanation or apology will make much difference in your life, but it will allow me to feel a little better. (That’s right, it’s all about me.) I just want you to know that I don’t follow and unfollow on a whim.
Life, generally, is pretty busy. I am a well-organized person, and am usually fairly disciplined; however the cliché “there are only so many hours in the day” happens to be the truth. So my time is a valuable resource and I only have so much of it in which to achieve everything that I need to do, both in my personal and my professional life.
I know what I need to accomplish, and I have a plan to do so. As a result I do things with purpose and intent.
I also become grumpy and resentful when something that should be enjoyable turns into an obligation or “must-do” just to be crossed off my list.
So the logical decision is to maximize the time I have to devote to Twitter, because that commodity is finite.
Next, I need to limit the number of people I follow, so I feel I am doing justice to the spirit of the community and can mindfully interact with them, within the time I have to spend there.
I’d like to make a distinction about Twitter vernacular that is a pet peeve of mine; you and I may have “followers”, but the possessive nature of that word is misleading.
People choose to follow you. It is an honour, a favour, a gift, and should not be taken for granted. This is another reason why I feel an apology is needed. I may be choosing not to follow someone who has granted me the favour.
The decisions I make are not taken lightly. I would follow everyone, if I could, but that just doesn’t make sense to me. As it is, I feel guilty about not spending enough time reading and interacting on Twitter.
Social media due diligence
In deciding to follow, someone, I do my due diligence. I read their profiles, peruse their twitter stream and ask myself the following questions:
Is their content relevant or helpful to me?
Do I think I have things to learn from them?
Are we in related fields of occupation?
Do we share the same interests (skewed towards professional interests admittedly)?
Do they write well (grammar and spelling)?
Do they actually tweet, or only retweet?
Does their contribution add value to the twittersphere?
Do they come across as genuine?
I immediately refuse to follow if the non-curse words in the stream outnumber the expletive deleteds. Or, if all I see is an unabated stream of shameless self-promotion. I hesitate to follow if the content seems too focused on the personal or if there are too many hashtags to easily differentiate one from the other.
I’m not judging – you are who you are and Twitter is the tool you need it to be in order to express yourself. I respect that, and would hope that you can respect this as my personal opinion, my personal choice and not any form of censure.
And then, periodically, I examine the list of people I’m following and do a similar evaluation with the help of SocialBro, Hootsuite and TwitCleaner. And, perhaps, I decide to unfollow you.
The value of Twitter is the quality of the interaction.
For me, Twitter for me is about the quality of the interaction and not a set of numbers to prove my popularity and feed my ego. I am in awe of the people with thousands of followers. It is an incredible accomplishment, though not one I aspire to emulate. I can handle walking 3 -5 miles twice a day; I enjoy it. As much as I admire them and think how cool and healthy it would be to be one, I have no desire to become a marathon runner.
I currently have a modest following of 500 or so. I follow 500 people. I would estimate overlap in my network is about 80%. I’m currently asking myself how many more people I can follow with the expectation to maintain reasonable levels of interaction.
There are difficult decisions to be made in life. I believe everyone is important, everyone matters. I am even certain that I have something to learn from everyone I encounter. I am but human, though, and I just can’t take advantage of all the opportunities.
As some knowledge is more relevant and useful to me than other information, I choose to concentrate where I am best likely to have my needs met.
So please accept my genuine and sincere apology for not following or for unfollowing you.