How I Avoid Filter Failure on Twitter


I unfollowed an old friend on Twitter recently.  A person with some good things to say.  Recently he had taken to repeatedly pushing his personal agenda down my throat.

I got tired of it.  So I voted with my cursor.

I love the folks I follow.  I love the different stuff they bring.  I love to know where they stand.  That’s why I chose to follow them.  I avoid the filter bubble by listening to people from different backgrounds.  And I love the human expression that comes through technology.  I love seeing the natural variations in mood among those I know.  Their patterns and the subtle choice of language can change like the tides.  Consequently, I offer lots of latitude.

Making your point on a topic allows me to see what you believe.  But making it 55 times creates noise.  When I give you my email or allow you into my Twitter stream, that access comes with a responsibility.  If you want my ear, don’t bark in it repeatedly.

Of course there are events that we live tweet.  But we all know that those meetings are time-limited.  Ideologues are not.

I try to balance what I share out of respect to those who take the time to listen.  I’m passionate about vaccine advocacy, for example.  But I understand that only a small fraction of those listening to me care as much about this.  So I use my platform to occasionally share the best stuff that supports public vaccine education.  Then I move on.

I can eat my own dog food.  What I deliver doesn’t always please or help those who initially choose to listen.  My interests and focus migrate over the months.  What I offer may come to represent noise for you.  The solution is simple: just unfollow.

There’s lots of discussion about information overload.  But as Clay Shirky has suggested, “It’s not information overload.  It’s filter failure.”  We’d all do better to think about who we listen to and why.  Then draw our attention to those who bring real value.