Recently on Twitter I unfollowed a friend who had become too noisy. Long strings of banal tweets were interfering with those in my stream who had something to say. I launched a tweet reflecting my decision but didn’t disclose the perpetrator. I then received a handful of direct messages reflecting anxious concern (“I hope it wasn’t me”).
Interesting, but not surprising.
So why do we get so upset when people stop following us? Or why do we fear losing followers? And why do some grow so painfully obsessed with their blog traffic? Perhaps we just want to be loved. Vanity is, of course, the social web’s most potent fuel.
To some extent my view of social media is unforgiving and increasingly driven by what I need. I work to follow people who offer value. I use Twitter and other feed as human filters that work for me on a variety of levels. But my interests and personal direction change from time to time. That, of course, involves regular adjustment of the filter. And adjustments involve unfollowing.
Conversely, I can’t predict the needs of my followers. I suspect that my stream’s balance of awkward insight and occasional dry humor distributed in evenhanded way has relevance to someone. But I accept that I can’t please all the people all of the time.
Now follow me out on this limb.
If social media is as much about transparency and altruistic benevolence as we’ve been lead to believe, we should be thrilled when we’re unfollowed. We have, after all, helped someone refine their human filter and get closer to where they need to go.
I suspect this idea won’t achieve widespread adoption.
Engagement in the social media space requires a real appraisal of what we want and why we’re here. And if it’s all about needing love and someone to follow you, I might suggest a lapdog.
You can unfollow me here.