Can you remember your first tweet? I wonder if it’s up there with your first kiss or your first date or has it been lost in the ever expanding ether-mass that makes up your everyday life?
For better or worse, I do actually know when I took my fledgling flight and sent my first tweet out into the big bad world of Twitter. Not because it is etched into my memory banks, that would be a little sad even for me; no, like so many aspects of my life, I have written down the date: 7 January 2009.
I’m not sure but I think that might make me close to being a veteran member, but perhaps I have become a delusional tweeter (symptomatic of the fictional life some people are driven to in their thirst for virtual popularity).
It appealed to me far more than Facebook because it was easy to operate and wasn’t controlled by endless agreements, advertising and checking whether or not you wanted to give someone permission to communicate with you. Twitter was a ‘wham-bam-thank-you-mam’ kind of thing and that suited me.
Facebook has 1.11 billion users
Twitter has 500 million users with 200 million active
Anyway, I digress from the purpose of this post.
Just how important has Twitter become in your life? Have your electronic Followers now become more important to you than your human friends and do you pine for every ‘Unfollow’ and feel you want to contact them personally to find out why they have ‘gone off you’? Have you gone as far as registering with one of the many ‘twitter-quitter’ sites to see how many and more importantly who has stopped following you? And if someone unfollows you, do you straight away delete them from your electronic social life in an ‘up yours’ *sticking your tongue out* sort of way?
I cannot deny I have fallen prey to many of the torturous characteristics that Twitter can bring out in a person; the demonization of my (usually) gentle and forgiving personality means my senses on occasion (usually late at night when all of our little demons tend to show themselves and it is only the following morning when we ask’why on earth did I do that?’) are guilty of a few Twitter transgressions.
I hasten to add there have been no major ones like naming & shaming those who stop following (go to the Tweet sin-bin if you’ve done that!), but I cannot deny there have been a few reciprocal unfollows.
And that’s what got me thinking (I seem to do a lot of that in my posts), what’s the point of it all and would I be better channelling my efforts into other areas that would gain me some slightly more lucrative results?
But that’s where I flounder, because for all the obsessive behaviour Twitter can bring out in a person, I have actually gained something from my time here.
I have made new friends – not virtual ones, no I mean real human ‘in the flesh’ sort of friends and we have met for Tweet-ups where I have met other people that the people I follow, follow but who may not follow me and vice versa (are you following me?) But it was interesting to hear what people did and what they were really like rather than what their tweets said about them.
I have also gained business from Twitter, not a huge amount I grant you, but nevertheless it is business I would not otherwise have had.
It is also a light relief to my somewhat closeted existence, being a writer I tend to shut myself away for days on end, only coming out for the school run or if we run out of food. OK that’s a slight exaggeration but you get my drift and to occasionally dip into someone else’s world can be restorative and sometimes quite funny.
So when I decided to join a twitter-quitter service and clicked on the unfollow button in response to someone leaving, I thought it was about time to take stock of my Twitter self and sort it out.
Does it really matter who is following you, yes it’s flattering to think you are terribly popular and you are followed in their thousands, but surely it’s not who or how many follow you so much as who you follow? After all the point of it is to be ‘twittering’ and to do that you need to interact with people who interest you or have something of interest to say.
So this is what I think, priority is to find people you are interested in and follow them; if they follow back then that’s a bonus. Then by all means follow back someone who follows you out of courtesy but don’t feel you have to or that you must ferret them out just to keep them interested.
But the main thing is if people drop off along the way, don’t get hung up about it. Maybe you said something they didn’t like, maybe you didn’t turn out to be what they expected or maybe they’ve simply ‘gone off’ you.
It doesn’t matter in the scheme of things; the ether is a bit like outer space – jam packed full of junk and debris that was once very useful. Yes it would be interesting to get it back but given the cost in both time and effort, is it really worth it?
My advice? Enjoy Twitter for what it is and what you make it but once the debris starts building up, just ignore it and continue to enjoy the interaction of those people you have got to know – virtually!