I’m not going to write the post on what I look for in a tweeter, mostly because Uncle Dynamite and Ahm have already done it much better than I could. (Hint: I agree with them on most points.) But I do want to say something about the politics of following and unfollowing. So if you’re already sick of that sort of thing, skip this post. I’ll never know.
When I first got on Twitter, I followed as many people as I could—mostly celebrities and comedians at that point. These weren’t exactly the early days of the site, but I still had to explain the concept to people other than my mother. Even then, I realized I was in over my head—that I was following too many people to adequately keep up with their posts. I had the same problem back in high school on LiveJournal, which was kind of like Twitter but with more slash fanfic and Dashboard Confessional lyrics.
A couple years have passed. At this point, I’m probably more Twitter than human. And while I’d feel like a total douche trying to establish myself as a “big name” on the site—especially when there are much bigger names, so to speak—I’d say I have a fairly sizable following. It’s long past the point where I can follow back everyone who follows me, or even those who interact with me via @-replies. And that doesn’t make me feel smug or awesome; it makes me feel like a total asshole.
It’s not that I want to follow everyone. I don’t—there are some real idiots out there. But there are plenty of people I would follow if I had a bit more time, another set of eyes, or an assistant who could record the day’s tweets onto a cassette that I could play while sleeping. (Yeah, a cassette. I’m a man of simple needs.) More and more often, however, I will receive a request from someone looking for a follow, or worse—someone I unfollowed will ask why I dropped him/her like he/she was hot. (That’s still a timely reference, yeah?)
I know I don’t need to explain myself, but I do feel a lot of guilt (about everything, all the time). I hate when people say following choices aren’t personal, because of course they’re personal. I guess the idea is, you can like someone and not like his Twitter account. But if a friend told me he enjoyed my company and hated my writing, yeah, I’d be pretty butthurt. I’m not saying that isn’t his prerogative—I’m just saying it might merit an entry in my wangsty LiveJournal.
But I hope the people who wonder why I won’t follow them back get that it goes both ways. Do you have any idea how many people I follow whom I’d love to have return the favor? (I do know the number, but I’ll spare you.) It irks me that they won’t, especially if they know who I am. It makes me feel self-conscious. My point isn’t, boo, my life is hard—but I do get it. It bugs me that there are people who don’t dig what I do, just as I’m sure it bugs you. And to those who honestly don’t let it get to them: kudos, you are more secure than I!
(Incidentally, I’m not trying to call anyone out. I’ll admit that I get down on myself over petty shit like my follower count, but I don’t hold it against anyone.)
Really briefly, I will do what I said I wasn’t going to, and talk about my desired traits in a tweeter. So, in short: sharp, witty, relatable. I’d rather get a sense of who this person is than laugh out loud at every joke. I prefer those who are willing to chat in the @-replies, but I understand that some prefer DMs, and that’s cool, too. I’m anal enough about my Twitter account to get it. And no, I’m not going to ask people to stop calling me out on my following choices, because hey, do what you gotta do. Just know that I’m going to feel shitty about it. And probably not follow you back.