Why I might unfollow you on Twitter


Apart from the bug in twitter that capriciously and secretly unfollows people for me, I do sometimes deliberately unfollow people.

You need to know why I follow people in the first place though to make sense of my unfollowings;

1. I want to get information

  • If I’m interested in a subject then I like people to link me to articles and stories that expand my knowledge of that subject. Thus, I will follow people who appear informed about the subject and who frequently share their sources of information.

2. I want my biases confirmed

  • I have a particular worldview and I look for informed support to validate that worldview.

3. I want my biases challenged

  • Any belief system can be judged by its ability to withstand criticism. My worldview does not include a denial of other systems— on the contrary, it welcomes informed comment and debate. However this does not include opinions, some kind of evidence is required to support any assertion.

4. I want to use the wisdom of the crowds

  • Quite often I can secure a service or piece of equipment through contacts on twitter so the people I follow often have large follower numbers or their biographies make them significant.

5. I want to be entertained sometimes.

  • Funny jokes, ideas, witticisms or images are a welcome break from the bad news and negativity that predominates my timeline.

So this is why I might unfollow you;

1. You don’t supply any information or insights.

  • I have limited time to spend on social media so I don’t want my timeline filled with pictures of cats, boasts of how busy you are or tales of how bored you are waiting in some queue. The odd tweet like that is excusable but not the vast majority.

2. I like to ‘work the room’

  • There are so many interesting people on twitter that I can’t possibly meet them all but that won’t stop me trying. Unlike some people who are following tens of thousands of people, I like to keep a manageable timeline and so trim it now and again. If a tweeter is limited in their benefits to me but they follow me back then I will be less inclined to unfollow them as the wisdom of the crowd criterion could still apply.

3. This relationship is going nowhere

  • Eventually, it becomes obvious there is no value in following someone – there is no interaction and no common ground anymore and their tweets are simply taking up space in my timeline.

If I unfollow you, it’s nothing personal (I’ll still say hello in real life if we’ve met before) it’s just that my social circle is evolving but limited in its capacity. If I have a disagreement with someone on twitter, that is not a cause for me to unfollow them, on the contrary, if their argument is sound then I’ll respect them even more.

I don’t use my twitter account for any specific goal so ultimately, it’s like talking to someone in a pub: if their conversation is predictable, monotonous, one-way or too technical for my interests, then I’ll excuse myself and look for another conversation.

2 Responses to “Why I might unfollow you on Twitter”

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