social media panic

I’ve got to start this post with a confession: I unfollowed you on Twitter.

Honestly? It’s not you, it’s me.

You were chatting on about reality TV every single week and MAN, I hate reality TV. Hate it.

And then you started sharing those pretty things you pin on Pinterest. I can’t craft. I can’t cook. I don’t care about interior design.

I love that you blog, and your blog makes you happy, but it’s about fashion. My wardrobe is 90% Gap, 5% Marks and Sparks and 5% souvenir t-shirts from gigs and holidays. I don’t do fashion.

So while I continue to acknowledge you’re a fabulous friend and all-round tip-top person, I choose not to follow you on Twitter. Cos we like different stuff, basically.

Also, possibly I just forgot to follow you. I always mean to spend time adding people on Twitter. But then life happens, emails land, the dog gets sick… it can’t just be me, can it?

Of course, it works both ways – if you don’t like dog photos, you probably don’t want to follow me on Instagram. You don’t even have to read my blog. Although, you know, you should feel totally welcome too, obvs.

Lately, though, I’m wondering if my approach to Twitter is out of step. I tend to follow people because they Tweet stuff I’m interested in, or because I’m very good friends with them in real life.

Plenty of people I follow don’t follow me back, and that’s okay – just because I think @stuheritage is hilarious doesn’t mean he has to think the same about me. Just because I love seeing the random hilarious GIFS from @emotionalpedant doesn’t mean she has any interest in the life of a single Mum with a 10yo daughter and a job in social media.

But I know other people consider it a matter of etiquette – if you don’t follow me, I can’t follow you.

Actually, I unfollowed someone recently on Twitter. Nothing personal, it was just about interests not aligning. That person immediately unfollowed me back. For good measure they unfollowed me on Instagram and unfriended me on Facebook.

Obviously, that’s fine, and I am 100% not being critical of that approach if it works for you, but what this sort of thing says to me is that you’re only following me so I’ll follow you. You’re interested in numbers, not conversations. If I’m not following you, you won’t follow me. Not because I’m less interesting, or I’ve been rude, or I’ve offended you by some political statement or other. But simply because I’m no longer adding to your numbers.

Honestly? Doesn’t sound much fun to me.

What it also says is that too many people use those ridiculous tools that alert you whenever someone unfollows you. STOP IT. STOP IT NOW. I can’t think of a more effective way to give your self-esteem a good kick in the face on a regular basis. Just because you CAN know doesn’t mean it’s smart to actually know.

I looked one up this week and saw that two people I know pretty well had unfollowed me on Twitter. And even though – hello? – it’s Twitter, and not actually real life, I properly had a moment of feeling sad, and wondering what I’d done. Then I metaphorically slapped myself around the face, told myself to stop being such a self-involved dick about the whole thing, and moved on. I Tweet some proper nonsense, and if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.

I follow and unfollow on Twitter with abandon – I don’t like to follow TOO many people because I don’t get onto Twitter much during the day, and if I follow more than about 1,000 people I find my timeline moves too fast. But if I see a funny Tweet or RT, I’ll follow that person. If someone is an obvious “I live Tweet Reality TV” then I might unfollow because – frankly – not my thing. I might refollow after the season finishes.

I have a similar approach to Instagram – I follow a LOT of people and I only really unfollow if someone is one of those people who uploads all their photos in one go at the end of the day (like Twitter, it’s easy for your feed to get overwhelmed that way, and miss other stuff). I also have a horrible habit at the moment of following people who I think are bloggers only to find out 2 photos in that they’re actually selling slimming wraps and it’s all inspo quotes and photos of people’s midriffs. No, thanks.

If someone reads my blog, I’lll tend to read their blog, too – but I’ll only be a regular reader if the blog works for me. I have really good friends whose blogs I don’t read regularly – one friend blogs about clean eating (sorry, but no) and another blogs about crafts (the world is better with me not crafting in it). Another good friend blogs about hiking. Me, hiking? As if.

I love my friends dearly but sometimes I have nothing of value to add to their comment pages. And I hope they’re okay with that. But maybe I’m misjudging the etiquette here.

I’d love to know what you think – should social media be reciprocal, or are you a bit more of a social media butterfly? Do you use tools to track who follows back and who doesn’t?

 (pic credit: Shutterstock)