As you may have noticed, Twitter is the online phenomenon of the year. Usage is growing very quickly, and as a consequence I’m seeing a lot of “how to” articles explaining what you need to do in order to get rick quick by tweeting. The last one I read contained this piece of advice:
Try to have a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. If 1,000 people follow you and you only follow 10 folks, you will be seen as selfish and snob. If 10 people follow you and you follow 1,000, you will be seen as a spammer.
Really, no. I’m following 30+ people at the moment and already it is starting to seem a bit much at times. Twitter is full of one-to-one conversations. Many of the people following me are folks I have never heard of. I don’t want to be obliged to wade through all of their chatter to find things of interest to be just to avoid being seen as snobby.
I already have a bunch of people I have “friended” on LiveJournal that I don’t know and whose posts I generally skim past because of that loaded word “friend”. I suspect that hundreds of the people I am “friends” with on Facebook are people I don’t know, or have met in passing at a convention, or who once read Emerald City. With Facebook this doesn’t matter much, but with LJ I’d like to reduce the length of my FList to make it easier to read, but I’m reluctant to do so because people take “unfriending”, and even refusing to reciprocate friending to be a serious insult. I had hoped that Twitter would be better. At least it avoided the F word.
And what about those who use it to keep up with celebrities, or for entertainment? I have a sneaking suspicion that people who are celebrities, even minor ones like SF writers, actually want to be followed, and really don’t care much if the people following them don’t have many followers. Twitter could certainly do with some better tools for finding out if people are trying to talk to you when you don’t follow them, but that should be easily solved.
So this is basically a plea for a bit of social networking sanity. Most people have to work for a living. Sometimes that work involves using social networking sites to reach your audience. Such people will inevitably have more followers than followed, have more people wanting to be their friend than they can possibly actually be friends with. Let’s be realistic about that, OK?