“There is more to life than twitter.”
“Why are you watching that rubbish? It’ll rot your brain! Go outside and get some fresh air.”
“NOT ALL MEN!”
These are all examples of tweets I’m sent regularly on twitter, usually by people who think they are the first to say it. The one thing they all have in common is I unfollow them within 30 seconds of them sending me the tweet.
That may sound harsh to you, but if you’re anything like me, twitter is somewhere to escape to. Somewhere to have fun. To talk complete and utter nonsense, as and when you feel like it and the BEST thing of all is people don’t HAVE to listen, but they choose to. A few even enjoy listening to your rants, your jokes and the revelation that you’ve never eaten a Yorkshire pudding. (Never ever confess that on twitter.)
So when someone comes along to police what you say, to patronise you about what you choose to watch on TV, to tell you you need to chill out about feminism, I don’t have any time for it. I draw a deep breath, pull myself up to my full height of 5′ (and just under) 4″ and click ‘unfollow,’ which is my equivalent of the Peggy Mitchell “GET OUTTA MY PUB.” And that is the beauty of twitter, you see, you can control it. This is what appeals to the control freak in me. It’s control we lack in real life. This isn’t Facebook, you don’t know these people. If they’re boring you, making you unhappy or just don’t hold your interest, you have the choice not to read what they say anymore. Simple.
We’ve all come across people who take an unfollow very seriously indeed.
The Troll – This has only happened to me once. The day after the Lee Rigby murder, I unfollowed someone for tweeting relentlessly about how Muslims were to blame for everything. They were entitled to their opinion and I was entitled to not see it. We’d barely spoken and only followed each other because we had a lot of mutual friends. I didn’t think she’d notice, but I got a tweet almost immediately asking me why. I explained we didn’t seem to have much in common. She spent the next 24 hours tweeting both to me and about me. Her friends got involved, there was name calling, swearing, and eventually, I reluctantly blocked her. She went on to do the same thing to someone else a year later.
I say ‘reluctantly’ because as a rule, I don’t block people, for the same reason I don’t lock my account or delete tweets. It makes me accountable for my actions, which in turn means I’m careful not to say anything I don’t mean. What I do say, I stand by. The only time I’ve had to block people is when I’m being harrassed, trolled, spammed or occasionally, just temporarily while I calm down after a heated discussion or argument. I’m not egotistical enough to assume anyone is stalking my tweets and even if they are, it’s in the public domain, so they have every right to. Blocking is often just used as a pointless tool against someone who is unlikely to ever bother you again anyway.
The Passive Aggressive – They’ll send you a seemingly benign tweet to tell you they know what you’ve done, but make no mistake, in Facebook parlance they are ‘FEWMIN’. You’ll eventually get a
Sorry to see you go.
Good luck with the future.
Or the worst, a simple
The Attention Seeker – Not unlike the passive aggressive, but they’ll milk an unfollow for every ounce of sympathy they can get from their followers.
Just been unfollowed, oh well, never mind, I won’t let it get me down.
And yet, 3 days later…
You know me hun, I just get on with it. Their loss. I just wish I knew what I’d done.
These are extreme examples though. Most people take it in their stride, are perfectly nice and understand that sometimes, it’s no reflection on them or their tweets, it’s just not what you’re looking for from twitter. Everyone has their place and will find like minded followers. For example, I don’t have children, nor do I intend to have any, so mummy bloggers and tweeters don’t really appeal to me unless they’re particularly funny or share similar interests to me. It’s nothing personal. Occasionally, it’s because someone never engages in conversation or replies to any tweets. I try to talk to everyone, but I understand others don’t.
Sometimes, I unfollow because I’ve had a bad day. It’s that simple. I’m generalising here, but women on social media have to deal with things most men don’t have to on a daily basis. The perverts, cock pics, the constant mansplaining, the patronising, the “calm down dear,” the appalling sexism, the occasional racism, it takes its toll. Some days I’m just fucked off, so I’ll unfollow over something stupid. (I’m tempted to post screenshots to give you an idea of what it can be like, but this blog is long enough.) We all get days like that, so I try to make allowances for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been unfollowed and blocked many times. Usually it doesn’t even register on my radar, unless it was someone I spoke to a lot, then it stings, and that has happened on occasion. In those cases, there’s usually been a disagreement or something to warrant it, but even if there wasn’t, it’s their choice and their right. I’d much rather be unfollowed than have someone police my tweets.
There are occasions where Twitter will unfollow people on your behalf, which is mortifying. It’s happened to me and thankfully that person was someone I’m close to, who knew I was unlikely to unfollow and politely asked if I’d meant to do it. I was touched she cared enough to make that effort and apologised immediately.
Which brings me to the point of this blog. I’d like to propose a Twitter Amnesty. It’s no different from what most people call a ‘Cull’ or a ‘Clearout.’ But when I do it, I encourage others to do the same. I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me they’re too scared/worried about upsetting someone or feel obliged to follow them. If someone unfollows you and you think it might be a mistake, by all means ask, but don’t get upset, don’t take it personally and try to remember it’s just one person’s opinion and no reflection on you unless of course, you’re a dick. An unfollow doesn’t mean they hate you or even dislike you. I’m happy to continue chatting to people on my TL who I’ve unfollowed and who have unfollowed me.
If you do choose to unfollow, there’s no need to tell them you’re unfollowing or giving an explanation, just do it. They really don’t give a shit. This is YOUR Twitter. Take it back and start enjoying it again, even if the first person you unfollow is me. So go on, start your Twitter Amnesty today.