Once upon a time, I joined Twitter. Setting up the people I followed was FUN. I followed my friends, authors, artists, and musicians I liked. Then I threw in a couple people from the publishing industry because I am a writer.
It was a riot. I got on Twitter and saw what my friends and people I liked were doing.
Soon, I found myself getting emails notifying me that new people were following me on Twitter. In the spirit of camaraderie, I’d follow them back. It was easy, I just hit a button in the email and it took me right to their page and I hit “follow.” Easy peasy.
But soon, I was getting so many followers that I was losing track of the Tweets from people I liked so I got a tiny bit more discriminating: Now, if they had the slightest thing in common with me (were writers, were Italian, etc.) I’d follow them back.
Pretty soon, I had followed some 34 billion other people on Twitter and yet only 500 were following me. I didn’t get it. The numbers didn’t add up. If I followed the people who followed me first, shouldn’t I also have 34 billion followers?
Something was fishy.
But then it struck me: People on Twitter are playing a game. A game that I obviously didn’t know the rules to.
I started getting a hint of this when every few weeks I would get an email in my inbox saying “ANNOYING GUY” is following you on Twitter. I figured out that if I kept getting these emails, it meant he kept following me, then unfollowing me and then following me again. What the hell?
Then, I started to get it. The game is this: follow someone so they’ll follow you. Then, once they follow you, unfollow them.
And if you’re totally psycho, like Annoying Guy, keep some diabolical master list of who you want to follow you and then keep following and unfollowing them for eternity. Or until they follow you back.
At first, it didn’t make sense. I mean who in the hell would spend that much time and be that organized that they could do something like this. Maybe there is a computer program, like a spam program, that does it for them? I don’t know, what I do know is I think it is totally lame.
I also think it is a colossal waste of time.
I’m not going to buy someone’s book because they put out a promotional Tweet about it four times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In fact, that is pretty much a guarantee that I WON’T buy their book because I’m completely, thoroughly and utterly annoyed by them.
What will make me buy a book? Someone who tweets freaking hilarious or interesting information. Shoot, I based a whole friendship on this. I knew Owen Laukkanen and I would be pals based on his lobster fisherman innuendos that he Tweeted. Now, we hang in person whenever he’s in town.
I will also buy a book by The Bloggess after people tweeted about her and I found her hysterically, falling-down-crying-practically-peeing-your-pants funny.
But the worst part of this idiotic Twitter game, was that I stopped getting on Twitter as often to avoid being bombarded by 34 billion Tweets from people I didn’t know saying things I didn’t care about and things I most definitely DIDN’T find to be falling-down-funny. Or informative.
I missed the lyrical Tweets from Johnette of Concrete Blonde or Tweets from my dear friends Celeste, Claire, or some of my other old journalism cohorts. So, I decided to clean the closet.
It took me about 45 minutes but I basically deleted 33.9 billion of the people I was following. I kept a few, mainly people who I had met in person or who I had some type of relationship with other than on Twitter, say fellow Sister in Crime members, and so on.
I am so relieved. Suddenly, I like Twitter again. Now when I get on Twitter, it’s like catching up with old friends.
So, in the frenzy of cleaning closet, I may have deleted someone who I have a relationship with and if I did, go ahead and let me know and I’ll follow you again. But the rest of you trying to sell your book or your soul or whatever on Twitter: well, good luck with that.