It’s weird how social networks like Facebook and Twitter can mess with your mind. You sign up for a Facebook account because, quite frankly, everyone else is doing it. Then along comes Twitter because, well, why not. It’s all innocent fun at first, but at some point it becomes less about the quality of the connections being made through the sites and more about the quantity. How many Facebook friends do I have? How many people are following me on Twitter? How many hits is my blog getting, and how can I generate more comments?
I’m rarely on Facebook anymore. I thought it was because of all the ridiculous surveys and other nonsense that clutter up the news feed, but I’ve come to realize it’s actually because most of the “noise” is coming from a handful of Facebook friends that I’m really not that interested in. It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s just that I don’t really interact with them any more, and inevitably these are also the same people that update their Facebook status 20 times a day and feel the need to comment on everything. So I made a decision yesterday to unfriend several of them.
Ironically, at the same time I was cutting my digital ties on Facebook, I was losing 9 followers on Twitter. Most of them were people or organizations that I had no association with anyway, but one was a person I communicated with fairly regularly.
Immediately, I began trying to figure out what I had said to drive this person away. Had I offended them in some way? What had I done wrong? The pangs of rejection hit me hard for a few minutes. And then I realized the irony.
I had just let 8 or 9 people go on one social network as 9 people were letting me go on another. When I unfriended my Facebook friends, it wasn’t personal at all — none of them had hurt me or offended me in any way. I just wasn’t finding value in their Facebook updates. In all likelihood, the people who stopped following me on Twitter felt the same way about my tweets: for whatever reason I wasn’t adding value to their lives.
Author Anne Jackson recently wrote on her blog about following “conversations” on Twitter rather than following people:
Overall, unless you have a real strategy behind Twittering, by following a ton of people, you’re not networking. You’re only following a lot of noise. Sure, you may occasionally find a nugget to chew on, but a lot of other well-deserving Tweets will fall through the cracks and be buried in the chaos of the masses. …
If you truly want Twitter to be an effective social networking tool, strategize *somehow* (it doesn’t have to look like mine) or clean house. If you want it to be a flood of noise, keep hitting the Follow button and let the Tweets roll on by.
As social media takes on a greater role in our lives, we need to stop thinking in terms of quantity. Simply having more Twitter followers or blog readers or whatever doesn’t mean you’re a better person. Your self worth shouldn’t be determined by Google Analytics. In fact, “more” can be worse because it dilutes the value of the connections you really care about.
I hope that if you’re reading this, you do find some value in it. I hope that if you follow me on Twitter or if we’re Facebook friends, that I’m not just producing a lot of noise in your life. But if I am, then by all means let me go. I won’t take it personally.
How to play the game of ‘Blog-Facebook-Twitter’