Why I Stopped Following You on Twitter

Breaking up is hard to do.

Despite all efforts to conduct my life in a rational way, I have a number of stupid, self-inflicted superstitions.

For example, when I receive my author copies of a book, the first book I remove from the box becomes my copy. It goes on the bookshelf I have reserved for my author copies in the chronological order of its publication date. Translations of the same title come after it on the shelf. I don’t write in, discard, or give away that book for any reason. I don’t even lend it out. If I need another copy of the book after all author copies are gone, I buy one. My brain tells me that something bad will happen if that book isn’t saved with the others.

That’s just one example. Hopefully, another will spring to mind before I finish typing this blog post. Otherwise, it’ll have to do.

I have a Twitter superstition, too. It tells me that I should always follow the first person I followed on Twitter. I didn’t know this person — we’ll call him Number One — when I began following him. Twitter was much smaller in those days and I found Number One on the public timeline, which I used to check periodically to find interesting people. (There were no Twitter tools for finding interesting people as there are now.) I followed him because I thought his tweets were interesting and, after all, I had to follow someone.

I’ve been on Twitter for more than 2 years now, so I have been following Number One for that whole time. And he tweets almost as much as I do.

The trouble is, I have absolutely no interest in 98% of what Number One has been tweeting for the past six months or so. He has different interests, his life has changed, his job has changed. He tweets about these new things. I can’t connect with them. They simply don’t interest me.

Number One is not the first person I follow on Twitter to drift out of the sphere of what interests me. (Or perhaps I’m the one who has drifted.) In most cases, I simply stop following that person. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but if a person’s tweets don’t interest me, I really don’t see any reason why I should let them clog up my timeline. It’s nothing personal — it’s all practical.

Unfortunately, the longer I’ve been following someone, the more difficult that unfollow decision is. And this decision — with the first person I followed — has me stuck.

Because of that stupid superstition that tells me I should keep following him.

You need to understand that unlike many people on Twitter, I actually follow the people I follow. Their tweets appear in my timeline and I read them. I respond to them when I have something to say. I don’t collect followers: Twitter is not a popularity contest. I’ve found that following more than 100 or so people overwhelms me, so I don’t generally follow much more than that. In order to follow new people, I have to drop old ones that aren’t as interesting as they once were. I need to “make room” so to speak for the people who do interest me.

Learn it all.So Number One has got to go.

If you’re reading this, Number One, you know who you are. Please don’t be offended that I stopped following you. I certainly won’t be offended if you stop following me — which you may have already done.

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