I committed twittercide.
Too many chats going on right now!
— Marisa Wren (@Mwren13) February 12, 2015
The more significant question is ‘why?’.
However, when I was following over 900 people, I had no idea who most of them were. No doubt they are passionate connected educators like me, but how would I ever know if it was only by chance that I was able to read their posts or follow their links? Why was I following them, anyway?!?
And the simple answer is that I followed them because they followed me. I craved ‘followers’ and feared that they would unfollow me if I didn’t follow back.
The situation became worse when quasi celebrities and marketers began following me. How exciting it was to be ‘followed’ by someone with hundreds of thousands of ‘followers’!
Their tweets clogged my stream until it was obviously impossible to follow them at all. Every trip through the Twitterverse became cacophony. Unmanageable chaos reigned as motivational speakers mingled with online marketing ‘gurus’.
My family, friends, colleagues, and mentors were lost in the fray.
At the same time, I was reminded of the work of Adam Grant by the post and podcast, Adam Grant on Givers, Takers, Matchers and Fakers. Was I giving anything by following so many people on Twitter? I certainly wasn’t giving attention. By all accounts I was a matcher but that’s not want I want to be.
Promotors use social media to promote brands, products, and themselves. Everyone on Twitter is a promoter to some degree, but the more analysis I did, the more I recognized the patterns and strategies that are pure promotion.
The most glaring example of promotion on Twitter is done through hashtags. A Twitter user who always includes in their posts a hashtag related to a particular brand or product is a promoter.
Promoters study and strategize to mask their intent, for example by automating direct messages to new followers or retweeting, although I have observed that they almost always retweet from other promoters.
What Connectors consistently show, and Promoters desperately fake, is authenticity.
To foster community on social networks, I must participate as a community member. The graphic below from The six types of Twitter conversations by Pew Research Center provided models which helped me to understand the nature of my connections.
I didn’t want to continue my inauthentic participation in my ‘community’, but I also didn’t want to lose the connections I had made over the years. The solution was lists. I conducted a complete audit of my entire network and sorted everyone according to a system of lists that seems to work.
In my post, Don’t be a node. Be a nexus., I encourage myself and others to be active, independent, and dynamic in their online networks. For me, this starts from unfollowing hundreds of people so that I can give attention to my community.
To quote Sherry Turkle from The Flight From Conversation, ‘look up, look at one another, and let’s start the conversation.’