Why I Unfollowed You on Twitter


Sorry. I unfollowed you, and 1,500 others, on Twitter today. Please don’t take it personally.

Now that we’ve lived with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others for seven plus years I’m starting to optimize how I use each. It was that or stop using them, and I’m no quitter.

I’m optimizing Facebook is to keep up with people I actually know, at least a little bit, in real life. Not people I’ve met just once or twice. If you appear on my timeline and I have to remember how I know you, I unfriend. I’ve taken my daughter Zoe’s idea for pruning Facebook friends: I look at today’s birthdays. If I wouldn’t wish you a happy birthday, you get unfriended. No offense. It’s not that I don’t like you. Just that I don’t know you very well and your updates is not what I want Facebook for.

LinkedIn is for people I know in a professional context. If I worked with you at AOL in 1999 and now I can’t remember who the hell you are, I’ve gotta un-link. Sorry. People use LinkedIn to check references and if I’m not qualified to give you one, we shouldn’t be linked.

I want Twitter to be for news and information from trusted sources. My dream is that I open Twitter and can quickly consume 15-20 interesting stories from around the Web, curated for me by people who know how to sort the wheat from the chaff. I want high signal, low noise. Over the years I’ve accumulated too much “other” on Twitter, and it had come to the point where I never opened Twitter anymore — the noise far outweighed the signal. So today I went from following 1,500+ to less than 200. Suddenly my Twitter homepage has gone from comments on television shows I’ll never watch to up-to-the-minute news from @AllThingsD, @HNTweets, @EricTopol, @pitchforkmedia, and @nickwingfield, to name a few as I glance right this moment.

I unfollowed friends who either don’t use Twitter or don’t post news, links, and info. If we’re friends, I’ll keep up with you on Facebook.

I unfollowed bands. If I’m a fan, my music app should tell me when you have new music. If you’re my favorite, I’m on your email list. If you’re in my library, Songkick and/or BandsInTown will send me an email telling me when you have a new tour date near me. If your album is incredible or you make news, I’ll hear about it from a trusted source I’m following. I kept a few who either post news infrequently or are consistently entertaining (I’m talkin’bout you, @ChuckProphet).

I unfollowed brands. Kinda-liking your product isn’t enough. If I love the thing you do uniquely well (Newton running shoes) I’ll follow just to keep up.

But I felt compelled to keep following a number of labels I love (Matador, Ghostly). Labels post news. Sure, it’s self-promotion but I care about a few labels and am curious to hear what they have going on.

I’m following lots of news sources, from @BreakingNews to @TechDirt to @ThrasherMag.

I’m following writers, bloggers, and pundits, o the the hope they know well how to deliver the goods. I can see already a few who are using Twitter more like a wannabe rapper; they will soon be unfollowed.

I kept humor. Jenny Johnson. Rob Delaney. Drunk Hulk. Anti Joke Apple. I like a little funny pages in my news.

Remember: the Internet is not “full if noise and amateurs” as many would like to have you believe. TV ads and billboards are noise. On the net, you are in control. You can delete the low signal and amplify the noise. Control your own inputs.

To save itself from teh suck (sic) Twitter should add an “Unfollow All” feature, then could recommend to me the people on Twitter who have the highest ratio of clicks to followers. Lead me to signal, help me eradicate noise.

Following the golden rule of content distribution, I’m going to try to use Twitter as I’m asking those I follow to use it — for news/information I think others will find useful. For personal tidbits, I’ll use Facebook and/or Instagram.