As yet, not memorialised by Merriam Webster in the form being used here, unfollow is mostly a verb. I take it to indicate an action of either detaching from or unsubscribing from an individual, a cause or a group (or some other noun) within the realm of social media or any other online environment.
For example, when you decide to no longer receive the tweets of a specific tweeter, you unfollow that tweeter.
And it was the action of unfollowing that was topic du jour on Wednesday because of a blog post by my pal @Lavagal. Someone unfollowed her, which is described in the blog post. Later, I reached out to that someone to ask what the criteria was that caused the unfollow. I was curious after all because I unfollow a lot. I keep a tight list of those I follow and whom I have following me.
I’ve been a part of Twitter since 2008 and for more than a year now, I’ve kept the number of my Twitter follower/following comrades at the same level –roughly 800 –on purpose. Not that 800 is a magic number, it’s just that that’s where my Twitter headcount seems to hover. I deny about 90% of the requests I get from those who want to follow me and I rarely follow new tweeters –but that’s neither here nor there for this post.
It was the unfollowing that was the subject of conversation –at least on Wednesday. And in the constant tending of thorns, weeds, and buds that is my Twitter rose garden, I look at a many number of highs, lows, and eeks that reach out to me from the thousands of tweets I flick through each day. From all of this, I unfollow; And sometimes I follow.
First, a few reasons that might cause me to unfollow folks:
- Minors. I do not follow and nor have I approved follow requests from those who are under 18. I’m not putting on a PBS edutainment show, nor do I aim any of what I tweet toward anyone but adults. Therefore, if you haven’t lived for at least 6,570 days, I’m not interested.
- Bigots. Folks who tweet thoughts of disparagement of others who cannot help themselves will not last long in my list. There are enough things in my life to worry about that I don’t need to be a part of or read anyone’s bullshit about why certain folks either should go to hell or why said bigot’s G-d said he or she is allowed to hate. Plain and simple: Fuck off!
- Dumbasses. Tweeters whose sensibilities nestle somewhere between the mentality of stars from MTV’s Jackass collection and pre-pubescent school children, I will not tolerate for long either. A snide remark is fine. A crude joke is acceptable, too. But when everything you tweet surrounds calling folks by other body parts or you never show –even for fleeting seconds –the part of your brain your mother insisted should be shown on family days, then I’m out.
- Stale. Stale can refer to two types of people. First, if I haven’t interacted with you in quite some time, I’m probably gonna ask you to collect your things and leave the room. And second, if your prose is full of utter crap that’s staler than a left-open bag of Hydrox, I don’t want you in the party.
- Boilerplaters. Folks who do nothing but retweet useless shit; Or who comment on quotes, other posts, or useless headlines and references won’t last long either. If it became acceptable to yell out loud while standing on the sidewalk useless drivel like “Be kind to yourself, the world loves you!’ then I might reconsider this stance. But until then, shove it.
- Jacks in the box. Someone who uses Twitter to wave ‘Hi!’ or say to ‘Hello!’ to everyone who passes within his eyeshot is someone I won’t keep either. If all I ever got were phone calls from friends who said “Hi!” but then proceeded to hang up, do you think I’d be friends with that dope for any time longer than what it takes to say “don’t call me ever again!”? Yup, voted off the island.
- Same-as-me folks. It is not substantially impressive to be categorised by the same traits in which I consider myself categorised for me to keep you hanging around. I don’t care if you consider credit unions superior to other financial institutions for everyday folks (as I do), nor do I care if you think a fiscally conservative politician rocks the day (as I do). If I needed similarities in the folks with whom I interact frequently, I’d attend a political convention or join a cult instead of let you lurk on my Twitter lawn. Thanks for coming! Buh-bye!
- Extremists. And here, I don’t mean fundamentalists who think way outside ‘the norm.’ I mean folks whose points of view tend to center on being the best or the shittiest. The vast majority of these folks use terms like ‘FML’ or ‘NFW’ willy-nilly. They may even project extreme glee with overuse of expressions like ‘OMG’ or ‘FTW.’ Ever watch a Saturday Night Live skit about ‘Penelope?’ Folks like Penelope fit into this category. And to these Penelope-ists, I say, GTFO.
- Pigeon-holers. Nothing to do with orifices [wink]. Instead, if all you do is place people into categories and imbue a feeling that you think folks are speaking out of turn or out of place, then the heave-ho you will go.
- Hyper-followers. If the number of folks you follow –or who are following you– includes a comma, the likelihood of my unfollowing you will increase. Further, if that comma-hung figure is made up of five or six digits, I’m probably not going to consider giving you a consideration. It’s simple: I don’t want folks who are here to collect numbers, nor do I want folks who beg, steal, or buy followers. These folks get the cherry-on-top that is called the “unfollow-and-block.” Piss off!
And of course, because I do enjoy the company of certain tweeters, a few considerations on why I follow the folks I do follow are also worth a mention:
- Conversationalists. If you’ve got things to say, know how to reply, and enjoy the interaction that is a bona fide conversation, I’m there. I’m following.
- Experts. If you’re an expert in something –anything! –I’m happy and rather enjoy reading your tweets.
- Considerate antagonists. I enjoy debate and I appreciate considerate advocacy of opinions or stances opposite of my own. It’s refreshing.
- Comics. I fully believe in making a joke out of everything –yes, everything! So folks who can find the humour or lighter side in any situation, I welcome. If you’re deft at showing your comedic talents in 140 characters or fewer, I’m there for sure.
- Owners. I don’t care what you own –like a store or restaurant. Rather, I mean if you own your opinions, your causes, and your points of view and live in a consistency that is palpable, I’d like to follow you –and I will do so willingly!
- Benevolents. If you’re gracious, warm, and generous in your spirit, then I’m a happy fan of yours. What you hold dear or where or for what cause you’re most gracious is not at stake here, it’s that you’re inclined to be the source of support is why I’d want to be a follower.
- Financial industry junkies. Definitely a follow. I don’t mean a banker. Nor do I mean an investor. I mean a bona fide financial industry junkie. If you can cite sections of Federal Code from memory or if you can use the word ‘tranche’ in a sentence without guidance from Google, then I’m a definite follower.
- Motoring mavens. If you can pronounce and know who is attached to the name Csaba Csere, I’m your follower. Appreciation of a fine automobile is not everyone’s bag, I realise; But I enjoy owning and driving vehicles of all types and I enjoy the company of tweeters who don’t have to Google terms like ‘ECM’ and ‘b-pillar’ or who don’t have to ask what make a vehicle is when I say it’s a W220.
- Fatties. Not the overweight kind, the urbane kind. If you enjoy enjoying life with good food, good company, and good culture, I’d like to follow you.
- Fuckers. No, put your penis away. Rather, if you let fly the occasional curse word –hell, it can be every other word (I don’t specifically look out for or seek it, I’m fine that you do. You may also not ever utter a swear word, but if your tolerance for conversations that include them is under control, then I’m happy to follow you.
Life is inherently dynamic so these ten thumbs-up and ten thumbs-down considerations don’t exist in vacare absolutus. But I certainly take note of who exists in my Twitter world and more generally who’s around me in the realm of social media that I occupy. Because it’s from this world that we all act as bouncers as @Lavagal acts for the discotheque that is each of our ‘IRL’ spaces. How else would we know which person from Twitter, or anyone from any of it if at all, gets a pass through the unhooked velvet rope and onto the dance floor of a shared meal?