Just yesterday I was asking on Twitter if there was a way to unfollow everyone at once. There’s no tool on Twitter itself, so I was hunting for an app that does it.
One of the accounts I manage has become so unruly with the number of people it follows that I can’t use it as a tool. I have lists for a variety of topics (reporters, emergency services, etc.), but it’s hard to know what’s happening in our feed that could be of importance to us. So I started examining if I should just start over.
And then that night I caught on my feed how Mat Honan, senior editor at Wired, had unfollowed everyone. This morning I caught up with his article about his reasoning of unfollowing everyone and starting over.
He’s certainly right about how starting over can be hard, and that’s true with anything, not just social media. And he’s also correct in that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook should allow you to restart again. Imagine if you could delete every photo on Facebook at once?
Long ago I stopped trying to “catch up” with Twitter. I had always tried to catch up and then my follow list started growing. It got harder to catch up. Then I read an article on some blog (don’t remember who wrote it or where) that said Twitter is about what’s happening now, not what happened two hours ago. What great conversations are happening now? And that helped me let go of trying to catch up. And the advent of lists helped further with that so I could break down my list so I can go there to find the information I seek.
But even with the philosophy of “don’t catch up” and having lists, it can be hard to keep up with Twitter and the excellent conversations. I follow 700 people. I’ve looked away from my Twitter feed for 15 minutes and when I turn back there are 100 or more updates, mattering the time of day. I don’t read them all, but it’s hard to keep up with conversation.
I can’t say there’s a perfect number of people to follow. I used to say I didn’t want to follow more than a certain number of people. I held fast to it for awhile. Then I gave up.
But I do think it’s important to evaluate who or what you’re following on Twitter. Is everyone providing you with good conversation or information on Twitter? Or are there people who just provide noise and nothing of value to your Twitter experience? It’s advice I give reporters about social media so they can continue to use it as a proper tool. But even if you use Twitter as more than a reporting tool (it is social media, after all), it’s good to evaluate.
But it takes time to evaluate those accounts and review them all. I’ve taken a hour or more to go through my Twitter following list, even if I do it on a regular basis.
At some point I think we all need to think about hitting reset, as we do with everyone and everything in our lives. I don’t think I’m at the point where I’m ready to unfollow everyone. There are far too many people I love interacting with on Twitter and still others who make me smile. I’m afraid I wouldn’t find them again if I unfollowed them.