Although Twitter is a net positive for me, the past year has often left me struggling to enjoy its use. As 2014 came to a close I started to unfollow a lot of people. To do this I had to come to terms with the fact I am twitter completionist. Just as with getting all the stars on Angry Birds or even eating the last strange dark sweets my kids don't want, I just have to read every tweet in my stream. A stream that is serval hundred messages every day. A little voice tells me if I just casually glance over messages I will miss some vital tweet that leads to fame, glory or a funny video.
The criteria I used to unfollow was roughly:
- Does this person tweet rarely? If so they can stay.
- Does this person tweet a lot? If so is the majority personal or technical? If it was mostly personal then unfollow.
- I follow a number of people in other countries and they will tweet about various cases of injustice. These stories really bother me and if I could do something about them I would. However I have zero influence over things outside of the country I live in and maybe my original home country. So I have decided to reduce who I follow that tweet non stop about issues I have no influence over. I am trying to make more of an effort to take part in local affairs though. And not slactervism in the from of tweeting. For example at the end of 2014 I joined a local demonstration to push back on a proposal to end the special art and music classes for kids here in Oulu.
- Does this person tweet pictures of dead or dying children? This is one of the major bummers of 2014. Now that most twitter clients show a large thumbnail of any linked image you cannot avoid these. Yes war is terrible. But it is possible to care about social justice and many other issues without pushing horrifying photos to people that follow you. At the end of the day people can tweet what they want, just as I can choose who to follow.
Now there has been several exceptions. But it has reduced my stream by a subjective 80%. Even on days Where I only check twitter once in the morning and a couple of times in the evening it is quick and easy to read any new messages. Much less time goes on reading twitter and I don't feel like the ills of the world are pressing down on my shoulders. I might have a compulsion to read everything, the fact people who I don't follow might be saying brilliant things turns out to not bother me at all.