06 March 2009

Fun with followers

I try not to get caught up in Twitter numbers because they are meaningless. But I can't help admitting to a little thrill when I've approached a round number -- first 100 followers, then 200, and now nearly 300 people may read my tweets. Thing is, I've been hovering around 285 for a while and my follower numbers will go up by a couple, then down by a couple. I think what is happening is that there are people out there (and you know who you are) who try to build followings by following everyone they can find, and some of those folks presume you will automatically decide to follow them back, based on the assumption that everyone wants to broadcast as widely as possible, to be found on as many nodes as possible, to build a following as fast as one possibly can. I, however, don't automatically follow someone who looks to be advertising their business rather than offering a unique perspective or service in their tweets. And I think what happens is if I don't follow them back immediately, they drop me. If you're on Twitter, do you find this pretty typical?

But I am having fun with the same kind of thing I enjoyed when starting and continuing to write here in these blogs. It's nice to have a place for things. Despite my chaotic heaps of objects, I still believe everything has a place, and like my blog, Twitter has given me a kind of new drawer in my desk for items of a certain size and shape that had been piling up or getting lost in the shuffle of life. Only it's like the wardrobe in the Narnia books: it's a drawer that leads to a new universe. Put something in it and 285 others can see it if they want to. All I know is I care about it enough to write it down.

I do know someone who would utterly despise Twitter for its signal-to-noise ratio. He couldn't abide the cheerleading about brands and bands and stuff. But he's a professor who needs a certain space in his life and doesn't have interest in going around telling others about every new book he reads or the food he eats or the last brand of shoes he bought. He's pared down his goals: family life, teaching, writing books. He doesn't have time.

For others, however, people like me who are acutely interested in all sorts of details of everyday life, Twitter is a boon (and a lot of other things, too, of course, not all of them good). I find it fascinating to see what other people tuck away in their magic universe drawers. But not necessarily all other people.

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