Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Follow the white rabbit

I recently stopped following some four hundred people on our favorite Twitter network. Not because i suddenly discovered I dislike them or anything, but because I decided that my two timelines needed to be diverged. And thus, diverging happened - my English account stopped following a lot of people, and my Swedish one took on these very same people. The result being more or less plus/minus zero.

From where I'm sitting, things are looking as they've always had. The same updates come from the same people as before, and the only difference is that they now happen in different timelines. And that the two are, as it were, a tad bit less interlingual than before.

There are reasons behind why I did this, but they are not as interesting as the fact that people left and right are starting to unfollow me. Not for anything I said, but because I unfollowed them. And that makes me think - why do people on Twitter follow each other?

Now, you may or may not know this, but my Twitter output is rather weird. It's Horses and Tulkus and infoecology and a thousand other strange things you really wouldn't want to explain to your parents in a dark alley. And it's brutally in your face, so you really can't miss it - that follow button is a big deal for your timeline.

In short - you either like it or unfollow it. Which many a new follower have noticed, just moments before they became new unfollowers.

So, I unfollowed most of my old Swedish mates, in order to diverge the timelines. And moments later, they started to unfollow me back, for no other reason than me not following them. Which made me think - are/were people following people they don't like in order to live up to their end of some unwritten social contract? Do people feel obliged to follow people back, just because that's what you're expected to do?

What have I done to these people all this time? And how did they stand being forced to expose their digital eyes to my strange ruminations, just to fulfill the unwritten rule "if they follow me, I follow them"?

I don't quite follow this logic. But apparently it's at work out there in the world. For some, strange reason. -

1 comment:

  1. I think many people see the following on Twitter a great deal as friendship. Just as most people would find it uncomfortable to be followed around on the streets, they might find it uncomfortable being followed around by people they don't really know. Or think that since that person is trying to be their friend by following them it would be rude and impolite of them to deny the thing they think is some sort of friendship.

    I think that people are in the end trying to apply what they know from AFK and the analogue world on a new, digital medium where another culture is beginning to form. When someone AFK says it does not want to be one's friend any more, one usually stops talking to that person and interacts with it as little as possible. If this is the case, then responding with an unfollowing to someone who unfolloed you makes a great deal of consistent sense.

    One day, things might get better. When a new culture has fully formed.