I love Twitter. I really do. I love the absurdity of it all. The fact that sometimes you actually miss key plot developments in Doctor Who because you’re too busy tweeting about Karen Gillan’s hair. But I’ve also made some great friends on Twitter, meeting up with them after months of tweeting and being delighted that they’re just as I expected – only with skin and a pulse.
There are downsides of course. There are the occasional Twitterspats, the misconstrued comments and the nut-job stalkers. Then there’s the emotional roller-coaster of The Unflowers (which does itself like something from Doctor Who right?).
Foolishly, I use an application to unmask mine and it pulls no punches, referring to followers I’ve had a relationship with but lost as Ex-Friends (the rest, including spambots and suspended users, it simply describes as Unfollowers).
To date, my Ex-friends have included a famous singer (it’s a long story but let’s just say I kind of deserved it); a colleague I worked with years ago who is now a leading light in the fashion world (I was once her boss but suspect it wasn’t a long-held grudge about a pay-rise that triggered the divorce but my critical asides about London Fashion Week); a powerful figure in the male grooming industry who unfollowed me not once but twice; a PR agency I deal with regularly (their loss) and two high profile beauty editors. One happens to be someone I know and rather like, which is a shame, and the other is someone whose patronage I would never have expected anyway – and as it turned out never got beyond two and a half weeks.
People’s reasons for dumping you are varied of course. Sometimes it’s simply because you tweet to much or too little (you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when it comes to Twitter, trust me). Or perhaps they love it when you talk about your specialised subject but not when you veer, as one might in real life, off the subject of moisturiser and onto such topics as politics, pets or Tulisa’s bristly armpits. Some simply unfollow you because you don’t follow them back but such needy types you can do without anyway.
As anyone who tracks their unfollowers will know, each loss hurts a little. You wonder what it was you said or did to make them hate you. Invariably you never find out. Even when you do ask (and trust me I’ve inquired for the sheer joyous hell of it) all you get is ridiculous red-faced excuses about ‘rationalising timelines’ or similar disingenuous nonsense.
I’m telling you all this for a reason, especially if you use Twitter in a professional capacity, because just as following has its benefits un-following has its drawbacks. Social Media is not like real life. It operates by different rules. In real life, a friend can go off you and you may never know why. They can delete your number from their mobile or cross you off their Christmas card list without you ever finding out. But with Twitter you can see that rejection in action and on a very basic level it can damage the relationship you have with people. If you use Twitter for any sort of professional gain (to gain influence or promote your brand for example) this is a real minefield, with obvious consequences. I mean, if you prick me do I not bleed?
Mind you, things could be worse. I was discussing this very subject with a Twitter pal of mine the other day and she told me she discovered her own brother had unfollowed her! As an only child, at least I don’t run that risk. But I swear, if Boy George ever unfollows me on Twitter I will cry. For days.