I had a bit of a crisis of faith in social media a while back, and seriously backed off until I felt I could re-approach it on my own terms. And I’m still working on it. This all may seem a bit melodramatic, but I genuinely think that there is something of a sense of obligation (real or just perceived) that can come thickly spread on every social media platform. Do I follow everyone who follows me, even though it means my twitter feed a) is full of stuff that doesn’t interest me and b) goes by so fast that I miss all the stuff that does interest me?? Just because I want to be nice?
I’ll tell you what I’ve figured out for sure: If you’re not getting out of it what you want, you shouldn’t do it. If it makes you feel bad, guilty or obligated, you should vote with your feet. If it takes more than it gives, it’s not for you.
There’s a reason they call it ‘spending time’, you know! Minutes are the only real currency we will ever have. I refuse to spend mine on something that makes me feel negative.
I know why I hang out with my mates – they’re nutters and I love them (see photos of us ‘being seals‘). That is also why I love social media. It’s fun. (Okay, informative, powerful, thought provoking, but mostly just FUN – and often pretty GENIUS.)
I asked myself what I want to use twitter for, and what I want to get out of it – what do I love about it, and is there a way to cut out of my experience the things that I don’t like about it? One overwhelming thing that has improved my twitter experience is this: I don’t follow famous people.
Okay, there are about ten exceptions:
- Richard Branson because he’s the most positive person on the internet
- Stephen Fry because he is a national treasure
- Richard Dawkins because he’s spectacularly sane
- Caitlin Moran because she’s a badass bitch from Wolverhampton
- Victoria Coren because she’s the smartest person on the internet
- Brian May – because badgers (and space, and rock)
- Casey Anderson because he’s a rare find in American wildlife film making – NOT a wanker
- James Wong – token botanist
- Dara O’ Briain – hilarious, clever
- and Michael Moseley because he’s awesome (and adorable)
But with the exception of a handful, I find most famous people to be self-promoting and in-genuine, and I’d rather spend my time with real folks, living real lives, doing real jobs. By and large, if famous people post something awesome, it is usually retweeted by someone not famous that I follow, as I tend to follow people who share my interests. And that’s the POINT.
If you post about foraging, sci-fi, knitting, photography, astronomy, bats, basketry, bees, beetles, Darwin, Whitman, Thoreau or dinosaurs, then you’re right up my alley – I’ll follow you any day. I’m also not afraid to un-follow people that post ignorant, racist, sexist or, well, just boring stuff. I don’t want to upset anybody, but I’m not about to either censor myself or ruin my own experience by exposing myself to stuff I don’t agree with. Neither do I argue with people on Twitter – it’s just not worth feeding the trolls.
Twitter is awesome, and I am crafting the buzz. See you there?