I've got around 500 followers on Twitter. This is a very flatteringly high number, considering I'm a fairly anonymous sort. Believe me, I am flattered. But I never got into Twitter to accumulate a following. I got into it through my friends being on it and them suggesting I join in. This was 4 and a half years ago. A lot has changed in the world of Twitter since then, to say the very least. Twitter now is a few steps away from changing the world itself.
But anyway, here I am, with 500 followers. I estimate that I personally know around 40 or 50 of them. Maybe less. Five-hundred is, seemingly, a sufficient number to give me enough of a "reputation" that some people notice if I stop following them. Some of them even send @ replies about it, batting their sad eyelashes reproachfully.
For heaven's sake, people. Twitter is not a social networking site, it is a microblogging site. It is THE microblogging site. It invented the whole mad concept. These are exciting times.
I blame the reply function. Believe it or not, the @ reply is relatively new to the Twitter party. In a lot of ways, I think it has ruined the whole business. It's undeniably useful for talking with your friends and keeping abreast of things you'd otherwise have perhaps missed, but it's also allowed the new idea of "twitter friends" to take hold, bringing with it the hideous mutation of all we held dear.
If you are a stranger to me and you decide that you'd like to read what I have to say, that's great, it's fine, follow me. But my obligation - our "relationship", if you will - ceases there. Maybe in time that will change. Maybe I'll like your tweets and follow you back. I check out every one of my new followers. Additionally, I've started and stopped and started and stopped and started following again any number of people in my time on the site. I may yet come crawling back, like a shamed lover.
The only constants in my twitter list are, naturally enough, my friends. For everyone else, in the final analysis I'm an avatar on a website talking (a lot) of old toot. So don't start giving me the bloody cow eyes. It demeans you and infuriates me.
This is the ultimate "it's not you, it's me" here, people. Twitter is a wonderful thing, if you know how to use it. People who assume 'following' has an implicit reciprocity to it do not know how to use it. I'll make personal decisions about who I want to follow, just as you should, can and do. A Twitter cull is so much nicer - so much less final - than a Facebook cull. People I don't follow can still follow me, still send me @ replies which I can still read and respond to. So in all of this sea of niceness, don't let's be getting antsy with each other. And especially not with me.