On Twitter imbalances, being a people hoarder

#BooksMyJobGaveMe Podcast, Journalism, The New York Observer

Alright, full disclosure. I hoard. I hoard people.

Before you Google episodes of “True Life: I Hoard…People…?” (spoiler: they don’t exist), and consider signing me up for an intervention (please don’t, it’s my last semester, and I don’t got time for that), remember back to about a year ago when I discussed the airy sensation that accompanies purging your inbox, or FINALLY downsizing and consolidating all of those newspapers)? Remember that?

Good.

Now remind me.

Gather around kids, I got a story to tell.

A couple of years ago, an editor at the Observer and I went out to lunch, and discussed the industry a bit. I remember we were in the Times Square station, standing on the platform of the N-train, heading downtown for sandwiches. “How many people do you follow on Twitter?,” he called over his shoulder. “I don’t have a Twitter,” I said, confident in my decision to stay out of the social media fray. I had a Facebook account for my friends, and a fledgling blog linking to my articles and work. “You don’t have a Twitter???”

Ohshit.

I looked down at my ballet flats and the yellow paint on the platform edge. I felt like a child, a kid playing at cub reporter, comfortable in my ignorance, and technologically stagnant. “Ok, you need to start following 1,000 people on Twitter,” he said, before going on to explain how vital Twitter is to information, breaking news, stories, journalism, and so on. “When you follow 1,000 people on Twitter and can read your entire timeline, it’s a good start.”  We returned from lunch about a half hour later, and I registered @BrionnaJimerson. He was my first “follow”, @weareyourfek.

In the beginning, I looked like a spambot.

Serious.

@BrionnaJimerson had 3 followers–only writers at the Observer  and one pornbot–and followed about 328 people, publications, and journalists within the first week. The imbalance began.

I followed my writer crushes, newspapers, magazines, and essentially copied the “following” profiles of writers and friends–big-name columnists, up-and-coming BuzzFeed writers (remember when Buzzfeed was up-and-coming??), TV people, journos, mentors–everyone. I started to hoard information, and I didn’t care that I only had 12, then 13, then 20 followers. I wasn’t there to talk, I was there to listen.

I hit the requisite 1,000 this past October, over 2 years after I started. One afternoon I sat back in my computer chair and scrolled through my connections. Who were some of these people?? Some of them were “insecurity follows” as I call them–folks I followed because, well, everyone else was following them, too! (Can. you. say. lemming.) Others were my literary idols, and still in the mix were over two dozen outlets, and friends.

I still looked like a spambot.

Fastforward to present day. I sit comfortably at 725 “following”, after dedicating the better part of a Friday night in November to cleaning out my Twitter, and taking stock. 725 may be a bit much to some, but for my purposes (to listen and learn, and tweet when I damn well feel like it, and when it’s relevant), a reasonable number for now. Most of the pack are journalists, fierce black women doing their thing(s) in varied industries, scholars, publications, companies, bloggers, and friends. Oh, and out of courtesy, I “follow back” some of the pornbots. Don’t want to damage their self-esteem.

But seriously guys, I’m a Twitter hoarder. Cutting back from 1,000 felt …dirty, like I was launching folks into the wild unknown of the interwebs/ out of my monkey sphere. I kept imagining myself as the old guy from Up!, cutting balloons off of the house, one by one, and the house sinking closer and closer to the ground. Ok, I’m not a house, and Twitter isn’t a collection of balloons that are somehow capable of raising a structure and floating to South America, and this metaphor has gone on too long, but still!

So, I came up with a solution. To most right-minded folks, this is called common sense, but to a Twitter hoarder like me, it was a freaking breakthrough:

Ok. Ready? Ok.

Follow….people…whose tweets…interest me.

Ok. I’m still here.

So, that’s where I am now! Time to fix my Twitter hoarding by thinking long and hard and critically about the sort of information I care about, need to know, want to know, should know, and find valuable. It’s only Twitter. It’s only a website. It’s just life. -_- It’s not so much that I mind following a ton of people, it’s just that I don’t want to look like a spambot anymore. And it would be great to declutter my online self. It’s about quality, not quantity. Right? Or does that only apply to dim sum restaurants and internships?

#liesItellmyself

Adventure is out there,

B

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s