Twitter Is What Twitter Does

Last week, I unfollowed everyone on my Twitter list.  I was stuck in a twitter rut feeling like I wasn’t making connections, like all of these people and ideas were whizzing by and I wasn’t engaging.  After explaining this to a person I admire (John, don’t get a big head) he suggested to unfollow everyone and rebuild my PLN.  So I did.  And I am thrilled I did.

And I am not the only one.  Tony Baldasaro and Joe Bower did it as well this week.  Others probably have too.  And not because we think we are better than others, or because we don’t want to follow people, but because we are each making Twitter work for us.  And that’s the beauty of Twitter; we personalize it and use it the way we want to, not how others tell  us we should use it, and we need to get more accepting and forgiving of that.

I use Twitter to get inspired yes, but also to connect with people.  I have friendships now that are solely based on Twitter interactions and there are many people that I follow that are on my bucketlist to meet.  I use Twitter to unslump myself, to ask for advice, to try new things, and just like in real life where I don’t have a lot of friends, I don’t follow a lot of people on Twitter.  This is not because I don’t like people, I do like people very much, but I need to know a little bit about you to follow you.  And I need to have time to connect with you and give you attention.  So if I follow several thousand people which I did a year or two ago, I am not able to keep up.  I have no idea who most people are then and Twitter makes me feel like a superflous friend, like someone that doesn’t take the time to get to know people.  That is not what I want Twitter to do to me.

So in the last week or so I have been rebuilding my connections.  I have added many old friends, many new people, and I am exploring people to follow.  Being sleep deprived means I cannot remember all of the amazing people I follow so once in a while I realize (usually in the middle of the night) that I forgot to follow someone.  If that is you, I apologize, please reach out.  And if you would love to connect, please do, spark a conversation with me so that I can get to know you, I know there are many other wonderful people out there to follow.

Twitter, in the end, for me is about connections.  Yes, there is inspiration to be had, yes, there is learning to be gained, and yes, almost every educator on Twitter has something to offer.  However the strength of Twitter as a tool is that it is yours to use in whichever way you see fit.  There is no right answer to how many people you should follow or how you should interact  don’t be fooled by people who say there is.  Just like Twitter is ever-changing so are our relationships with it.  Make it your own, make it work for you, and don’t let others make you feel bad.  

13 thoughts on “Twitter Is What Twitter Does”

  1. I did a similar thing at the beginning of the year. I had over 3000 followers and realised I knew very few of them, and that Twitter was no longer what I needed it to be. I needed a clean break, and I started a new account.Now Twitter is working for me.

  2. I, too, have been whittling my "following" list down looking for more depth in my interactions. I haven't unfollowed and started over–too drastic for me. Instead, I'm slowly culling the list down to something more personal, more social. I'm happy to follow other people and make new connections, but there must be a real connection. Following just to follow…seems to lack a real purpose. That just won't do–at least not for me, not right now.

  3. I love this idea. Twitter is so much more about individual connections than about "number of followers." The best part about Twitter is that the people we meet at conferences are JUST as inspiring in 'real life.' Love reading your thoughts on unfollowing everyone and starting fresh. I'm about ready to try… 🙂

  4. Pernille,I completely understand. I did this earlier this year with Facebook (I unfriended many people/colleagues, knowing their might be repercussions in real life, simply because I didn't really KNOW them). I continuously "unfriend" on Twitter for two reasons: 1) sometimes I get annoyed listening to people's opinions on irrelevant or opinionated posts, (when most my objectives on Twitter include edtech PD, motivation, inspiration, or humor), and 2) It's too much to read through many irrelevant topics. I witnessed a nasty discussion last week between you and another Tweeter, and I can't understand how people could be so rude; especially someone they don't know or they have never met. As a teacher, I enjoy reading your Tweets and Blog posts. I find them inspiring and I enjoy reading your views about certain topics. (It all started with the "no HW" blog a while back…thank you for that). Thank you for posting this blog. If it's okay with you, I may use this Blog post as a reference in both a Blog about Twitter/PLN use, and a possible Presentation about using Twitter for PLN & Edtech PD. I always appreciate your views, and I honestly feel you set a positive example for teachers and bloggers by and having strong reasonable opinions and sometimes backing them up with references. I'm not sure if you were following me on Twitter, so I'd reach out if I knew….but again, I understand your blog/view…everyone has a reason for following on Twitter, and I may not fit your need. That's what I've learned is so great about Twitter. Thanks again for sharing all your thoughts and experience…and thanks for this post. It's all made a huge difference in my life as an educational professional. -Gary

  5. I, being on the lighter end of followers and actively cultivating relationships on Twitter, am still in a state of adding to my following list. But it evolves: I sometimes unfollow if I find over time the connection isn't there or a certain person's feed feels over time more like clutter in mine than something upon which we can engage. It is fascinating to watch this discussion evolve.

  6. Shawn,I think your thought about "people's feed…clutter" is very well put. I would agree.One difference between you and I, correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be actively seeking "connections," where I'm not seeking connections; I'd say I"m seeking more relevant information to my needs…but again, everybody uses Twitter for different reasons.Like Krissy mentioned, Twitter is more about "number of followers." I would agree with that. On one hand, it's kind of cool to see so many followers…but when you dive deeper into the followers, many are just companies or people trying to sell their products to experts in specific fields. The flipside to that, is while they follow you, it offers us Tweeters an opportunity to keep up with the latest trends/products. Often I am torn on whether or not to follow companies who follow me. I believe most of the time their sole objective for following is hopes I'll follow back so they can sell a product/service, but I can't be 100% sure.I do have to admit, there is a "little" part of me that feels flattered when one whom I consider to be a highly regarded expert in an area follows me…but again, it goes back to their objective…and what if for them it was simply a numbers game….some people follow thousands of people, which brings us back to why this blog was written…time to "unfollow."

  7. I am sorry I haven't responded to everyone until now.Mr wicks – Yes, I think many people get to the thousands of followers and realize that it is just too many. Not everyone but some. I know once I am past 500 I have a hard time keeping track and get overwhelmed. I am impressed with starting a new account, that is not something I think I would do.Phillip – due to my restructuring you are one of the people that I have reconnected with and I am so happy about it. The project you told me about this morning has already made me think of what I can do to have students open up. Krissy – Yes individual connections! That way when we go to a conference we can actually recognize people.Gary – I just connected with you on Twitter because I have the energy to follow new people. I am already seeing this as a great new start to new connections. Yes, I know which interaction you are referring to and I am always shocked that some people troll others. I figure it is usually best to take the high road even if I am fuming. Oh and before I forget you may use anything you wish, that is why it is there after all. Shawn, I started where you are, I remember following 10 educators and waiting for them to tweet something and then writing to them right away and being so disappointed they didn't answer me right away. I, of course, had no idea they were probably engaged in many conversations. I am back to the excitement of building new relationships, having the energy to reach out. Thank you for reaching out to me.

  8. Pernille,I'm so glad you said that Twitter works because of how you choose to use it. I unfollow if I see negativity or too much (what's too much?) from someone regarding what they ate or where they are or… I do use Twitter for only PD and making educational connections as much as I can. I've learned how to weed out your fashion blog posts from your educational ones, and Dean's ramblings from his useful tweets, but other than you two, I try to go strictly professional. It works for me. I've been aggravated at those who have some automated tweet about how many people unfollowed them, asking, "Did I do something wrong?" because it really should not be about the followers, but about who you follow and connect with.This is my first school year on Twitter, and I felt bad about in following people when September began and I had no time to even check in with Twitter. So I created a list of those I had to unfollow, just so I could follow them again in June! It's been interesting to see how people are continuing this discussion in their own blog posts! I love the diversity! I'm sure I'll be referring to your post, along with at least 5 others in February when I've hit one year on Twitter. It will be a good time to reflect and see what I think then! One of the great things about Twitter is the way my thoughts evolve as a result of the people I follow!Thanks again for your thoughts!Sincerely,Joy

  9. It's my first year on Twitter also. It will be a full year in December. Yesterday, I was going through all my posts, and my first post was a link to this article: How Twitter is Changing Professional Development for Educators agree and I've also learned to weed out the unnecessary Tweets…but sometimes its too much. I felt bad for a while "un-following" too, but it's good to know I'm not alone in wanting to un-follow. I also need to remind myself it's not FB, where the follow doesn't have to be mutual. This blog is the motivation I needed to charge through my list this week and unfollow dead weight.I also get kind of aggravated when someone posts a link, and the link doesn't work. I am wondering if their account is just randomly auto-posting links. With this situation I immediately want to unfollow, then I wonder if it was a mistake.I also didn't know the "Did I do something wrong?" posts are automated. That's good to know. Thanks for the insight. I mean, that's a question to discuss, does auto-tweeting decrease the (what's the word…integrity, validity, purpose, value…) of Twitter or the Tweeter?

  10. I'm glad to see that I made the cut (I think), though I have not been very active on Twitter lately. I can't make sense out of it right now. It's not just the clutter. It's the sense of relevancy. My world this year is so different from the world described by the techies. It just doesn't fit for some reason.

  11. This is all a very good idea. Streamlining an incredible resource like twitter every so often is crucial. I have been following you for a while and I appreciate you following back. Hopefully we can learn from each other.

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