My Own Filter Failure

It’s been a long time coming, but I have to fess up and admit it: I am suffering from filter failure. In my dive into social media, I forgot one very important limitation: myself. As much as I wanted to FRIEND/FOLLOW/CIRCLE/RSS ALL THE PEOPLE, I crossed a line where the tool moved from being useful to information cacophony. With the ease of adding people and feeds, it’s not one of those situations where is becomes obvious that you have gone too far. No, it’s been building up for awhile and only in the last few weeks have I realized what I had done.

While unsubscribing to email lists and blogs is relatively painless and easy, there is a certain apprehension that fills me when it comes to the people on Twitter and Facebook. It’s the unfortunate paradox of not giving too much thought to following or accepting a friend request, yet really not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings by removing them from either. “Sure, I’ll be your friend, random internet quasi stranger!” is how it starts, but the negative connotations of exclusion and unfriending make it feel like the most public kind of snub. Perhaps it is the term ‘unfriending’ that makes it seem so dire and such a commentary on the relationship. There is no easy way of saying “I no longer want to be your friend, even though if I took time to examine the depth of our relationship I could only describe you as a remote acquaintance at best” because people will stop reading right at the comma. The rest of the sentence as well as the context and meaning is lost after the comma.

But, at the end of the day, if I don’t feel that a tool is useful, I will ultimately discard it. Since I want to keep them, it means that I will have to steel myself and dive headlong into lists of friends, followings, and circles to come out with something a bit better for myself. So, to a unknown number of good people out there, I say unto you, “Nothing personal, but I need to get back to where my social media works for me.”

Let the weeding begin. 

14 thoughts on “My Own Filter Failure

  1. I’ve gotten a lot of flack over the years for my limit on Twitter, around 300, though I’m up to 350ish right now. But the thing is I can’t follow more and use Twitter effectively. Kudos to those who can, but I can’t. I’m not elitist or a snob I’m using a tool the way it works best for me. Good for you for drawing boundaries!

    • The funny thing about following 1,200 people is that the majority of the people really don’t tweet very much. It’s a huge number but in the context of my actual stream it doesn’t really reflect it. However, even then it’s just too much. I need to bring it down under control. Also, I should point out that you can make lists of people you want to still follow but not have in your main stream. I think it’s the list making process that has me feeling overwhelmed by the process.

  2. I desperately need to do this myself, as all of my accounts in one way or another are a mess, but I’m choosing to ignore it and stick my head in the sand. :) Good luck!

    (Except for John – you should totally stop following him. ;))

  3. One of the best things to recently happen to Facebook is how you can unsubscribe from someone’s feed without unfriending them. Sometimes I feel passive-aggressive when I unsubscribe from someone, but usually I think it’s brilliant.

  4. Lists, lists, lists. I would suggest that the list making process doesn’t have to be an ordeal at all. You can do it slowly, because it’s simple to add people to lists one at a time and/or every now and then. You’re right – it’s much more daunting to sit down and all at once try to categorize all your friends into different lists for each service you’re using. But it really doesn’t have to be an “all at once” thing. Doing it “on the fly” works too. You’ll get there eventually, and you’ll probably hit a point where it naturally makes sense to stop.

  5. Having said that, it’s tactically not wise to unfollow someone who might give you a nice present or card shortly before Christmas or your birthday.

    (You’re getting neither from me, if it helps makes that Unfollow decision up :-) )

  6. I’ll offer a perspective based on the connection you and I share: Mystic Realms.

    On Facebook, I occasionally get friend requests from folks I knew in MR. Yeah, I walked the trails with them, made them perform in the game pretend rituals, perhaps even made them jump through the hoops to satisfy the whims of my character’s role as head of the Wizard’s Guild. That was more than seven years ago.

    There are a few with whom I want to sustain a connection, especially if I connected with them in some other context outside MR. Otherwise, I’d like to say “I haven’t seen you since 2004 and even then we didn’t know each other; our characters knew each other.”

    I accept their friend request, so their feelings aren’t hurt. Then I immediately add them to a Facebook list such that they can’t see my posts. From their perspective, I’m silent.

    So when I unfriend them a few months later, they don’t notice.

    You know, now that I think of it, I never see any posts by you in Facebook…

  7. It’s OK if you want to unfriend me, although I hope you won’t! I won’t take it personally. I’ve intentionally kept my FB friend level at a manageable number and have hidden posts from certain people, such as old classmates who looked me up (especially the ones I didn’t even have a crush on – sheesh!)

    I see “friends” as analogous to my physical address books. Every few years as I migrate names to a new book, some names don’t make the leap and that’s OK. The problem with ether is that we never run out of space and the “pages” never get worn out, so the natural culling doesn’t take place.

    So cut if you must. Now that you’ve announced your intentions, I’m sure we’re all going to be watching. Merry Christmas!

  8. Using the lists feature in Twitter to to hone in on types of conversations when it all feels cluttered or chaotic. Lists and specific streams (i.e. tlchat, edchat, sc peeps, scasl friends, geektribe, etc.) Of course those lines become frequently blurred too. Not sure what the solution is. I cant bring myself to end twitter friendships. But something had to go, and for me it became Google plus for now…. :(

  9. If you defriend, unfollow, or otherwise disconnect yourself from me Andy… We’re gonna have some words at some conference somewhere and I’ll be forced to buy you beers until your are drunk enough to refriend and refollow me. :)

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