Social media is a fascinating phenomenon to watch on a daily basis. You’re taking interactions that used to happen between one person and another, and putting them online, often in full public view.
The thing about relationships between humans is that they change. People move on, change jobs, break up, fall out, or just become interested in different things. So, from time to time, we all make changes to our social networks, removing people that no longer ‘fit’ for one reason or another.
And let’s be honest, there’s sometimes something very cathartic about unfollowing someone who gets on your nerves, or muttering “see ya” as you click the ‘unfriend’ button on Facebook.
What I find fascinating though, is how many people are compelled to know when someone has unfollowed or unfriended them. Within weeks of Twitter launching, there were services that could send you an email every 15 minutes, letting you know that Samantha Smith unfollowed you at 2pm, right after you Tweeted that link to the Young Conservatives website.
And now Facebook is following suit. Just one day after launching its new timeline feature to developers, someone has worked out that you can now use the Timeline to see who has unfriended you on Facebook.
Marvellous. But who cares?
I must confess, I’ve never used a service to see who follows or unfollows me on Twitter. Everything on my Twitter feed is public and if you find it interesting, you can read it. If you don’t, then that’s okay, too.
Similarly, I sometimes see my Facebook friends fluctuate, and figure I may have been unfriended by someone but I have never known who, which tells me it’s probably not a close friend or relative, and it’s nothing anyone felt the need to tell me about – so why worry? Most likely, it’s someone doing what I do from time to time, which is realising I don’t know who someone actually is, and removing them from my account.
Fundamentally, I think seeking out this information is massively counter-productive. It’s only ever going to go one of two ways:
OPTION A: Become Little Miss Needy
Oh dear, Sam has unfollowed me, and I always thought she liked me, but she obviously thinks I’m really sad and boring and, oh, she’s probably right, I’m such a loser and even the people who are still friends with me probably don’t really like me, they just feel sorry for myself, I can’t go out today, I’m just going to hide under my duvet with my real friends, Ben and Jerry. And Mister Spoon.
OPTION B: Become Little Miss Nasty
I can’t believe Sam unfollowed me. Bitch. Well, obviously I’m unfollowing her and unsuscribing from her blog. And I’m going to Tweet something about how disappointed I am in the nature of friendship. Ha! That’ll show her. And I’ll block her on Twitter so even if she sees sense, she can’t follow me again. Yeah. Then I’m going to change my Facebook status to say that I’ve unfollowed some people I don’t like, without saying who or why. My REAL friends will support me. Now I come to think about it, I’ve never really liked Sam. What a loser. Everyone hates her. I should use social media to make sure people know about the REAL Sam.
See? It never takes you anywhere good. It strikes me that these services are the virtual equivalent of punching yourself in the face. Repeatedly. So my advice if you’re ever tempted to look at one of these things is simple – STEP AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.
What do you think? Do you ever look at who has unfollowed you? Will you be checking out who’s unfriended you on Facebook? Does it matter?