Twitterranting: On Ego Pedestals and Auto Following

istock_pedastalIf you have something important to say, do you say it? Or do you discuss it? Who do you talk about it with?

These questions came to mind recently as I watched people on Twitter use the social media tool as some personal soapbox to talk out at the world.

Note that I said talk out, not talk with.

What’s Your Thing?

Granted, we all use social media in the ways that feel comfortable to us. I use Twitter as my local hangout. I talk to people because I want to get to know them better, or because I find them funny or interesting. I want to socialize and rub shoulders.

I want to chat, have some fun, and make friends. Almost every morning, I hop onto TweetDeck and open up the airwaves to socialize with whoever feels up to it at the time. That’s my thing, and that’s the way I enjoy using Twitter.

Of course, I also promote my business, demonstrate my expertise, and gain some notoriety, sure ā€“ but I don’t make a mission of self-promotion. Yet, so many others do.

I see many others use the social media tool as their egotistical pedestal. They tweet self-important words of wisdom. They don’t answer replies; they don’t discuss.

These people never seem to speak with others ā€“ but interestingly, they always seem to be talking. They listen to the sound of their own voice and love it.

Sorry, that’s just not for me.

Follow You, Follow Me?

Another perception I find irritating is that some Twitter users put strings on the ‘follow’ feature. They feel that if they follow you, you should automatically follow back as a courtesy.

I don’t get it. There are almost 1,000 people following me. If I followed them all, their voices and conversations would become nothing more to me than white noise, the tuned-out thunder of voices in a noisy bar.

Why would I want to start tuning people out?

I don’t. If I’m going to follow people, I want to be able to stay involved in their conversation and pay attention to what they say. I can’t feasibly manage the conversations of 1,000 people at once, so I have to make some choices.

“Why should I follow you if you won’t follow me, James?” That question was posed recently, and it’sā€¦ well, a little silly, if you ask me. Why should I justify following me? Follow if you like. Don’t if you can’t find your own reasons for doing so.

If you follow me just to get me to follow you back, then that isn’t about conversation. That’s about collecting names.

I’m there to talk with people who want to talk with me. The @menwithpens door is open any time, and I always do my best to reply and engage in conversation with anyone who taps me on the shoulder.

All it takes is a few exchanges over a few days before I start to look forward to more conversation.

“It’s a mixed message, James. If you follow, you’re showing you’re open to conversation.”

That’s ridiculous. I’m on social media, and I’m present and chattering away. It’s a given that I’m open to conversation, no? Maybe I can’t listen to 1,000 people and follow all the tweets, but I sure can have direct one-on-ones with plenty of people.

After all, I am the Comment King.

So here’s the thing:

If you just sit there and tweet your numbers or your oh-so-wise words of wisdom but never talk to people unless they talk to you, you’re gone. I have better things to do than watch you love the sound of your own voice.

If I reach out to you and @ your name [Edit: a few times] and you don’t respond [Edit: ever], I really see no point in continuing to follow you. You aren’t using Twitter to have conversations; you’re using it to talk out. You’re gone too. I see no reason to keep talking to someone who ignores me.

If you follow me and get bent out of shape because I don’t automatically follow back, then there’s not much I can do about that. It’s a YOU problem, not a ME problem, and I consider you introspect why you feel upset when you can’t control the actions of others. Also, I don’t like friendships that come with strings.

If you want me to justify why you should listen to me, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You either want to listen because you find it beneficial or entertaining, or you don’t. Besides, I don’t want people to listen to me. I want people to talk with. Big difference, folks.

Someone on Twitter told me, “You want conversation but you want it on your terms.” I had to think about that for a minute before deciding that she was right. I choose to use Twitter for my personal benefit. I have flexible terms, but I’m not there to please anyone but myself, really, and the day it stops being fun altogether, I’m out of there.

Your turn. Let’s open up the comment section. Think I’m wrong? Think I’m right? Share. How do you use Twitter? What do you do with it? What are your opinions, pet peeves, and views?

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.