Dear Mega-Twitterer: there’s a reason I didn’t follow you back

[Exploring the question* of whether meaningful conversation of any sort, even brief, can occur on Twitter.]

***

Dear person who follows 140,980** people on Twitter and decided to make me number 140,981. I appreciate you choosing to follow me, I truly do. On some level at least.

I see that you also have 136,074 Twitter followers. Congratulations on such a large following.

You may have noticed, though, that I did not follow you back and bring your number to 136,075. Then again you might not have noticed. I mean, it must be hard to keep track of these things when you follow so many people yourself. It’s about relationships, right?

It’s not about relationships for you? What? You mean it’s about numbers? On Twitter?! I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

Social Media – social or media?

I’m new to social media. I just started this blog a year ago, and  created Twitter and Facebook accounts just this past summer. I don’t have much personal experience to go on.

Going by your own tweets, dear Twitter follower, you appear to love Jesus, love his people, and have a good grasp of doctrine. So why wouldn’t I follow you back?

Because for me social media is for being social more than it is about media. It’s about being communicative more than just making connections. It’s about relationships more than it’s about building a tribe.

Especially that last one. If anyone reading my posts or tweets ever thinks I’m tribe-building, please take me aside and shake some sense into me.

You see, Jesus was into relationships.

Come to me when you’re tired, he said.

Let me hold those children, he said.

I want to hang out with you, he said.

I want your comfort and support, he said.

Relationships are important in Jesus’ kingdom. Another way of looking at it is that the kingdom of God includes the relationships God’s people have with each other.

So I try to use social media in a way that builds relationships. I love to read the comments people write about my blog posts, and I try to respond to every comment that is amenable to discussion (and even some that aren’t).

For Twitter and Facebook, I like to read what people write because some of it is informative, some of it’s encouraging, some of it’s funny and some of it reveals something about the person. And then I try to respond to messages in a way that shows my appreciation or support or that might possibly add to the discussion.

But I don’t use social media in order to follow the thoughts of everyone who might have something worthwhile to say. And that brings me specifically back to you, dear person-with-a-hundred-thousand-followers-who-follows-a-hundred-thousand-people-yourself.

I looked at your tweets. You say interesting things about God. These are the types of things that I like to respond to and build a dialog with. But I don’t think that’s what can happen between us. I expect that any attempt to engage in meaningful communication will just get lost among the hundreds or perhaps even thousands of messages and tweets you must receive each day.

So thank you for following me. Please understand if I don’t follow you back.

Cheers,
Tim

***

*Aimee Byrd read through this post and helped me frame that question. Thanks Aimee!

**The numbers used in this letter/post are real, and the person who followed me really exists. I can’t make this kind of thing up, folks.

***

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3 Responses to Dear Mega-Twitterer: there’s a reason I didn’t follow you back

  1. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    I like the way you put this, Tim: social media being more about the social than the media. I feel that way too. There are a few accounts with huge numbers that I follow for fun (like Honest Toddler and Man Who Has it ALL 🙂 ) — but in general I like to follow people with whom I seem to have something in common or that I can really learn from. When a person with 50,000 followers follows me, most of the time I don’t flatter myself that that person wants to read my content or connect with me– I can only assume they are following in order to get a follow-back to add to their stats. If that’s what they want to do, fine, but I am not using social media for that reason.

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