Taking It Personally

Sometimes things happen to us on Twitter that hurt.

Out of nowhere, somebody who you thought you’d made a connection with unfollows you.

Or perhaps something you shared comes under attack from another person. It might not even be your content, but because you sent it out, you’re the messenger and you get the blame.

Maybe a user who you thought was a friend suddenly bad-mouths you to somebody else. Or criticises you in front of their entire network.

It’s hard not to take these things personally. It’s a virtual world, but we’re still real people, with real feelings.

Rudeness is rudeness, and should be dealt with appropriately, but unfollows are a unique kind of pain – one that involves your pride. And when your pride is hurt, it stings.

Here’s my advice:

  1. Take a deep, deep breath, then
  2. Have another look at the relationship

Maybe it wasn’t what you thought it was. Maybe it was never anything. Maybe you were just paying lip-service and never made much of an effort to engage with or help that person.

Perhaps it’s a one-way connection. We can’t all be interesting and wonderful to everybody all of the time. Sometimes, one person has a lot to teach another, and – much as we like to think it should – vice versa doesn’t always apply. Teachers can learn a heck of a lot from their students, but not every student has something to teach.

Or could it be that they’ve actually done you a favour? Maybe there was no connection there. Maybe there was a relationship once, many months ago, but it’s now served its purpose. Maybe you didn’t even realise you were following that person.

Bonds on Twitter are often fleeting. Mostly so, in fact. You exchange a few tweets with somebody else over a period of hours or days, and then never communicate again. Twitter is all about keeping your network optimised and relevant, and that rule applies to you and everybody who you’re following, too.

So, if person X is doing a clean-out, and you get caught in the drift, then yes, it can hurt, but it doesn’t have to be end of that relationship. Certainly, unfollowing that person simply because they unfollowed you isn’t the most mature of reactions. But if you’re unfollowing because the relationship has come to an end, then it’s absolutely the right call. And all credit to them for making it first.