Twitter is Like Dating, Not Marriage

September 18, 2011 · 13 comments

in Twitter

Twitter is like dating, not marriageMutually following someone on Twitter is like dating. You go for a while, learn about them, and determine if they are someone you want to have in your life. If their stream is positive, adds value, and is something you enjoy showing up in your timeline, you continue to follow them and “date.” If you detect negativity and find they no longer add value, you break off the relationship by unfollowing.

It may be that your “tastes” have changed, or you decide to do some social media spring cleaning.

The dating process may be entered into without a conversation. You don’t ask,

“Hey, would you like to go out with me?”

You follow someone either you learned of their reputation, saw someone else recommend or retweet (RT) them, or because they followed you. You follow because you thought there would be value in what they share. Just like dating, you go out with someone because you think spending time with them would enhance your life.

Stages of Twitter Dating

  1. Awareness – You learn of the person on Twitter.
  2. Background Check – You read their bio, determine if you have something in common, if they have tweeted content you feel is interesting, if common friends follow them.
  3. Relationship – You click “Follow” and begin the Twitter relationship. The relationship may continue for months and years. There is no contractno marriage license. You’re free to continue to follow and date or to decide you no longer want that person in your stream.
    • Two-Way Relationship – If they followed you first or subsequently follow you back, then you are dating.
    • One-Way Relationship – If the person is not following you already, then you have sent a signal that you are interested and want them in your stream.
      • CAVEAT: That applies if they know you are following. Many have turned off Twitter notifications, like myself, and don’t regularly look at new followers.
      • If you want a two-way relationship, RT what they share or @ them to enter into conversation.
  4. Break-UpBreaking up is so hard to do, sometimes. You may simply get tired of seeing posts from this person. It may be their constant Foursquare updates, their attitude, language, or that they use generalizations and call people names, etc. Whatever the reason, you decide it’s time to stop dating.
    • You do the break-up dance and “unfollow.” You don’t have to go to divorce court!
  5. Stealth Dating – There is an alternative to breaking up. You can put the person into a list, and never view that list. That way they think they are still dating on Twitter, but really, they are completely ignored.

Real-Life Breakup Story

I “broke up” with someone I’d been following for months on Twitter. We had a couple interactions. It felt they were a bit antagonistic, but I shrugged it off. We didn’t @ or RT each other’s stuff. We had mutual friends and both work in search. That’s about the extent of commonality.

  • I noticed quite a few tweets I didn’t agree with. (Oh, well, not a big deal.)
  • I noticed more tweets then decided it was time…
  • I did the break-up dance and unfollowed them.

Here is the tweet I received the next day:

Tweet after unfollowing

This tweet confirmed I had made a good move by unfollowing. Decision verified!

How would you have responded?

I decided to avoid getting a divorce lawyer. We were not married!

“‘Till unfollow do us part.”

Twitter represents the oddest form of dating.

  • It’s common to have no (or little) interaction with people whom you are dating.
  • You don’t have to send a “Dear John” letter or announce you no longer want to “go out” anymore.
  • Many will simply accept the “unfollow” as a signal that interests and people change. Others become bitter and lash out like a bad divorce.

Just remember, in social media, everything you do and say is part of your profile. You are judged by what you share and what you push to your stream. As the saying goes:

Better to remain quiet and be thought a fool
than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Why do you follow and unfollow people on Twitter? Do you take it personally when someone unfollows you or shrug it off?

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