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The unfollowing is brought to you by politics

This weekend I "unfollowed" a dozen or more friends, colleagues, relatives on Facebook and Twitter.

What had been a pleasant diversion (funny cat videos), a source of interesting educational news, and photos from friends and family has recently simply become a swamp of political hysteria - from both my left and right leaning friends. I am glad there is the option on Facebook to "unfollow but still stay friends."

The folks I know who send the greatest number of these stories and links out are politically involved, passionate, and well-meaning. Many of the issues about which they care don't have a direct bearing on their own circle of friends or family so they are demonstrating care about the greater good. And I know I do need to stay informed, involved, and active politically  - maybe more so now than ever in my life. But a person can only take so much.

My unfriending task this weekend has caused me to reflect as well on what kind and how much stuff I personally post on social media. Am I as guilty of over sharing as those I have just unfriended? I try to limit my stuff to personal (grandkids), kind and actually funny humor, and interesting educational bits. Were I charged $5 a post and a buck a Tweet, would I send as much stuff out? Probably not.

In 2011, I wrote a post called TMI-Signs of over-communication. In it I asked:

I whack "over-communicators" regularly from my RSS feeds (those suffering from blogorrhea), my Twitter account, and from Facebook. I regularly suspend getting messages from hyperactive mailing lists like LM_Net. 

Some guidelines?

  1. If you had to pay a couple bucks for each e-mail e-mailed, every Twitter tweeted, or every blog post posted, would you still send it?
  2. Are you the sole source of this information or are you just passing it along?
  3. Is the information actually important or just "nice to know?"
  4. Is the message of interest to a majority of those receiving it?
  5. Are you communicating through channels that are "required" or "voluntary?" (We have one school e-mail list that is not optional for district employees to receive; another that is.)
  6. Is the message as succinct, clear and non-technical as possible with the reason for the message clearly communicated? 

Send or not to send - what are your criteria?

Are we doing our personal political causes a favor by automatically re-posting or sharing each piece of politrivia (I just made that up) that flits before our eyes? How do we learn to focus on the important? I worry that we spend so much time hemming and hawing about the latest minor stupidity that we may lose track of the major changes which are important. (I believe magicians call this misdirection.)

So, if you find I don't follow you, it doesn't mean I don't like you.

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Reader Comments (3)

Same! I was up around 500 or 600 follows on Twitter and I went down below 200. I'm slowly increasing it but it's a mush less hysterical mix. I also have turned off retweets for most folks unless I feel they are good at it. Some people are great at retweeting and some people just retweet everything.

Now I have a much more balance mix of news, education and fun stuff. I probably follow around 200-250 now but many of them don't tweet that much and the ones that do I can deal with. I also am not above muting someone who is a friend. That way they can still contact me directly if needed but I don't have to read their stream. It's not always about stuff I don't like either. There are educators I love but I"m just not interested in their musical or sports taste and don't need to hear about that stuff.

I've also found that some people who raise my blood pressure on Twitter (even if I agree with them) might be lovely to follow on Instagram.

You've always been a great person to follow because it's usually relevant and you never go on "Tweet storms." I probably retweet too much but I figure people can turn off retweets and be happier with my feed. I'm not worried about it because I don't have a super huge following.

One thing I don't understand is complaining to the people doing the posting. If you're following someone because you like their books or movies or whatever but you think they post to much about politics, then unfollow them. Don't complain about it. Writers and actors and such have as much right as anyone to discuss politics or anything else. I would never tell anyone else what to post, unless they are maybe misinformed or being harassing.


February 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJim Randolph

Hi Jim,

Good to know someone else is feeling the same overload that I do. There is a balance between obsession and the need to be informed and I expect that balance is a bit different for each of us.


February 16, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Jim,

Good to know someone else is feeling the same overload that I do. There is a balance between obsession and the need to be informed and I expect that balance is a bit different for each of us.


February 16, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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