The Twitter Cleanup

In one of her Lord Peter Whimsy books, Dorothy Sayers has Whimsy talk about books in a person’s library. He says that they mark a person’s history and are markers of their journey – that we move from book to book like a hermit crab outgrowing its shell, leaving the old husk behind.

That is how I felt Thursday, when I reviewed my list of people I follow on Twitter.

There were the nerds from back in 2007 and 2008. The people who work in homelessness I found in 2008 and 2009. The theology people came next, followed by the activists.

They were all markers of the journey I have been on the last ten years.

When I moved to Raleigh in August of 2007, Twitter was my jam. It was all new and we were all trying to learn how to live in this social media world.

Twitter was just over a year old at that point, and had blown up in March of ‘07, after it was profiled at South by Southwest that year. Because that is where we heard about it, most of us in those days were nerds.

But over time it grew, and I would follow people with reckless abandon. And the more people I followed, the less I enjoyed it. What had once been fun became a chore, and all the incoming data filled me with anxiety. By the time Ferguson hit in 2014, I was done.

Once a year or so, I would miss it enough to go check in, change my profile pic, update my bio – but we both knew it was over.

I recently have been trying to be intentional with the place Social Media sits in my life. I cleaned up Facebook, and after siting with that a while felt like I might have the energy to reexamine Twitter.

As a result, I unfollowed more than 500 folks, most of whom were talking heads or people I had no relationship with whatsoever. Many of them I had just automatically followed when they followed me. (I never recommend you do this.)

I don’t know that this is the answer to my rejoining Twitter in an active way, but it already feels calmer over there. If you want, you can follow me there at @hughlh. I might even follow you back.