To Follow, or Not to Follow

Frank Chimero:

The new criteria is that I will follow you on Twitter if I would help you move. If I’m willing to carry a box full of photo albums, kitchen gadgets, and spare blankets, I’m probably also going to be interested in hearing about how it’s annoying to file receipts, in seeing photos of your coffee, and in knowing how it smells like wet dog on your subway ride to work.


A lot of people don’t get Twitter. They say, “I don’t want to read about what somebody is having for lunch.” For a long time, I agreed with them. It wasn’t until after I joined Twitter that I finally understood how valuable it is.

The amazing thing about Twitter is that it can be as useful or useless as you want it to be. Twitter doesn’t force you to read about what people are having for lunch. If you, the user, choose to follow people who tweet such inane minutia, then yes, you will have to put up with that. But the better option is to only follow people who make quality contributions to your timeline. For example, I follow a bunch of writers and minimalists and nerds because I care about what each of them has to say. So much so that I’m willing to put up with the occasional tweet, as Frank Chimero says above, about something that doesn’t interest me. Like when John Gruber tweets about sports.

Unlike Facebook, where you’re socially obligated to accept someone’s friend request or risk offending that person, Twitter is not a forced two-way street. You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you, and just because you’re following someone doesn’t mean they have to return the favor. There’s no fake virtual friendship to maintain. You’re either following someone, or you’re not.