I've been feeling very protective recently about my own little corner of The Attention Economy. Especially on social networks. The main reason I choose not to follow someone initially or unfollow down the road is a low level of compatible interests. When someone follows me I scan through a couple of pages of their most recent tweets. If the vast majority aren't interesting to me then I don't follow back. It's nothing personal. It's not a value judgement of their worth to the social network at large. It's simply a calculation between my available time and the relative personal value I see in their posts.
That said, my unfollow gun has developed a hair trigger when I see multiple narcissistic no-value tweets clustered together in my stream. Then it's BAM, BAM, BAM!
Kurt Vonnegut's first rule of short story writing is even more applicable to social network posting: "Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted." Of course, we all have different perspectives about the kind of communication that's worthwhile. But it seems to me there are categories of posts that are inherently garbage to the majority of readers:
- Location check-ins
- Marketing tweets from a third-party online service
- Klout, Empire Avenue or other social media scores
- The song you're listening to, food you're eating, or TV show you're watching
- Sports scores
- Ambiguous Emo posts
- Long strings of tweets without waiting for a response
- Retweets of other people tweeting your praises
It's easy to treat a social network like a free ride in a Self-Amusement Park, repeatedly riding the roller coaster yelling, "Woohoo! Look at me. Look at me!" But being on a social network is more like hanging out in a pub where everyone wears headphones and communicates through microphones. When you speak, no one can avoid listing to the first couple of words. So eventually, if you hog the microphone or babble on about things your fellow networkers don't care about, people are going to mute your channel out of self-defense.