Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Your followers are people too.

I have a high tolerance for information. 

I receive, on average, hundreds (if not thousands) of emails each work day. I respond to probably ~100. I read the tweets of over 200 people. I read the Buzz updates of ~150 of my co workers (I don't use Buzz form my personal account, more on that later). Every day, I consume hundreds of Facebook status updates, Reader items, news articles, IMs ... well, you get the idea.

Working on Google Reader for 3 years really sharpened my consumption skills and made me seek out the most efficient interfaces, or better ways of consuming applications online that have sub-par consumption interfaces.

I consume so much information on a daily basis, I've become an expert sifter. If some bit of information doesn't interest me, I skim it and move on. No emotional response whatsoever.

I'm capable of sifting, sorting and attending or ignoring nearly every type of information in nearly every interface except one.

Twitter status updates.

I'm trying to figure out why I get so worked up when I see updates that I can't stand, but can't un-follow and can't un-see. I get really worked up about certain types of tweeters and I somehow can't bring myself to un-follow. Many times, because it could potentially cause a meatspace conflict if it's discovered by the other party.

Enter Brizzly's mute feature (thank the dear lord).

I don't know what my deal is this week, but I've muted 6 people in the last 6 days. Seeing these status updates actually impacts the quality of my life, and for some reason I cannot skim them with the unemotional robot precision that I'm used to with other information types (one day I "read" nearly 6,000 reader items).

I've identified the following tweeting-types that I've decided I no longer have tolerance for (If your twitter stream contains more than 15% of any of these types, you've been muted). Don't get me wrong, I've been known to violate each one of these every now and then, but my mute criteria is any one of the following types as an overwhelming majority of a single stream.

"Sensitive Introspection"
Artificially saccharine, introspective, meandering thoughts about the sky or the clouds, or a plastic bag floating on the wind. This is what journals are for, people. Write it down and keep it to yourself. It's called "INtrospection" for a reason.

"Trolling for attention"
"WOAH I'M WORKING ON SOMETHING SUPER SECRET THAT WILL MAKE YOU WET YOUR PANTS AND OMGWTF BBQ DON'T YOU WISH YOU WERE ME HOLY SHIT!" No, I'm sorry... No one liked it in grade school when someone said "I know something really important, but I can't tell you." Get a grip.

"Ultimate banality" 
I barely manage SMS to my boyfriend (whom I live with) that I'm on my way home. I DEFINITELY don't care that you are on your way home, or you are still at work at 10pm, or that you just ate some hummus. Please find a way to jazz it up, or just flat out make something up. Otherwise, you might find this page useful.

"24 hour complaint machine" 
There are some people I know who are just lovely to be around and have a drink with, but their Twitter presence makes me want to stab my own eyes out. Really? Is everything in your life shit? Or you just want to make my life shit too? I don't mind a little complaining in a twitter stream, but if every single tweet is a complaint it's super annoying. Your tweets are stressing me out and shortening my life. Give it a rest.

"Welcome to my corporate cult"
The culty work tweets are just creepy. It's OK to like your job. It's OK to love your job. But tweeting creepy and intimate things about how amazing your office is, or the work is, or your coworkers are constantly and how life changing it is, and how everyone should be like you and where you are now ... it's not awesome. Fondle your corporate schwag in the privacy of your own home.

"Travel Rants"
This is the WORST when people are going on vacation to some tropical island, and just non-stop BITCHING about delays, middle seats, no airplane wi-fi, etc. BY THE WAY: when you get to your destination, you'll be on a tropical island with fish tacos and margaritas and I'll be at my desk moving pixels around a screen. A video dedicated to everyone in this group.

"Workout/Running announcements" 
Did you just get back from a 37 mile run? A triathlon, you say? Oh, I was TOTALLY wondering how your new running shoes were working out. Phew, thank god that you made it on time to yoga, I was worried for a minute. Wait.... NO ONE CARES.

So there you go. I guess this is only relevant if you care who is consuming your stream. But I imagine most people's lives on the receiving end of these tweets would be much improved with a little less of the above.


Sue Anne said...

I disagree. I actually like the details about people, even if they're complaining. It shows their personality. All of us have quirks that some may find irritating, but that's what makes us human.

Kristine Gray said...

Jenna-You are my new hero. Thanks for so eloquently stating what I having been complaining to Louis about for the longest time. I am so tired of having to read about the minutiae of people's lives.

Jenna Bilotta said...

Sue Anne - Like I said, I don't mind any of these types in moderation. If a normally optimistic friend of mine sends a couple of complainy/distressed tweets in a row, i'll probably call them to make sure they are ok. But friends who are lovely in person, but just use twitter to complain is something I don't need in my life. So I unfollow, and just enjoy that person's REAL personality.

Also, this is just all of my opinion. Everyone is welcome to consume what they like, of course.

sckarolek said...

Love the link to "Stop Bitching"...thanks.