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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Loyal and other types of followers

I am a loyal Twitter follower. Once I start following you chances are I will continue to do so for years and years uninterrupted. If you are part of my universe you stay that way. You don't have to do a lot of talking. I don't mind. It's really all the same to me. I will continue to sit and watch the feed turn over on my computer screen for days and days, and weeks and weeks, and months and months. And longer. You might only appear from time to time in text but I will stick with you, that's almost certain.

But not everyone is so. I find I might quickly garner a bunch of new followers after a particularly busy session on Twitter, especially if it is accompanied by the use of a hashtag. Hashtags are great places to find new online friends. But then on the days that follow that session the number of followers will mysteriously start to go down again. Drop by drop. It's painful to see. I hate it, actually. It hurts and I want it to stop but that's the way things are. You just have to wait until everyone sorts out who they want to keep following. They might have gotten you to follow them, and then they drop you. Or they might have gotten you to follow them, and they stick with you. It all depends. People are all different and they all act differently on Twitter, especially when it comes to followers.

I won't stop being loyal just because others aren't however. That's not my way. You have to stand for something, and for me that means standing for a particular kind of online loyalty. Even if you have an argument with someone, for example, that doesn't mean you stop following them. You stand by your decisions through thick and thin. That's just my way.

It's a funny place to be, Twitter. It can move so fast, as we saw this year with the #libspill and #freekaren hashtags. These hashtags arose at different times in response to different events in the public sphere and ran quickly for a few days, then dried up and fell into disuse. But while they lasted the pace was furious, much faster than a mortal eye could scan them. Same with the #paris hashtag at the time of the November attacks in that city, attacks which drew the attention of the whole world. The feed for that hashtag accelerated to a point where new tweets were appearing every hundredths of a second. It was stupefying and humbling. There are so many people out there using this platform for so many reasons. Occasionally, just occasionally, they come together to participate as a group in a single thing, like this hashtag.

I started using Twitter in 2009 and it has been a companion for me over the years as I have lived my life in otherwise relative solitude, first up on the Coast and then now down here in Sydney. Sometimes I think I spend too much time in front of the computer screen - my back has certainly started telling me to get out and do more exercise. But the thing is that things are getting more active online, they are busier than they were before.

Nowadays I interact with more people on a daily basis, than I did in the beginning. There is a specific gravity to the enterprise, now that I have been involved for a few years, that there was not in the beginning. So I keep up with my contacts and see how they are faring. Their names change as they marry, they move cities for work or family, they get new jobs in different places. Occasionally one might pass away forever into the great unknown. But they are all part of my universe. In my universe it is important to be loyal. I am like that. I will not change just for some superficial reason. I have made my choice. How about you?

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