Pruning The Twitter Tree

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(Note: We're starting a new occasional feature on social media and its emergence in both business and personal relationships. And the blogs themselves will be much more entertaining than that description, we promise.)

 It all started out so innocently. "We're from the same hometown!" "We made a real connection at that event for 0.865 seconds!" "She collects mid-century stamps featuring famous men she'd sleep with, too!"

It's a match made in heaven. Witty, engaging, prolific. You're sold. You click the "Follow" button.

Months pass, and you've wrung your exasperation straight through your fingertips. What began as a torrid love affair planted in fertile ground has devolved - into being privy to the intimate details of his bisexual Schnauzer's irritable bowel syndrome. Or the mundane goings-on of every tedious step of her pre-workday routine. Including a mind-numbing analysis on the merits of one-ply or two-ply toilet paper.

This isn't what you'd bargained for that fateful day you followed said user on Twitter. You feel betrayed. You feel violated. Your pure, idyllic yearning for all things Twitter has been soiled with the cold, hard realities of a Twitter stream that now gets no more than a passing glance at best. Soon, you're missing social engagements and major life occurrences, and everyone's holding you accountable on their collective watch.

Sounds like it's time to prune that Twitter tree.

Yup. As with any relationship, Twitter arrangements sour, too. You know, like on the morning after the fourth date, you rolled over to find him picking his nose? And wiping it on your pillow? Yeah. C'est la vie. Same with Twitter. What was once spirited and retweet-worthy now forces your migration to FriendFeed, where you created an account only 'cause Robert Scoble was doing it.

What can you do? Break out those pruning shears, honey, and get to trimmin'. Sure, you'll lose followers (you attention whore, you), but you've gotta pare it back down to the hilt before you lose the sword altogether. So to speak.

Who sinks or swims in your Twitter stream? Ask yourself:

  1. Do your eyes glaze at the mere sight of some Twitter handles? Save your index finger the workout and cut 'em loose.
  2. Always catching someone in mid-conversation...with everyone else? If someone's using Twitter more like instant messenger, the constant replies get annoying. Either jump into the ring with 'em or jump out of the way altogether.
  3. On the flip, are someone's tweets completely one-sided? No matter what is said, they never, ever respond to anyone? Unless you consider 'em your personal Gandhi, shed the excess fat. Stat.
  4. Tweet after tweet after tweet, bam bam bam bam bam, all in a row? A diagnosed case of the Twitter pukes. If you can stand the deluge, grin and bear it (don't forget your raincoat). Wanna see more than one icon straight down the page? Pull the plug.
  5. You're subscribing to their drivel, but they're blissfully ignorant of yours? Check the noncommittal Friend or Follow, or surrender your password to Nest Unclutterer or Less Friends to find out what's up with the people following (or not following) you. Remove as vindictively necessary.
  6. Do you work with one of the above? Does the user make paycheck contributions (i.e., is the twitterer a client?)? Too bad, mama. You're stuck with the nose pickers on this one. Invest in Kleenex stock before Great Britain gets to it first.
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