Please know that this is not one of those self-righteous, narcissistic posts that shame people for not being as cool the author thinks he is. Promise. 

I learned long ago that you can’t get along with everyone. Even if you try. No matter how nice you might be, there will always be people with whom you don’t gel. That’s life. It’s cool.

I also learned long ago how to let people go. Maybe it was my time in the USAF, before digital connectivity, when we’d have monthly “hail and farewell” parties on base for the people who’d come streaming in and our of our lives. Or maybe it was my decade wandering North America searching for angels, but mostly finding the opposite. Either way, there have been plenty of IRL friends in my life who I shared a firm handshake with, said goodbye, and never heard from again. That’s life. It’s cool.

When you combine the ability to let go with the awareness that you can’t get along with everyone, it means that I’m able to part ways with people on Twitter fairly easily.

Since 2008, I’ve made some amazing friends in the social tubes. Not just acquaintances, but real friends. Friends I’d trust with my darkest secrets. These relationships have usually started out on Twitter and then migrated to other platforms. And I’m talking about people I’ve never met and whom I may never meet. Not that I wouldn’t if I could, but I’m cool with exclusive virtual friendships.

I can’t imagine not being friends with these people. They’re part of my life. Even if I only see them on my phone and computer. What we share is dialogue. And through this dialogue our relationships grow.

I’ve been unfollowing people on Twitter recently. Not some mass kill-off, mind you, but just people in my stream with whom I’ve never had any dialogue. Active people who drive in a parallel lane separated by a solid white line.

And it’s ok. We don’t have much in common, when you think about it. If we did, we’d have spoken before. But either you don’t say much that inspires me to engage you, or vice versa. So what’s the point of following each other? Sure, you might have me filtered out of your stream, but even if that’s the case, why follow at all? I don’t care about the numbers.

Twitter used to be a platform of authenticity. Now it’s more a news feed,  traffic generator, and self-promotion engine where you only engage with people who engage you first (if then), or people who can help advance your professional brand and commercial endeavors.

Not that you do Twitter like this. And if you do, and we follow each other, then it’s weird that we ever followed each other to begin with. Not that there’s anything wrong with how you do it.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Look, I don’t care what you share. And I’m not going to unfollow anyone because they have differing opinions. Hell, I’d say 30% of my friends are dissenters to how I see things. But they’re interesting. And they engage. And they’re polite and eloquent. They provoke me to think differently. And that’s a good thing.

So no, I don’t only follow people who think and act like me.

Granted, I don’t have 600 close friends in my life, but the people I do follow on Twitter need to be people I actually feel something for. Really, there’s no right or wrong way to use Twitter. Everyone’s different. So just be yourself, and the rest will sort itself out. Which might mean not following each other there.

That’s life. It’s cool.


Jim Mitchem

A Good Lie

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.