A Story about Online Connections and Reading Every Update

A Story about Online Connections and Reading Every Update

One day a few years ago, a new Twitter friend sent me a direct message.

“How do you read everything in your Twitter stream?” he asked.

I laughed out loud. Then I shook my head.

He asked a serious question. I wanted to give him a respectful answer.

But I couldn’t believe that he would even try to read every update in his Twitter stream.

At the time, I followed a couple of thousand people on Twitter.

The friend asking the question followed a couple of hundred, I think.

I told him outright: “I don’t read everything in my Twitter stream. It would be impossible to keep up.”

In a longer conversation, I might have explained to my friend how I filter information on Twitter to pay attention to selected people and topics. I might have told him how I rely on serendipity to lead me to the “right” connections and updates. When I occasionally read my general Twitter stream, I do so with an attitude of discovery: what might I find, in these few moments, that matters to me. I read with the hope of making a difference for someone and finding a new connection.

But I don’t — I can’t — I couldn’t possibly — read everything. Not then, when I followed 2,000 people and not now, following nearly 11,000.

Instead, I organize my contacts on social media platforms so I can connect meaningfully and regularly with as many people as possible. I spend focused time engaging and sharing with others.

I let the rest go.

Tell me about your experience with the overwhelming stream of information on Twitter and other social media platforms. How do you manage the content flow? Did you try to read every update when you first started? Do you try to read every update now? 

Filed As:  time, information overload

About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • I’ve gotten this comment a lot! I think some people new to Twitter do think it’s like email, where you should be trying to read everything in your stream.

    I was getting ready to answer your question in a semi-lengthy comment here…instead I think I’ll go over and do a quick 12 minute post on it!

  • It took me a long time to accept that I won’t read everything. When I did, I allowed myself to follow more people on twitter and it has been liberating to say the least. It is funny you mention serendipity. I don’t know if you remember when we started with Google+, I said that I was going to keep it as my quiet space and therefore not circle too many people? Well that policy has changed, and I circle back even if I do not think we have anything in common. Serendipity is the reason! The danger with surrounding oneself with too many like minded people is your exposure or view of the world is so much more limited. Serendipity has a low probability of occurring if one is surrounded by more of the same!

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