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Is 'Unfollowing' Someone on Twitter the New 'Dis'?

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Twitter won't tell you when someone unfollows you. The only way you'll know is if you check your followers and see that you're not on their list anymore.

When Rihanna stopped following Chris Brown, it was headline news. Apparently he dissed her (short for "disrespected her") in one of her songs and she said, "That's it, now you're really in for it!" and she un-followed him on Twitter. Ouch.

On Twitter you're just following someone from afar, sort of like stalking but in a distant and unattached kind of way. So why should it matter whether she's following him or not? It's not like they were friends on Facebook.

Apparently the social media status of all the stars are closely watched by their fans and by the paparazzi. It matters a lot to them. It was headline news back when Rihanna followed Chris Brown after he was physically abusive. And now, again, when she is finally cutting off the social media ties between them, it's gossip again.

So what does this say about how we interact these days? When we are hurt or angry we have several new options that we have never had before -- we can unfollow someone. When we're angry we can delete them from Twitter, although unless you're Rihanna this seems somewhat unsatisfying. Or we can "un-friend" someone on Facebook. That might be a little more harsh. In fact, if you said to someone in person, to their face, making eye contact "I un-friend you!" it might have more impact, but it wouldn't have the same anonymous satisfaction that doing something to someone behind their back does. Pushing that delete button and watching, say, an ex-lover drop from your Friend list may have a certain satisfaction that real life could never have. In reality you can't just hit "delete" and watch someone disappear.

One of the most devastating relational developments in the world of social media is the "status" bar on Facebook. Many relationships I know personally have been made or broken when someone changes their status from "single" to "taken" or "in a relationship with... " Status's signify a true commitment, maybe even more than committing directly to your partners face. And the opposite is true as well. Checking your partners FB page and noticing that they changed their status to single before they have the decency to let you know that you are no longer "in a relationship with" can be the end of any "taken, friends or Twitter following" forever.

And does this new way of relating to each other through social media really matter? I mean how many of those 1,347 friends on Facebook are really your friends? And of all the people following you on Twitter, do you really care how many stay and which ones go?

Is it a 'dis' if someone drops you? Or worse, blocks you? Maybe you said something mean or inappropriate or you tweet too often about what you ate for breakfast and the message they are trying to send is "shut up, sick of hearing about you."

Maybe there should be several categories of "un-follow" or "de-friend." One Option might be "I hate you, and I am unfollowing," and another option, Option Two could be simply "Bored with you and all you write," and yet another option, Option Three, might be "You did something to me that I am too chicken to say to your face so I am passive-aggressively taking you off my Twitter and Facebook lists so that I can feel like I am taking revenge on you but you may never notice and if you do and care enough to say something to me than I'll know that you really do care and that we really are friends and I'll say that I really had no idea how that happened and I'll re-friend and re-follow you immediately."

For Rihanna and Chris Brown, obviously, Option One applies. But for most of us that don't spend every moment having our Twitter feeds tracked by the paparazzi, we might stick to Option Two and Three. And we might even have an Option that allows the follower or friend to know if they have been a victim of our Option Two or Three, but then the whole passive aggressive option wouldn't really apply.

Think carefully about your social interactions on Twitter and decide who you want to stalk today. Delete those who you don't want to follow and take the time to enjoy deleting them. But be prepared to come up with an excuse when they notice that you've cut them off. You might want to try Option Two.

To follow me on Twitter, go to @drtammynelson where I may or may not follow you back. To find me on Facebook, go to "Getting the Sex You Wan"t where I have lots of fans or go to "Dr. Tammy Nelson" where I hardly have any friends.

Dr. Tammy Nelson is a world renowned expert in relationships, a psychotherapist in private practice and a trainer and seminar leader worldwide. She is the author of several books including "Getting The Sex You Want; Shed Your Inhibitions and Reach New Heights of Passion Together" and the upcoming "The New Monogamy; Redefining Your Relationship After Infidelity."

Dr. Nelson is a popular and engaging speaker sought after for international lectures and workshops on sexuality and human relationships. She can be found at www.drtammynelson.com and her Facebook page "Getting the Sex You Want" where she has almost 100,000 fans.

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