THE BLOG
06/09/2011 11:20 am ET Updated Aug 09, 2011

To Follow or Not to Follow -- That Is the Question

Today I unfollowed a great big famous author on Twitter.

I hear you sighing out there. "So what?" you ask, and roll your eyes.

Well, yes. In a rational world, "so what?" is the accepted answer when someone tells you they unfollowed someone on Twitter. (Actually, in a rational world, this last sentence would make absolutely no sense at all.)

People unfollow people all the time -- on Twitter, on Facebook, in life. We think someone's really interesting and then we find out that they're not. Or that they like a lot of things we don't. Or that they don't bathe as regularly as that first impression foretold ... and so on, and so on.

But here's the thing. I agonized for a full five minutes before finally hitting that "unfollow" button on Twitter. Because -- as I said -- this was a great big famous author.

I'm not quite as great or big an author. And Twitter -- and Facebook -- creates, among other things, the illusion that everyone is listening to everything we say, all the time. We Tweet, and we think the world is listening. We follow someone -- like a great big famous author -- and we think that we have a relationship, that this person follows us back. And so now is waiting, with baited breath, for every 140-character witticism we utter.

I honestly couldn't recall if GBFA followed me or not -- and of course, it never occurred to me to go check my Twitter account to see. Because I never check my Twitter account; I have no idea how many people follow or unfollow me. I see others Tweeting -- jokingly -- about people who suddenly unfollow them after a particular Tweet and I wonder how they know; who keeps track of this kind of thing?

But I'm not like other people, and so, my finger hovering over the keyboard, preparing to unfollow GBFA, I had this irrational fear that GBFA would instantly, psychically KNOW that I -- a non-GBFA -- had unfollowed her. And so would never be nice to me, or Tweet anything about my books, or blurb me, or write glowing reviews of my books, ever again.

None of these things, by the way, has GBFA ever done for me in the past. Of course, she hasn't. Why should she? I'm sure, in that rational part of my brain, that she is no doubt a very nice person but also, that, despite my sparkling presence on Twitter, she's never heard of me, doesn't follow me, and would not be bothered one bit by the knowledge that I had unfollowed her. I'm equally sure that should our paths cross in the future -- and supposing, of course, she had, in some outrageous series of events, known of my nefarious unfollowing -- she wouldn't hold it against me.

But there are moments when I'm not rational, and this was one of them. I actually went through the various "worst case" scenarios of unfollowing her -- the most dreadful being one in which she pulled up in her limousine to every bookstore in America and demanded that all my books be swept from the shelves, immediately -- before finally, reluctantly, hitting the "unfollow" button on Tweetdeck. Upon which I cowered in fear, waiting for the literary gods to strike me dead.

I waited for a long moment; nothing happened. So I got up and made myself a sandwich.

Now, I'm sure you're all dying to know what caused me to unfollow GBFA. What horrible, juicy, delicious, dastardly thing has she been doing on Twitter to cause me to dump her like last week's garbage?

It's really not that juicy, I'm afraid. It's simply the thing that causes most break ups. We've grown apart, that's all. She Tweets about things I don't care about. Things that I pretended to care about, back in the beginning, hoping she'd notice me. But enough time has passed and finally I understand I can't pretend to be someone I'm not just to get the most popular girl on Twitter to notice me, which she didn't, anyway.

So I dumped her, before she could dump me (or even know of my existence). I wish her well, and all her millions of Twitter followers, grateful for the chance to have been one of them, even for such a short time.

As Humphrey Bogart said -- and I believe I'm paraphrasing here, "We'll always have Twitter."

But if anyone sees a limousine pulled up in front of any bookstores, Tweet me, OK?