Person First, Author Second – Why I don’t Autofollow on Twitter

I have a love-hate relationship with social media, and none more so than with the Twitter (I exclude Facebook as I’ve never particularly loved it, it’s more of a necessarily evil, used solely for catching up with relatives and distant friends). I’ve left it on at least two occasions that I recall both times for the same reason.

In the words of Willow Rosenberg, a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend, so please don’t take this personally – it’s not directed at you, not personally. The problem I have with it is this obsession people have with following back. This “I followed you, you must follow me” attitude has left me wanting to smack my head against a wall on more than one occasion.

Now I understand that everyone likes to see they are followed. It’s flattering – like someone asking you out on a date even if you’re not interested in them. However you don’t then throw a tantrum if someone politely declines. Over the years I’ve had quite a few (other authors in the main… hides behind pillow) who have hurled abuse at me for not following them back, or unfollowing them if I’m not that interested in the content that they’re currently sharing. I’ve often found myself saying “hey, I still keep an eye on you via a list” but that doesn’t suffice for some. One particularly virulent tweeter prompted me to leave altogether!

There’s a few reasons why I find that sort of behaviour objectionable. First, it’s just plain rude. Second, auto following doesn’t mean you will achieve your objective. Following you doesn’t mean they will engage with you. If they are auto following everyone who follows them, how the heck do you imagine they will notice your tweets amongst their already over populated timeline? As a PR and comms professional in my “day job” this has me alternating between face palming and sadness. In a drive to just get followers they are missing out on the true joy of Twitter – engagement, cat videos and chatting to people who aren’t your friends but share your interests and even values.

Then there’s the primary reason. Yes, I’ve written a few books and yes I’m currently working on another, but there is so much more to me than that. I am lucky to be blessed with an amazing family, lots of interests and a deeply fulfilling day job. I want to share that with people and share information that will help those interested in those things too. I want to see what’s going on in my local community. I want to get angry about the same political and social issues. I am more than one aspect of my life and Twitter as my primary social media platform is when I live it online.

That’s why I won’t auto follow you. I might follow you. I might list you. I might do neither. It’s not that I don’t think you are a nice person, or deserving of social media attention – it’s just that there’s so much going on out there that I can’t notice it all. If I did, my head might implode.

Of course, the majority of authors and general folks I’ve virtually met on Twitter are perfectly lovely and I’ve made some wonderful friendships and supporters along the way. That’s why I set up a specific Twitter account dedicated to books and supporting authors. If that’s what you want then follow me there – otherwise you might find yourself just finding out what I had for dinner, a rant about parking on pavements or pictures of my cat

So if you want ME as person, follow me at , but if it’s promo support you’re after you should probably follow me at my author support account at


2 thoughts on “Person First, Author Second – Why I don’t Autofollow on Twitter

  1. Sharon E. Cathcart says:

    In the earliest days of Twitter, I automatically followed anyone who followed me. I’m much more discerning now. I did a clean-out just the other day, in fact. I’d rather see information that interests me, and people who actually engage, than just “have the numbers.”

    • Helen Treharne says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I have developed some lovely friendships and contacts via social media, but I don’t think I would have if I’d had to hunt for content in a cluttered timeline

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