Here’s a column I wrote for the Guardian, but they didn’t want it. Which is madness, as it’s FANTASTIC! (Joking. Possibly.) Anyhow, I hope you enjoy it.
I love Twitter – but as with all love affairs, there are frequent moments of pain and heartache, and these occur whenever I’m jilted. Not by a lover, necessarily, but by a person I follow and admire – a Twitter user who previously requited my virtual love by following me back.
Unfollowing someone with whom you have a tacit but mutual ‘following’ agreement is the ultimate diss. It’s the grown up version of that kid you idolise at school announcing that they no longer want to be your friend, because you smell of poo and stole their ink eraser.
However, this being adulthood, the action is less blatant and straightforward, and more stealthy and passive-aggressive. Unsurprisingly, no one on Twitter has ever extended to me the courtesy of informing me they were intending to unfollow me, nor listed any reasons for my impending culling.
Accordingly, I have generally discovered their indiscretion via my grubby secret use of an app that tracks unfollowers. I’m not proud of this in the slightest. It’s the social media equivalent of checking your dodgy boyfriend’s texts while he’s in the shower – you’re always going to stumble across something you don’t like.
When you see on this app that someone you like has experienced enough displeasure to bother unfollowing you, it feels like a sucker punch to the guts. A moment of shock, pain, confusion and then anger – accompanied by a sharp retaliatory jab of the ‘unfollow’ button.
Then comes the investigation – which tweet prompted the offended Twitter user’s departure? It tells you a lot about them. I have scared off a right-winger by tweeting approvingly about Gay Pride (good riddance) and a left-winger by saying I was happy for anyone to culturally appropriate my Indian heritage (I cared enough to delete the tweet). Some people leave after one of my hilarious puns, which is understandable and probably for the best.
Whatever the reason for the unfollow, though, it means an immediate and generous deposit into my brain’s Grudge Bank. The Bank has an infinite memory – I swear that even when I’m on my deathbed aged 109, unable to remember my many great-grandchildren’s names, the fact that Mellanie Jampson unfollowed me after a tweet about elderly Brexiteers sitting in their own wee shall remain etched on my consciousness.
By this point in the article, you could be forgiven for exclaiming, ‘For the love of God, woman, how sad are you?! Have you got no real problems in life, that you need to focus on such trifling matters?’ And this is the part where I reassure you that yes, I have loads of other problems thank you, but I still find room in my massively intelligent brain to care about unimportant slights on a micro-blogging network.
You see, popularity or the lack of it matters to me now, as I had zero friends as a kid – and not just because I smelt of poo and stole ink erasers. But if you’d like to hear more about this particular tragedy, you’re welcome to follow me on Twitter.
This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Sammy and Jelly, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Aragorn Strider, Lucy Spencer, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Mark White, Dave Cross, Graham Nunn, David Conrad, Rob Turner, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.