But how do I figure out who to follow back? Why not follow everyone back in a frenzy, eyes rolled back blindly like a Great White through a bloody sea? A couple of reasons. First, people look at who you follow. How do I know this? Because I look—and I’m hardly a ground-breaker. Second, following spammers makes them look more legitimate and allows them to profit. And if anyone is going to profit off me, I’d rather it be me, ffs.
So here are my lists, which may or may not help you sort through the tweet-chum.
Escorts & Cam Models. While other people are on Twitter for sex, I’m not. Even if I were in the market for some hot pixel time, I’m going to assume that you’re some underpaid dude in a click farm on the other side of the world. So, nope.
Bots & Spammers. Your avatar picture bears a startling resemblance to Demi Lovato or Tay-Tay Swift, but your name is Oasis Gentrify or some other nonsensical combination that is clearly male…or something. You use the same blue header photo as a thousand other accounts. You are a spammer. Nope.
True Twits. You followed me, and I’m trying to return the favor. Instead, I get your TrueTwit blocker. If I have to go through more clicks, some trial-and-error typing of an irritating advertising slogan, I’ll pass. Unless you’re a literal rockstar or Nathan Fillion, I’m not jumping through hoops just to be polite. Sorry, nope.
Haters. This year is for you. It’s an election year in the US, so you can spew your angry rants all down people’s timelines. Just not mine. Nope.
Lonesome Doves. It’s cute you think a social media platform like Twitter is still for socializing. Your tweets are close-up photos of your face in mirrored-sunglasses or wide-angle shots of you in skinny jeans standing in front of…is that a Moped? I understand you’re looking for a girlfriend, wife, money, a job, or citizenship. If I were a dude, I’d follow you back. But I’m not a dude, so following you back implies encouragement. So, nope.
Writers. Your bio says “author,” “writer,” or “blogger.” Yes, a thousand times, yes. What if you write erotica? Yes. What if you write donkey porn? Yes. What if you’re a web cam model who loves Creationism and writes donkey porn? Still yes, even if you literally write using your boobs. Writing is writing. I’ll support your double-D efforts.
Motivational Speakers, SEO Experts & Hawkers of Crap. If you sell services or stuff on Twitter, I’ll follow you. Betamax tapes on eBay? Yes. Stinky, direct-home, pyramid scheme candles? Yes. You’re trying to make a living or finance your spaceship to your home planet or whatever. That’s cool.
YouTubers, Cosplayers, Geeks & Nerds. Board gamers. Dice rollers. Comic book readers. You’re my peeps. (I’ve never actually said that word out loud.) I have a ComicCon badge, piles of swag, and a strong urge to log back into my MMORPG. So, yes.
I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been lured by a funny meme. Then, a closer look has made me dive for the Unfollow button faster than you can say “the Constitution protects my toddler’s God-given right to an AK-47.” More often than not, however, the Mute option works just as well.
Eggs. I won’t follow you if you have an “egg” for an avatar. That is, you haven’t bothered to upload a photo for your picture. The exception: you have interesting posts and a couple thousand followers. I don’t know what’s going on with your decision to remain egg-like, but I’ll wait and see before I give you a pass. So, yep…for now.
Foreign Dignitaries & Non-English Speakers. As a rule of thumb, I won’t follow you if I can’t minimally muddle through your language. (Bom dia , Brasil !) I’m sorry my surname means “tiger” in Turkish, I Ben Türkçe bilmiyorum without Google translator. The exception: you have thousands of followers, which makes me wonder if you’re someone interesting. In this case, I will translate a few posts to try to figure out who you are. And if you’re not a boiling, rage-filled hate caldron, I may follow you out of curiosity. So, yep.
Grandmas & Gamers. Personal pictures of grandkids? Levels in Candy Crush? I’m not sure why you’re following me. But if you seem semi-literate, I’ll follow you. Sure, okay.
Fitness Freaks, Inspirational Meme Addicts & Animal Lovers. Are you a bot or are you recycling other people’s crap out of lack of original thought? You don’t have a single post of your own. I see glistening abs and rippling butts, memes about shakes and protein powder and giving it 110%. Rainbow flowers in baskets and prancing, sparkling unicorns. Hang-in-there kittens and bouncing goats on Vine, but—D’awww, look at the floofy puppy. Oh, what the heck, yep.
So these are my basic Twitter follower navigation rules. What have I forgotten? Let me know.