Six months ago I opened my Twitter account. Doubtful at first, I now find it exciting and interesting. I am a fan. I see so many advantages: Reading news from different sources in a single site, getting direct answers from public figures (e.g. politicians, artists), participating in debates about controversial issues, and more. I follow newspapers, reporters, politicians, government institutions, universities, NGOs, and some individuals whose ideas I respect. I use Twitter as a great source of information. However, I’ve encountered a problem…
I used to be a teacher at a university in Mexico. Recently some students have begun following me in Twitter, and I can’t help but wonder… Should I follow back? I am pretty sure that most of them expect me to do so. It is polite, isn’t it? I do follow some of them, the ones who share articles and insightful ideas. But others tweet about trivial things. I am not really interested in the number of cups of coffee they drink (e.g. “Second cup of coffee today… I love coffee.”), or in their perception of the temperature (e.g. “It’s so cold!! I’m freezing”). Should I follow them as well?
For students who are new to Twitter, being followed can potentially encourage them to become more active and more interesting Twitter users. As their former teacher, I am attracted to that idea. As a person with limited time to spend browsing over information in Twitter, I don’t really like the idea of having my Twitter full of trivial tweets.
I am afraid I don’t really know the way out of this dilemma. I have to admit that when students directly ask me to follow them, I explain them why I don’t want to (e.g. “I don’t really care enough about soccer to like the idea of having a whole match narrated, minute after minute”), but I do follow them… I can’t help it. It feels too impolite not to do it. To follow or not to follow: That is a question hard to answer.
– Brenda Padilla