Managing Online Relationships

What do you do when you've reached Twitter Terminal Velocity?

Aaron Brazell became decided to emphasize the “social” element of social media.

Still, the noise became too much. There was no real way to come back from the brink. I had long ago reached the point where tweets in a tweetstream were at full force. I called it Twitter Terminal Velocity – the point where a tweetstream could not perceptibly travel any faster. And the content was not relevant to my personal or professional life.


About two weeks ago, I made a drastic move that has improved my life in immesaurable ways. I culled the people I was following from 2800 down to 492 (that number has organically grown since). I had a number of criteria for who I kept – people in Austin (gotta keep my new city close, right?), people in tech (not tech news, not social media… tech!), people in the WordPress community, and real friends.

These are the people that matter to me on a daily basis. They make my life worth it on a personal and professional level. I see all their tweets now.

This is not to offend anyone that got cut. If you talk to me (via a mention), I still see those tweets and most of the time I will engage. I also have keyword searches so relevant conversation surrounding topics of interest are also seen, whether they are directed to me or not. However, in my day to day content consumption, I have made my Twitter experience a much more pure experience.

That makes perfect sense to me.

I started a Twitter account in 2008, quickly lost interest, and became active a little more than a year ago.

My general rule is that I’ll follow anyone that I’ve met in real life or am acquainted with via the Internet in some fashion or another, plus people whose tweets I’ve come to like through my network.   That gives them the ability to send me a direct message.

I’ve got 1995 followers and am following 663.   But even that’s too many.   So, to make my Twitter stream more useful, I actually only actively read messages from people on lists that I’ve created in Twitter or on TweetDeck, my primary desktop interface.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. J.W. Hamner says:

    Wow, I only follow 25 people (only one of them a personal friend) and it seems almost like a job to keep up with them… I can’t even imagine 500… I guess unless 475 of them never said anything.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    1600 on Twitter, 1300 on Facebook. So mostly I ignore people. Then I upload a picture of a beer I’m drinking. Then I answer a couple of fan questions. Then I upload a teaser about an upcoming book. Rinse and repeat.

    Is it worth anything? Damned if I know.

  3. People do like to talk about beer.

  4. Brett says:

    How the heck do you follow 663 people of twitter? That’s a bloody ocean of tweets.

    I’m only following 12 people.

  5. Michael says:

    I have Gwibber ( that aggregates my Twitter,, Facebook and Flickr feeds. I don’t follow that many people, combined, but I still mostly ignore it. Two or three times a day I’ll read what’s been said, but that’s it.