Personal, PeoplePaul McAleer

The Unfollowing

Personal, PeoplePaul McAleer

A couple of years ago I struck up conversations with a person I met via Twitter. We had a number of common interests, and we'd get together and catch up for coffee and chat. It was a nice, cordial friendship and all.

Many months and slowing emails and interests diverging into it, I chose to unfollow them on Twitter. I didn't see it as a big deal, to be honest; they were posting a myriad things that were hurtful towards people I care about and the people I love – lots of anti-LGBTQIA+ stuff, lots of pro-Trump stuff, lots of "marriage is between a man and a woman" type of stuff. I didn't think twice about the unfollow. Why subject myself to that?

A month later, I happened to run into them at a local restaurant. Totally surprised. We struck up mildly pleasant small talk but then, they asked it. "So, you unfollowed me on Twitter. I was wondering why. We had a good friendship, and I took it really personally."

I was caught a little off-guard. Even now, I do appreciate their straightforwardness. I wasn't in a place to truly go deep into the content of this person's tweets, not in a public place. "It's not personal," I said, "I do stop following folks, but it doesn't necessarily mean anything else. But, I absolutely disagree with the things you've been posting."

We talked a little more and came to a place of distant agreement about it, more of a "Hey, it's fine we don't follow each other, but that doesn't necessarily impact our little friendship."

We never spoke again.

I'm also not able to fully avoid this person's work; some people retweet it, and this person collaborates with some people I know. Yet I admit, there's just a little tinge of jealousy I harbor about it.