At the rate I’m going, the number of people I follow on Twitter will have dropped from 640 to zero on July 13, after the last World Cup match concludes.
I’ve never been sentimental about Twitter, randomly unfollowing gassy and predictable feeds when flooded by their abundant and stupefying tweets, or pruning my list to make room for new voices. I can only assume that other Twitter devotees similarly budget their accounts, otherwise how could one keep up with the traffic?
Last month, soccer enthusiasts simplified the editing of my follow list by tweeting expansively about the World Cup. They published pre-game tweets. They live-tweeted matches. They offered post-game tweets. They tweeted about soccer fashion, about the officials’ bad calls, about the stadiums, other fans, the weather, other tweets, and more. If you’re a heavy Twitter user, you know what I’m talking about.
As a soccer agnostic, with no hatred for or interest in the game, these many tweets hold a negative value for me. So, on June 12, when Brazil took on Croatia in the first match, and fans filled Twitter with the written equivalent of a vuvuzela orchestra, I tweeted my minor rebellion: “If I unfollowed you, it’s because you tweeted about the World Cup. Nothing personal.”
Since that tweet, I’ve thinned my follow list by 140 accounts, down to 500. I’ve even unfollowed Twitter buddies for the misdemeanor of retweeting a benign World Cup tweet. As I write this during the United States vs. Germany match, I’m still unfollowing — so long, Carl Bialik, so long, Lizzie O’Leary, so long Tim Carney, so long, Damon Darlin, so long, Clara Jeffery, so long, Hilary Sargent, and so long, Dave Weigel!