Do Not Be Afraid to Cull the edu-Twitter Herd

Need to cull the social media herd? These are awfully busy screens.

Almost a month ago, Dan Rezac posted “What Twitter’s Growth Problem Means for Educators” on Medium. One of the points Dan makes in his post is:

Twitter still cares too much about celebrities.

I agree.

There are some edu-Twitter elite who have gamed social media not to engage followers, but instead to pad their number of followers. Does this look familiar?

This is a PLN? This person has over 48K followers but supposedly follows 46K.

This is a PLN?!

The edu-Twitter elite (let us define that as someone with over ten-thousand followers) have created a perception, whether implied in their stats or when they speak at conferences, they actually follow a similar number in return. That is intellectually dishonest, and it has lead to overinflated numbers of people in their Personal Learning Network (PLN) with which they are supposedly engaging. They may “follow” someone, but their ability to create lists of people they follow helps to cut down on the riffraff. I do not think Twitter’s problem in education is growth, but more that those touting the level of engagement and access to the elite as another “box of magic.”

The inflated numbers like those in the image above are supposed to make me believe that in my PLN I can actually engage with this person? Am I to believe this person actually actively follows over forty-six thousand people? Worse, some of the ideas of the edu-Twitter elite are horribly bland, pedagogically dangerous, intellectually dishonest. They have managed to parlay that edu-Twitter celebrity into opportunities to spotlight and keynote at conferences that frankly are not worth the effort attending anymore to hear them speak. Much worse, many of these edu-Twitter elite, the stars who are supposed to be exemplars of teachers and administrators we should wish to be, have left their schools and districts to become full time speakers or consultants (sometimes consulting based solely on their number of Twitter followers).

We need to look closer at the substance the edu-Twitter elite are forking on us, and not be afraid to click “unfollow.”

In recent weeks, I have actively cut the people I follow on Twitter to just above 200 (down from almost 800). I didn’t create a list of people I actually follow in an attempt to artificially inflate the numbers of those who follow me. I actually stopped following those who do not contribute to my PLN nothing more but a bunch of noise. And there were some “big” names I dropped: Kevin Honeycutt, George Couros, Alice Keeler and Erin Klein to name a few. Those culled were no longer contributing to my growth as an educator, were only retweeting the ideas of others, or were espousing dangerous ideas.

The result of my social media cull has been a much more manageable and meaningful experience with Twitter. My Twitter experience is a PLN again.


double desktop” by Fernando Mafra is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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