If there’s one proven winner in the online world, it’s finding a way to digitally enable pathological, obsessive behavior.
Witness Qwitter, which I installed and removed within less than 24 hours. Not because the site’s poorly designed – it’s lovely. And not because the service doesn’t work as advertised – but because the service works exactly as advertised: when someone stops following you on Twitter, Qwitter lets you know.
When people I’d never heard of stopped following @robcottingham, it was relatively easy to take – a few nights of binge drinking, and it was water under the bridge. But the first time I lost a friend (and I mean that in the Web 2.0 sense of “friend”, which is, “someone I’ve never met but with whom I’ve traded comments briefly somewhere”), I was seized with obsession. Turns out it’s a very short leap from What was it about that last tweet that pushed them away? to I’m doomed to die alone and unloved.
So I dropped Qwitter (no, the irony of that sentence isn’t lost on me). I’m sure it’s a valuable service for those mature and grounded enough to handle it – say, the Dalai Lama on a good day. But until I understand whatever force it is that compels me to dwell on the number of my Twitter followers (and Facebook friends, and FeedBurner subscribers, and…) I’ll be staying away.