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.

More Noise to Signal. You can follow Rob on Twitter; and follow ReadWriteWeb too @rww.

rob cottingham

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