So that one friend of yours, who may be more of an acquaintance than an actual friend, is spouting off some obnoxious stuff on Twitter. Maybe it's a personal rant, or perhaps it's 22 tweets in a row with some hashtag about renaming 80's movies or children's cereals. Either way, you want to shut it off, but you just can't.
Unfollowing someone could hurt, and it could cause unwanted tension if or when you see that person again in real life.
"Hey! How's it going? Long time no see! Oh, how am I doing? Well, if you didn't unfollow me on Twitter you'd know exactly what I was up to, you jerk. I mean, I've been well! Thanks for asking!"
Thankfully, you can now avoid that awkwardness with Twitter's new mute feature. It's really only new to the Twitter iOS and Android apps, and the web page. Third-party Twitter apps, which are becoming more rare, have had mute features for some time now, like Tweetbot.
All you have to do on the Twitter app or web page is go to someone's profile, go into the user's settings and mute them. It's currently being rolled out, so you may not have it yet, but you will soon. And that's when you can start exercising your cowardice.
You see, when you continue following someone and you mute them, you're effectively just taking the chicken way out of unfollowing them. You won't see their tweets, you won't see their activity if they favorite, reply to and retweet your tweets - you just won't see any of it pop up on your timeline. And you'll still be following them in case that user decides to check on your follow status.
That's really what you're afraid of, right? You're worried that maybe she'll visit your profile page, or go to a site like Friend or Follow, and discover that you're no longer following her. Maybe she'll confront you about it, maybe she won't. Maybe she'll just give you the cold shoulder or pretend you don't exist the next time you have a face-to-face conversation with her.
Don't be so sensitive
Tough nuts. Deal with it. Just unfollow him or her and get it over already. Why mute someone? Would you go out on dates with your girlfriend and wear earplugs every time? Hey! I'm here with you, but I sure as hell am not listening to a damn thing you say!
Perhaps you're just sensitive to others' feelings, and you don't want to upset or offend anyone unnecessarily. Well, good for you. Muting a friend or acquaintance online is certainly a convenient way to "edit your Twitter experience," as Twitter puts it. But maybe it's just time for everyone to stop being babies.
For one reason or another, you've decided to follow someone. Maybe his tweets were informative, or entertaining, and maybe he decided to follow you back, too. Great. We're all friends. But somewhere down the line his tweets are less interesting - maybe they've even turned a little weird. You don't want to unfollow him, but you also don't want to see his tweets anymore.
Just. Unfollow. Him.
Do it and move on. And if someone unfollows you, don't get so butt hurt over it. Someone decided they're just over your lunch time tweets, or your random sports tweets that have absolutely no context (No way!/Game over/That was stupid/What was that all about?!).
When you unfollow someone online, or he/she does the same to you, I promise you that no one's life will end. No one is going to have to take a day off of work to recover, and the world will continue to go on without a care for either one of your tweets.
If, in the end, you still can't pull the trigger, I have an alternative solution: take your eyes off the screen, look at the world around you, and make plans to be in the presence of those you do care about - you know, those people whose occasional inane remarks are fine with you as long as there's alcohol on the table.