When I recently served on a panel sharing social media insights with a group of emerging leaders in business and nonprofits, a couple of the other panelists, also in the media business, adamantly explained why they follow a very small number of people on Twitter. They spoke with some shock over the large number of people that others purport to follow on Twitter. How do such Twitter users really “follow” that many people, they asked. These two fellow panelists felt a duty to read every tweet.

Time was running short for our panel. Even though I’m one of those Twitter users following some 2,000 people, I let it go without offering a debate, figuring the audience had more important things to learn from us.

I found myself on the topic again, however, last week during a satisfying conversation with a fellow attendee of the Sacramento Ad Club mixer. The beauty of Twitter, she and I agreed, is that you don’t have to read every tweet.

Twitter is described as a fire hose for good reason. It’s OK if many drops of water fall to the ground if much of the rest get to the intended purpose of fighting the fire.

I love and value the Wall Street Journal even though I read only a fraction of the newspaper. Why should Twitter be any different? Can’t this be like — to use a second analogy — merely sampling the food instead of gorging yourself at an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord?

In this era of information overload, the beauty of Twitter, I believe, is checking in a few minutes here and there at any time of the day or night, appreciating the news, insights or inspiration available at that moment, and then moving on.

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