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How to be Cooler than a Siberian Sunbather when it comes to Twitter Lists (or Anything Else!).



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Picture credit:  Lauri Vain "Ice Hole Swimming"

Do you want to be a low value Twitter user?

Then keep chasing your tail trying to keep up with other not-so-smart people:  constantly focusing on increasing follower counts and how many lists you're on.  Go away and settle for mediocrity if you want.

If you're still here, and I suspect my lovely Twitter friends are, then I'd like to share some ideas that are helping me stay cool, no matter how many lists I DO NOT get on, or however many people DON'T want to follow me!

Because you know what?

None of that stuff really matters!

That's right.  How many followers we have?  Not important.  How many lists are we are on? Irrelevant!

Why?  Because those kinds of measurements, taken on their own, are not the point.

The point is, in my opinion:  it's who we are and what we are doing that matters.

That raises massive questions, and I hope we are working on what they mean for us and how we are responding to them.  But they're the stuff of other posts, blogs, books, global think tanks, PhDs, and they generate millions of hours of discussion and debate. 

Hey, I love all that stuff but really, in this post, I just want to talk about Twitter lists!  

Picture credit:  Kellan

So here's a list of thoughts toward reallygood thinking, that'll help us avoid the "ingredients of FAIL" and get those lists in perspective:

1)  Twitter lists are random. 

They are arbitrary.  They're built by people and can be about anything people want to put in them!  People have flaws, misunderstandings, and egos.  They have their own agenda.

2)  If you are on one list and feel great about it, you'll soon find you've not been included in another and might not feel so good!

How crazy to invest that kind of power in something external, something over which you have absolutely zero control. 

3)  Lists may be useful, but I suspect some will simply use them as yet another status, or lack of status, metric.

This attitude is a sure fire way to reinforce what contemporary philosopher Alain de Botton calls "status anxiety":  just another thing to use to compare ourselves with others and check where we feel we come in our perceived rankings.

4)  To be included, or not to be included, is important, or not important, depending on who is doing the including, or the not including, whichever you choose!

We often have expectations about how we want others to perceive us.  We sometimes think folk should understand things about us, they should recognise our achievements, immediately see what makes us so worthy, and they should include us because compared to others on their lists, we are just as good, if not better! 

Again, this kind of thinking gets us nowhere.

5)  So much stuff that affects our lives is random, accidental, flawed. 

Get over it! 

Let's be grateful (at least most of us reading this) we were not born on a rubbish dump in some sh** hole with no one to feed us, care for us, or help us grow up and have a decent life.

Being as cool as a Siberian sunbather is partly about getting things into proper perspective.

Picture credit:  Lauri Vain

Here's a list of thoughts toward reallygood thinking, that'll help us move beyond caring about what lists we are on, or not on:

1)  It's not about you (or me).  It's about "we".  So think-with!

Generally, if we focus, not on Twitter lists, but on serving others, helping, creating value, then we are going to win.  As self-help chap Zig Ziglar says “You can get everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people to get what they want”.  And recently, I heard Professor Srikumar S. Rao say "in a me centred universe you'll have more than your fair share of anxiety".  You'll find more of what he said here.

So, let's try to be a bit less selfish.  This might help

2)  If we build lives based on our inner values, a sense of meaning and purpose, we won't be pushed around so much.

If our goal is just to get external recognition or approval (eg. being in the "right" Twitter lists), we are on shaky ground.  We may get it, but it won't last, it seldom does.  It blows hot and cold.

So, to be truly successful, our sense of meaning and purpose must be far bigger than our capacity, or need, for external approval, and we must try to keep it that way.

3)  Lists (approval) might make us subjectively happy for a moment, but there's a much greater experience, and it comes through finding, and serving, something much bigger than ourselves.

It's not so much "what" that thing is, we just need to have it.  It may be something good, or bad, the effect is the same, it gives us meaning.  Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a founder of the "positive psychology" movement describes the ultimate state of human happiness as "knowing your highest strengths and deploying them in the service of something larger than you are".   

4) Surprising things, people, resources can appear and help us get where we want to go, even if the people we think we need most don't know us or care about us!

It feels good when a respected leader puts us in their "top 100 potato growers in the world". 


Don't you know, with all this digital connectedness, we can take or leave their list, or anyone else's, and instead, focus on helping people around us.  Sooner, if not later, someone will see that and do something good for us. 

5)  Let's build our own lists.

Let's build great lists of positive stuff that'll keep us on track even when the external signs suggests we're having a tough time.

A few ideas our own lists could include:

*  Outline a picture of the direction you want your life to take.  Note what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose.

*  Great qualities you naturally have that'll help you on your way.  You are kind, caring, a good people person, etc.

*  Someone, somewhere, cares about you, no matter what.  Make a list of those who care. 

*  List people you really care about.

*  You've beaten the crap out of problems in the past, you can do it again.  Make a list of your wins and how it felt.

*  Think of things that have worked well for you, given you strength, made you grow.  Write them down.

*  Write down the names of those who make the biggest contribution to your life right now.  Say thanks in some way and let them know you appreciate them.

*  Ignore the small, irritating stuff, and focus on creating lists around the big stuff that matters (or the small stuff that matters).

Those were just a few examples of where we might start.  But I promise you, if we put this Twitter list thing into proper perspective, we really will stay cooler than a Siberian sunbather, and we might even be happier too.

I love it that you bothered to read this post.  I hope you enjoyed it and found it helpful, thanks!  I always like to know what you think.  What's your attitude to these lists?  Are they another status, or lack of status, symbol?  What have you discovered about having a big vision or sense of meaning and purpose>  Any tips?  See you in the comments here at the bottom.  Much love, Ian.



  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running