My Twitter account tells me I joined February 2010, a piece of data that I wouldn’t have known unless it was provided it to me because I haven’t been active on Twitter until recently. I have 43 followers.
What interests me about Twitter are all the ways users have devised to get more followers. There is #FF (Follow Friday) where you can list other accounts as suggestions for people to follow. There are accounts that focus on blogs and offer a place so you can list a recent post, follow the other blogs you see in the comments and retweet it.
I’ve found some great accounts and blogs to follow that way so I’m in no way knocking the process, but it makes me think about followers versus community.
This topic brings to mind an example I heard from Nicholas Christakis, a sociologist from Yale, that he explained in an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett. He described a scenario in which you put a person in a room of 1,000 people, the idea of cooperating with 1,000 individuals is overwhelming. So we’ve adapted two different methods.
First, if you break up the room into 10 groups of 100 people with each group wearing a different armband, then a new individual can identify and attach with a smaller group because it feels do-able.
The second way that we’ve adapted is to make friends. Which we do in part because we have something in common with them.
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn and more all give us the stats on our followers. I’m a number person so I love that. But for me that doesn’t capture the feeling of community that happens when we engage with each other on a topic, a post, a picture or an idea.
The difference between followers and community/friends makes me think about speaking at my father’s funerals. When I faced those churches full of people, it was a wonderfully powerful and meaningful experience to be able to talk about my beloved father. But what I remember most is afterwards, when I listened to the many friends who came up to me talk about his gentle touch in life, was when I was able to feel the comfort of being held.
So I’ve found for me, the vitality is in the replies and comments and the people I get to know through them, regardless of the number of followers I have on any platform. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.“
I applaud all our ingenuity to use these platforms to find people to follow and be followers. It makes the social media feed more interesting. At the end of the day though, it’s doing the work to interact with people that keeps me fed.
So thank you for reading my posts and please know how much I appreciate when you take the time to comment. It means a great deal to connect with you. Wishing you all the best in 2023!
For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com
And if you want to follow me, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)