Followers or Friends?

This is something that’s bothered me, and I’ve wanted to write a post on for a while now. I talk a lot about how amazing the online writing community is, and they really are. Where else can you meet so many awesome, nerdy people from all around the world who love the same things you do?

I’ve never seen another group of strangers be so supportive for each other and be so united, without ever having met. A lot of times, the #amwriting community is what gets me through the day, or what makes me keep going when I don’t want to, or keeps me from giving up hope.

The online writing community and those connections are very important to me. So I find it really frustrating, especially as I’ve become more involved and gained a larger presence online, to find more people solely concerned with what they can get out of you.

I rarely unfollow people, but it’s usually for the same reason I choose not to follow someone in the first place. If their feed is filled with mindless RTs, links, and promotions, I’m not going to follow them. To me, that’s not really contributing anything, but more screaming Look at me! Buy my book! I want to make real connections, not scroll through a bunch of links and tweets that could have been posted by robots.

Recently, I had apparently unfollowed a certain user at some point, and they left me a nasty comment trying to make me feel like a bad person for doing so. It certainly made me feel icky, but not for the reason they intended. I didn’t feel guilty, I just felt attacked. There was nothing personal about it, but they had made it personal. If we never connected, never talked, and there was nothing genuine there, why would I want to follow them?

Similarly, I’ve had several users with massive numbers follow me more than once, meaning they had followed, unfollowed, and followed me again (sometimes three or four times), without recognizing me and probably without ever knowing who I was. Clearly, there was no real connection there, I was just another stat to add to their numbers.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how many of these accounts simply RT and follow those on the #amwriting or other tags, without even seeming to read the tweet or notice the person. I’ve seen these accounts RT inappropriate and completely unrelated things, simply because they were tagged with the #amwriting tag, usually because it was trending. In that case, do those RTs even mean anything?

Obviously, no group is going to be perfect, especially when the internet is involved. But sometimes it just leaves me with an icky feeling, rather than the usual warm and fuzzies I get from the #amwriting community. To these people, you’re more important as a number than as a person.

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of followers, or following everyone back. But I’ve become a lot more conscious on who I choose to connect with, and what their motivations are.

The online writing community can be whatever you choose to make it, and what you want to get out of it. I feel like those who are obsessed with followers and RTs, just for the sake of followers and RTs, are missing out on all the best parts. The #amwriting community isn’t just for gaining influence, building an audience, and selling books. Actually, most evidence has shown that social media isn’t a huge boost to book sales.

The best parts are everything besides the numbers. The awesome people, the friends, the diversity, the connections, the networking, the business opportunities, the support. Really, would you rather have all of that, or a whole lot of numbers that in the end, don’t actually mean anything?

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22 thoughts on “Followers or Friends?

  1. Preach it! I love what you’ve just written and agree with it! But there will always be people who are all about the numbers unfortunately but normally you can see that type a mile off and know where to stay clear.
    Tbh I have no idea how many ‘followers’ I have nor how many have read my latest post, I don’t care about that. All I care about is writing posts that I want to write and those comments from people whose blog I follow and/or recognise their icon because they comment a lot and I can really talk and have a great conversation with those people!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Unfortunately every media has the same problem with idiots who prefer to be nasty, but at least with blogging you can choose not to approve their inane comments, consigning them to the Spam bin for an hour, then delete them – hopefully the Spam Detector will automatically consign them to the spam bin in future 😀

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  3. You make a very good point here. I stopped friending people on Facebook unless I actually knew them for that very reason. I see no reason to make an unfollowing personal though. I mean, what’s the point? That was incredibly mean of that person to do that to you and didn’t serve to do anything except make you never want to have anything to do with them. Waste of time.

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  4. Fabulous post! You put it wonderfully well in words. ^_^ With me these days, I begin to worry I’m going to look like one of those people because I’ve found so MANY awesome people I just don’t have the TIME to read and respond to everything! *flail* But whenever I do get to reading your blog, I always find a tidbit of awesome. ^_^ Keep being fabulous and don’t feel put upon by anyone! *hugs*

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  5. I feel your frustration! One of my pet-peeves is those people who follow (on WordPress or twitter, especially) simply for the re-follow. As a general rule I don’t re-follow — unless something you say, or something I see in your profile interests me (or I’ve actually had some kind of good interaction with you). It’s about community. Sure, I love the idea of building up my numbers so that when I do possibly publish I might have people out there that like my work, but more important is the community. Having other writers to commiserate with, to help out, and who can help me out.
    I’ve never had someone leave me a nasty message for an un-follow (so not cool), I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that!

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  6. I typically only follow people who’ve followed me and only if their content is meaningful, and there’s a chance we’ll connect. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, any of it – I want those connections to mean something.

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  7. I have made some very real friends out of social media and friends I have gone on to meet in real life, mostly through writing festivals, but yes, if you do it the right way, social media can be a wonderful platform to use, but it needs to be the way you want it to be. It’s your little space on the web.

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  8. Who on earth attacks someone for unfollowing them on twitter? Such a response just reinforces the wisdom of unfollowing in the first place, surely.

    And I agree that blogging is more likely to lead to real connections. Some of the people on twitter are alarming.

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  9. Yikes! I can’t believe someone actually messaged you personally and attacked you over unfollowing them. That sounds awful. I only follow about 150 blogs. I used to follow every blogger that followed me but then the blogs I enjoyed most seemed to just get buried underneath those that, as you mentioned, were filled with re-blogs and advertisements. It may not make me popular but it keeps me sane.

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  10. Pingback: Follow for Follow, Vote for Vote | Freefall.wordpress.com

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