Last year I wrote about My Grinchy Little Heart – which is still my favorite blog post to date – maybe because it’s the only one that has ever made me cry. It all started last year I was buried up to my eyeballs in social media, but unfortunately, failed to notice that a former colleague had been posting updates regarding her daughter’s battle with cancer. I am afraid to examine why it is that I read approximately 33.7 gazillion tweets from random strangers, but mentally skimmed over my friend’s home-spun wit and wisdom about parenting through cancer.

If I was looking at my evil twin, I might suggest that because my friend lacks influence, because she doesn’t tweet and only Facebooks with her small town friends and family and because her comments do nothing for my Klout score, that I tuned her out. I have never cared about my Klout score, but it is possible that my focus was more on what I could get from social media than what I could give. When I wrote that post, I decided that I would not let social media take from me one of my favorite personality traits: my love of people. I have had deep, meaningful 27 second relationships with strangers in elevators. I have bonded with people on flights and connected with colleagues in line at conferences. The thing I think that makes me so me is how I connect with people. I like people so much it hurts!

So I spent this year making social media more meaningful to me and less about the influence, connection and that dreaded phrase; networking. My blog posts are fewer. My following frenzy is over and my connections are condensed. But I have never been more relaxed, more in touch with my relationships (online and otherwise) or more me. As I look at the last year I know that the difference is that I have insisted on making my connections matter. They are fewer and farther between, but immensely more important. But at the same time, I have noticed something else. The less I care about who is who online, the less some people care about me.

I never want to be one of those people who has rules about who they follow – a certain number of followers, a certain score, or a certain number of pluses next to their profile listing. If I limit my interactions to only those who can improve my status or who can bring me a greater number of retweets then I am still operating with my grinchy little heart. I have some general parameters of who I won’t follow – spammers and naked website types – but other than that, I follow people who I think are interesting or who have honored me by showing an interest in me. I think this holiday season when it comes to examining our lives and what it all means, it’s not how many influencers who follow us but how many true connections we make.

As I move into the New Year and continue to evaluate my life, I know that it doesn’t matter if the fancy PR guy that I love unfollowed me. What matters is that the people who do follow me – no matter their influence – have validated me.

In 2011 social media has not been about who we know, it’s about how we know.

Do we have real followers, friends and connections or just a collection of impressive names on a list? How do we interact with them? Are they a name on a list or a person that you take time to reach out to? My lists might be lean, but they are chock full of real people that mean something to me.

Thank you friends and followers.

~ Jules

3 thoughts on “How we follow, not who we follow

  1. So I see this new post pop into my inbox as I’m doing a twitter clean-up of who I follow. And yes, I even unfollowed some ‘big names’…why? Cuz tweets do not matter to me anymore. If Im not interacting with you….and I really don’t want to follow you.

    Also? I think alot of bloggers are blogging less…or more selectively. As someone who guest blogs…let’s face it…there’s only so much one can read.

    All to say, Mz Jules…once again you’ve hit the nail on the proverbial head!

  2. I want to ‘like’ you on the FB link on the right side of the page, but in the spirit of your blog post on How We Follow, I will not. Perhaps, one day, we’ll meet, but that is not to say that I won’t stop by your blog from time to time, Jules…I just don’t want to be one of those extra pieces of baggage, sitting in the corner of the closet of social media that never gets attention, collecting dust…you know what I mean. Thank you for your thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

    1. David: I do not think that anyone who puts such thought into their comments could collect dust. I think the spirit of the post may have been missed, but I am glad you stopped by and I hope to see you again. ~ All the best, Jules

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