Followers and the Followed

There was a time if anyone followed you were suspicious, fearful and other things like that. It was tantamount to being stalked and nobody wants that! Even the celebs most famous for stalker incidents will let on that it’s definitely not a pleasant situation. Most likely the intention of the stalker is never altruistic, as almost all Hollywood movies have shown, as have the real life incidents too.

After all who wants to be surveilled and endure a massive invasion of privacy as part of life? Well apart from the reality show stars accustomed to cameras and strangers as part and parcel of their existence. Anyway, I digress, being followed was not a good thing, but could easily be understood if you worked in the CIA, FBI, KGB, Mossad, MI5 or SSS. Perfectly ‘normal’ people were rarely followed as this only happened to celebs and their ilk.

Fast forward a few decades and having followers and the status of being followed has become a very good thing. In fact now the greater the numbers of followers you have the better for you! As one enjoys followers, so does one also ‘follow’ others too. Semantics have become more complicated with social media, technology and the great strides made in those quarters.

As twenty first century dwellers, influence and popularity are evaluated by these statistics. Media and entertainment personalities worth their salt have many devotees and celebs are adored by teeming hordes ready to do just about anything for the object of their veneration. These followers often go to the trouble to bequeath a unique nomenclature on the clan, Beliebers and Cumber-bitches are but a case in point.

The more the merrier is what comes to mind when one thinks of the matrices used (followers, likes, shares, comments etc) in the social media economy. This is a thriving economy and one constantly changing the way things are being done globally. The rules governing it are also in a state of flux. The freedom social media has brought is unbelievable as are the many quirks it’s also revealed about humanity.

Now it’s sick to have thousands of ‘followers’ and ‘friends’ on various social platforms. Most you do not know (should not in some cases), will probably never meet and if you do, you will have a convoluted conversation on how they happen to ‘know’ you. With the amount of personal information some people put on social networks, virtual strangers often know more about them than immediate family not on their timelines.

Popularity is now more important than it has ever been, it’s all in the numbers you see, so if you have them bully for you but if not, you might not count. So it is alright to be followed and follow in the context of the new media age. Overstepping boundaries however are bound to happen, as a follower could become a real life stalker. In my neck of the woods where restraining orders practically don’t exist and the prosecution process grinds slowly it is still important to know exactly what you release on the net.

Personally less is more and the more personal it is the more likelihood it’s not for public consumption. Each new person that follows me or likes something I wrote is met with gratitude as well as a wonder for their choice. I marvel at the conversations social media has facilitated and things it has made possible. However, I will continue to exhibit caution as I navigate my way on the World Wide Web. How comfortable are you with being followed?

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