The quest for followers

May 22, 2009 — Leave a comment

twitter_bird_5I recently took the plunge and joined the Twitterverse, as it’s affectionately called in the social media world. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Twitter, it’s a micro-blogging site in which individuals can share their thoughts — or links to articles, information, and photos in 140 characters or less.

I must admit that I was a skeptic at first, but I have come to really like Twitter. I have been able to meet some nice people — and am learning a lot of stuff as I take a few dips in the ever-flowing stream of information that comes through those I’ve chosen to follow. Therein lies my frustration with Twitter.

So many of the thousands of people on Twitter seem to be absolutely obsessed with having a large number of ‘followers.’ I understand that those who utilize Twitter for business purposes might want to expand their audience for maximum impact and sales. But I don’t quite understand the unhealthy obsession with having huge masses of followers, because the reality is that, in most cases, the majority of those followers don’t read anything you tweet about anyway.

In the all-consuming quest for more followers, tech gurus have designed a variety of tools to help individuals generate tons of followers. This is what I simply don’t get. As I said earlier, if the goal is business-oriented, then perhaps I can understand. . .but for regular individuals? It seems to me that such massive followings can be a real pain to manage. Plus, the diversity of the followers makes it absolutely impossible to effectively target your message in meaningful ways.

I think Christians have much to learn from this as well. Twitter is really not about followers, although in a day and age where friends are increasingly electronic, it strokes our egos to have lots of them. Twitter is about relationships. The platform provides a means to communicate with people who share something in common with you — faith, politics, hobbies, sports, etc. That certainly doesn’t mean that all the followers are identical to you — but it does mean that there are bridges to build relationships with people, many of whom you don’t know and likely will never meet in person.

As more and more people join Twitter, it becomes harder and harder to maintain focus. More followers demand more time: time reviewing tweets, time managing followers, time replying to messages. In order to be worthy of having lots of followers, a person must be a good leader. They must be able to successfully prioritize, communicate, delegate, and appreciate. These things are exponentially harder to do when your follower base grows from 50 to 500 to 5000 and beyond.

I have given this a lot of thought. And I’m sure some of you would disagree with my perspective, and that’s fine. There are other blogs you can read — something for everyone in the age of the internet.

I definitely believe that if Jesus were on earth today, he would be on Facebook and Twitter. Jesus spent time where the people were. And today people are online.

But in reflecting on the life of Christ, I notice that he was able to speak to the masses, yet he invested only in the lives of a few — people who were truly His followers, His disciples. Among the multitudes to whom he spoke, we can be certain that there were some who truly wanted to be like Jesus. But most of those people were probably just curious. They didn’t have any desire to really spend time with Him. . .and they really didn’t care much what He had to say. It’s almost like our Hollywood culture today. We think it’s cool when we see an actor, actress, or other famous person — but we definitely don’t go out of our way to spend time with them. It’s just neat to be able to say to your buddies, “Hey, I saw Kris Allen today!”

I don’t know about you. . .but I would rather have 10 committed followers than 10,000 onlookers any day.

And, about that understood reciprocity thing — you know, if someone follows you, then you need to follow them. . .Well, I’m glad Jesus wasn’t following Judas.

All that said, if you’d like to follow me on Twitter, find me @GarrickDConner.

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