I just read a very interesting article called “The Limits of Friendship” from The New Yorker.
Here’s a quote from the article that hit me profoundly: “With social media, we can easily keep up with the lives and interests of far more than a hundred and fifty people. But without investing the face-to-face time, we lack deeper connections to them, and the time we invest in superficial relationships comes at the expense of more profound ones.”
I’ve found this time and again on different media platforms. When I start out on the platform I have maybe a couple hundred “friends”, many of whom I know in real life, as well as in virtual life. I have fun chatting, keeping up with their lives and and respond to each of their posts or tweets in an almost real time basis. As soon as my goal becomes one of numbers…trying to break 1000 friends, 2000, 5000…I lose the ability, and the interest, in keeping up with anyone who hasn’t turned into a truly intimate friend. Now it becomes ‘like for like’, ‘follow for follow’, etc.
My Twitter feed has turned into about 20 people I care about and 2500 people/accounts that are trying to sell me something. Most of that is my own fault because I made a conscious decision to try to significantly grow my contacts to market my own written works (yeah, I know…me trying to sell them something, lol). Now a previously fun platform is simply a place where the accounts I follow throw shit against the wall constantly, hoping some of it will stick and I, basically, don’t do much of anything.
What’s the bottom line for me? Nothing earth shattering. Just added reinforcement that, generally, people / accounts with 500 – 150,000 followers (which includes me in Twitter, anyway) aren’t in it for friendship, they’re in it for networking, sales, recognition, marketing, etc.