In Defense of Followership

I'm still a newbie on Twitter. I've been on it a couple of years, but I've still yet to give it enough attention to let it do all that it's capable of in connecting with people, spreading ideas, etc. If it's like my history with other things, I'll finally really get the hang of it in a decade or so. Even though I like technology, I don't do much of anything very fast, including adopting new stuff.

But one thing about Twitter puzzles me: a lot of people follow a lot of people. For example, I currently have 43 people following me, and only 13 of those 43 follow fewer than 100 people. But then it gets more wacky: 10 of the 43 follow more than 1,000 people, and 3 of the 43 follow more than 10,000 people! The stats above are the highest numbers among my "followers": this person is my loyal follower, just as they are of 53,654 other people.

Now, I don't think there's anything wrong with this. People like this are accomplishing a lot more through social media than I've figured out how to do. But I just don't get it... why click "follow" by thousands of people's names?

Maybe I just like the word "follow" too much and get defensive on its behalf. There's no way that we can follow 10,000 people in any sense where the word keeps any real meaning. And it's not fair to Twitter nor to its users to over-spiritualize things, but just an observation:

Paying very close attention to whom it is that we really follow is invaluable in the course of our lives. Sure, I'd like it if there were 50,000 people following my blog (I think), but if there's ever a choice between having a huge number of people follow me or keeping a very small, but very wisely chosen group of people whom I'm following, I think the whole world will be better off if I choose to focus on being a great follower of a few people who have lived really well.

Leadership is over-rated. Followership really matters.