Who are you following?

Last Sunday in the church service I attended the preacher asked us the question “Who do you follow?”

I guess many of us might think that we do not follow anyone. However most of us probably follow either: a sports team, musician, film star or TV series.

If we check our various social media accounts we would realise that there are many different people we follow on these platforms too.  When I look at those I follow on social media and put these people into categories broadly speaking they would be, in no particular order:

  • Sportsmen
  • Politicians
  • Comedians
  • TV presenters
  • Christians
  • Friends and family
  • Technology

If though you were to ask me why I follow these people then for many of them I’m not quite sure what reason I would give you. Although I might like a particular sportsman I’m not quite sure why I need to follow them on social media. There might be occasions when I congratulate them, via social media, for winning an event or achieving something outstanding in their sport. But it’s not necessary though to follow them to do this.

Some of the people I follow on social media do post interesting updates. I especially enjoy updates from certain comedians I follow who use their accounts to share jokes with their followers.

Social media has helped me to keep abreast of what my old friends are doing as I’m not very good at keeping in contact. Updates from Christians can encourage and challenge me in my faith in addition to providing me details of their latest blog postings.

I wonder though if those we follow on social media influence us for better or worse, or is it just harmless fun following these people.

Last weekend there was a boxing match shown on You Tube between Logan Paul and KSI. These two individuals are hugely popular on You Tube and between them have over 34 million subscribers to their channels. That is a phenomenal number of subscribers / followers. According to the BBC the majority of their subscribers are young men. Just think of the influence Logan Paul and KSI can have for better or worse in the lives of these young men.

Maybe one of the reasons we follow certain people on social media is because we want to feel part of the crowd. If all our friends follow someone we may feel isolated if we also do not follow them. Perhaps we get a sense of self-worth by following these people and hoping that they might follow us back in return.

I remember feeling pleased that a couple of people I follow, who were popular on Twitter, started following me on that platform.  I think secretly I was hoping that they might retweet my tweets and I would get many more followers out of this! It can be quite interesting, eye opening and embarrassing when we honestly examine our motives.

In closing I think it’s wise to be mindful of who we follow and to ensure that we are careful not to allow ourselves to be influenced in a negative way.

 

 

 

Checking for Facebook Likes

When I post something on any social media site I have a tendency to frequently check whether my post has received any “likes”. I must admit I can get quite disappointed if there are no responses to my post! Whilst that might seem strange to some people, I’m sure there are many others who know exactly what I mean.

Last week I read an interesting article on the BBC website entitled “Social media apps are deliberately addictive to users”. The article contained the following quote:

Leah Pearlman, co-inventor of Facebook’s Like button, said she had become hooked on Facebook because she had begun basing her sense of self-worth on the number of “likes” she had.

“When I need validation – I go to check Facebook,” she said.

“I’m feeling lonely, ‘Let me check my phone.’ I’m feeling insecure, ‘Let me check my phone.’”

Ms Pearlman said she had tried to stop using Facebook after leaving the company.

“I noticed that I would post something that I used to post and the ‘like’ count would be way lower than it used to be.

“Suddenly, I thought I’m actually also kind of addicted to the feedback.”

I think it’s safe to say that Leah Pearlman is not the only person who has sought validation through Facebook. I would not be surprised if sadly many of us know exactly what she is talking about if we are being honest with ourselves.

For those of us who understand and identify with Leah Pearlman’s comments we might ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Why do we look to social media for validation?
  • Why do we base our self-worth on the number of “likes” our post has received?
  • Why do we check our phones when we feel lonely?

I don’t believe that there is anything wrong as such with social media. It can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with friends and families. However we do need to exercise self-control in our use of social media. It really does not matter in the scheme of things if no-one “likes” your post. Don’t rely on “likes” to make you happy!