It’s true. Everything they told you about following is wrong.
When I first decided to embark on this “serious” blogging adventure, I did a TON of research. I researched various blogging platforms, hosting services, themes, color schemes, marketing strategies, networking sites…you name it. In the end, I picked WordPress over Squarespace, JustHost over Go Daddy, and the Genesis Theme over everything free. I made an investment and I must say that I have been satisfied. All the time spent researching has proven to be very valuable and fulfilling.
There is one thing, however, that I have been disappointed in. All of my research on the subject of social media indicated that I should select just one platform to focus on at a time. I decided to submerge myself in Twitter. I developed what I considered to be a pretty decent following. Everything that I read told you to follow anyone who follows you. So I did.
Sort of. I added a few of my own conditions. I don’t follow anyone who still has an egg head profile picture and I don’t follow anyone who has a bio that mentions purchasing 1,000 followers for $30. That’s just sketchy.
Then I started seeing a lot of unwanted content on my timeline. Some of which were inappropriate, some of which were just annoying. So if someone follows me, I tap on their profile and scroll through their recent history to see what kind of content they promote. If it’s inappropriate, I don’t follow them. If it’s appropriate but I have no interest in their content, I follow and mute them. If it’s appropriate and interesting, I follow them.
I thought I had this Twitter thing down to a science. I was following the best Twitter advice I could find while maintaining decency and relevance. Perfection. Until I encountered something I never ever heard about.
One day, I tapped to follow a new follower and received this message:
Blocked: You are unable to follow more people at this time.
Apparently, each Twitter user is only technically allowed to follow 2,000 accounts. In all of my research, I never came across this information. Everything I read said something along the lines of “to gain followers, you must first follow.” This technicality stands in opposition to everything I read.
Twitter is very elusive in describing this 2,000 follow limit. Some say that there is a super secret ratio algorithm. The number of people who follow you has to be at least 80% of the number of people that you follow. That’s bologna. I follow 2,577 profiles. If this ratio was true, I would need to have a minimum of 2,062 followers in order to keep following additional people. I have 2,341 followers. There is no reason that I shouldn’t be able to follow more people. It’s ridiculous.
There’s a moral to this story and it honestly has nothing to do with Twitter or ratios or 2,000 limits.
It has to do with the evolution of what a “follow” means to me.
At first it was just a way of building credibility. In order to land a freelance gig, businesses look at sample work and various statistics. Social Media “Presence” can play a major role. From this point of view, a follow is honestly quite worthless.
Following later became a way to meet new people and network. Which means I’m more selective in who I follow. Today, I view a follow as an endorsement. If I follow you, it means that I believe what you have to say has value. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with you. I simply believe that you have something to contribute.
In addition to Twitter, I’m also on Instagram. My Instagram community is a lot smaller than it is on Twitter. Quality over quantity. I unfollow people if I don’t like their pictures. Call me a snob.
I recently unfollowed someone because of a single picture. The individual is an “It Works” consultant and posted a before and after picture of a young woman (It Works sells wraps that claim to shrink away fat, stimulate hair growth, and build strong, healthy nails…among other things). On the right hand side was the “before” image with the “after” image on the left. In the before picture, the woman was standing in the ocean, kissing her husband, with a small child pulling at her leg. In the after picture, she was standing profile in front of a mirror taking a selfie. There were numbers; she had obviously lost a significant amount of weight between the before and after shots.
But the part that truly angered me was the text. Under the before image, the text said “miserable.” Under the after image, the text said “happy, happy, happy.”
So when she was on vacation with her family, wading in the ocean, and kissing her husband…she was miserable. When she was examining her reflection in the mirror…she was happy.
All because of subtraction.
We measure our satisfaction and joy using numbers on a scale rather than the quality of our relationships. We’re happier in our cubicles than we are on vacation because “at least we’re more photogenic.”
I’m guilty. I do it all the time. I look back at pictures and think, “If I was unhappy with my weight, I must have been unhappy with my life.” And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes weight and happiness collide, in the same way that sometimes the radio starts playing the song that’s been on repeat in my head all day. It happens. But I can look back at other pictures, too. “I look good in that picture, but gosh was I miserable.”
Emotions and life satisfaction don’t have to be linked to weight. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Since when was that a thing? It’s something that’s been bothering me a lot these days. I gained a decent amount of weight while in treatment the last 6 months. I won’t be descriptive, but it was weight that needed to be gained. That doesn’t mean that I’m happy with it. At all. I’ve been “rehabilitated” and now I’m on to “maintenance.” They say this is the hardest part. Sitting with it. Not acting on symptoms. I’d agree. It sucks. It’s worth it, but it still sucks.
The other day I was flipping through the Bible that I used while at Mercy in 2012. Tucked within the cover was a picture from a conference (the best women’s conference EVER). It was of me and several other Mercy girls. I looked happy. I remember being happy. Genuinely happy. And then I started thinking. “Brittany, you know…in that picture…you actually weighed a little bit more than what you do now.”
My hope is that one day, those kind of thoughts won’t even cross my mind. It makes me sad that weight enters into my train of thought when recalling happy memories. But for now, that’s my reality. And this once, it might be a good thing.
I keep looking at that picture. My smile is real, my skin is glowing, and I’m with incredible friends having an amazing time in room radiating God’s presence. I was happy. It is possible. And it has nothing to do with a silly number on a stupid scale.
I’ve never been one for vision boards, but I’ve been thinking about making one. It would probably be a circle, because I find meaning in circles and this photograph would be at its center. A daily reminder of the fact that everything I want CAN equal everything I have. Right here. Right now.