It seems that social media is making many of us obsessed with numbers. Friends, fans, likes, follows, favourites and the like all help to create a social media obsession with numbers. The most friends on Facebook, reaching the popular page on Instagram, the greatest group of followers on Twitter… but does it really matter?
Obviously connections do matter but generally it is the meaningfulness of those connections and not just shallow numbers that should be important to us. For example, I would rather just have close friends on Facebook than a bunch of random strangers I hardly know. Likewise I would rather have a handful of connections on LinkedIn if they all worked in my field vs. a huge number of barely related connections.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing, as I assume large numbers of connections, no matter how shallow, may be regarded as beneficial by younger users if the number itself acts as a status symbol.
Also, dependent upon the reason for wanting huge numbers of followers, shallow connections may work in some scenarios – e.g., connections do not have to be particularly meaningful or deep in order to gain likes on a photo on Instagram.
But online users do not just chase numbers when it comes to their amount of friends or connections, they also chase numbers when it comes to the sharing of their content e.g., the number of shares on Facebook or retweets on Twitter. There is a desire for many users to have content that goes viral on the internet. Be honest, we are all quite pleased when our content proves popular with other users! I suspect this ties into our need for social approval, acceptance, popularity, respect and recognition. If our content goes viral there is that sense that we created or said something that had impact – and that’s a nice feeling! (Providing it went viral for the right reasons!).
Of course, if the pressure gets too much for you, you could always buy some Facebook friends, Twitter followers or Pinterest pins! Businesses such as Get FB fans and likes, Fans Followers Boost, and Buy Real Facebook Fans will provide you with fake followers and fans for a price! This approach is more likely to be used by businesses that wish to look popular or boost their positive ratings/reviews, rather than individual users (which would be even more disturbing!); and was recently featured on Channel 4’s dispatches programme.
Needless to say, hopefully none of us will feel the need to resort to such measures!