I’ve been a Twitter user since April, as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts. Initially, I followed all of the Fakers I could; Twitter tops you out at 2000 unless you have a proportionate number of followers yourself. For four months I monitored the feed of the 2000 most vapid people I could find. Real celebrities, reality celebrities, fake real celebrities, fake reality celebrities, unknown actors and models trying to establish some kind of cult following, perpetual pluggers of people and products to follow that will dramatically impact my life- if only by making me cool by association.
I sat back and watched the base thing that was my feed with the same intensity one would watch Shark Week. We all know how it will end, but there’s something forbidden and primal about seeing the weaker creatures devoured by a stronger, frighteningly sophisticated hunter. Something sacred is about to be destroyed -life- and we can’t look away. The same instinct that brings shameful satisfaction when we see a flounder reduced to chum, I hypothesize, is the instinct that compels us to watch Housewives berate one another and brings joy on the news of the latest pending Hollywood divorce. Is my life truly any better or worse if Tom and Katie divorce? Does watching Botoxed faces try to show emotion really have that much entertainment value? To the latter I answer yes.
After four months of Twitter obscurity, I tired of the redundancy of my followed. Posts were the same repurposed spite and vanity, with some sincere sadness and low self esteem mixed in. You’d have to have low self esteem to dedicate your time to imitating a celebrity with low self esteem.
A simple Google search for “How to get more Twitter followers” garnered 44,600,000 results. Wow, in my amateur eagerness to engage with the Twittersphere I had already broken the number one rule: Never follow more people than are following you. My 151 followers vs. 2000 followed, sent me unknowingly into the depths of loserdom, impossible to escape unless I unloaded some of my “friends.”
But don’t you worry, there’s a service for that. For a mere $12 a month I am able to purge myself of the undesirables, and with fancy algorithmic minds put to their highest use, decide which Tweeters are most likely to raise my social status and which ones are to hit the bricks. I can find out who I am following that is not following me back (everyone) and systematically remove them. This service can also tell me who I am following that has a high ratio of follows to followers (losers) and those that are most popular.
There are dozens of services designed to help you manage your socializing and use your “influence” to manipulate the masses. Some, for a higher fee will post things on your page that are engineered to make you cooler and gain more followers. We are lucky to have some of Silicon Valley’s best minds working on these pressing modern issues. How could I be sure that I was cool unless there was a way to measure it? That brings us to Klout, “The Standard for Influence.” Or in layman’s terms, a circle jerk seismograph.
“People have always had the power to influence others, and that power is being democratized with new social media tools. Klout’s mission is to provide insights into everyone’s influence. We measure your influence based on your ability to drive action in social networks. We process this data on a daily basis to give you an updated Klout Score each morning.”
Power. Did ya hear that? You can get a reading on your Power each morning.
So, the cardinal rule of becoming a Powerful Twitter Icon is that one cannot follow more people than are following them. Here we are at an equation suited for the 112th Congress. The Follower Deficit. How, I ask you, can we always follow less people than follow us and maintain a balanced follower budget? Will the growth of Power keep up with influence inflation? Are we leaving the next generation of socializers worse off than we are? Will there be any Power left for our children and our children’s children? Would stronger regulation of the influence markets preserve the democracy of social power? Is power a God given human right that we all deserve equal access to? Should Congress legislate the redistribution of Power to make socializing fair for everyone? Is the admiration of the uncool a signifier of success? Do we need a constituency of losers in order to be cool?
I leave you with many unanswered questions and a bold alternative to social media metrics: Klouchebag, the Ron Paul of the powermongering age. . .