Why you shouldn’t follow famous people on social media

By Neil Patrick

I observed an interesting thing this morning on Twitter. I found myself looking at a few verified Twitter accounts. In case you don't know, these are the profiles with a little blue dot on them and a white tick inside it.

Apparently Twitter allocate these at their discretion to the accounts of well known people so that we know that this is their real Twitter account not a faker or imposter trying to hijack their fame.

Actually you don’t have to be especially famous to get this. If you’re a broadcaster, actor, newspaper journalist, sports personality, you’ll probably have one.

But the little white tick is not a quality or merit badge. It just tells us that the person is well known and they are who they say they are.

It doesn’t mean they are worth following on social media.

A famous person yesterday (possibly)

When I looked at a dozen or so of these accounts, I spotted a few things they all had in common:
  • They have many, many more followers than people they follow. This tells me they are not interested in what anyone else has to say. It doesn’t tell us that they are actually saying anything worthwhile. 
  • They rarely share or comment on anyone else’s tweets. In other words, they are not interested in anyone else or engaging with others. 
  • Their tweets are all about the boring details of what they are doing and/or how fabulous their life is. Hello? We don’t care (except for the minority of stalking obsessives that is) 

When I look at the people on social media who I follow and am interested in, almost none of them are verified accounts. They may have less than a hundred followers or several hundred thousand. But these are the truly fabulous people. The people who provide us with things that are interesting, valuable and helpful.

These people understand that we must give to receive. That no-one cares about the details of their day to day lives. That social media, just like real life is a two way street.

These people enrich my life every day. When they engage with me, they make me feel good. They inform and challenge me. They show me that they care about others more than themselves. That’s why I like them and that’s why I follow them.

Whether their Twitter profile has a little white tick or not.

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