Written by Kathleen Ndongmo for Ynaija Frontpage

Imagine a conversation between Chika and Ronke:

“Hi Ronke, I really like your dress”

“Thank you, Chika.  What a lovely thing to say”

“Ok, now you tell me how much you like the dress I’m wearing.”

I accepted long time ago that Twitter is for narcissists.  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an actual thing, and I suspect that, to a certain extent, each of us Twitter fans suffers from it.  Otherwise, how else would you explain the certain conviction that our deconstruction of current affairs, our instagram photo of the evening’s 9th cocktail, our links to our blogs with our thoughts… How else would you explain the fact that we are sure that there are hundreds of people dying to join the Cult of Me?  Hello Followers.  Peace be with you.

But, narcissism is hardly a sin.  Do you know what is a sin?  The seldom mentioned 8th deadly sin?  It’s the follow back prompt.

It is needy.

It is unnecessary.

And it is beyond annoying.

In the same way Ronke is not entitled to a reciprocal compliment from Chika – get over yourself, Ronke – so Twitter users shouldn’t expect to be automatically “followed back”.  I am not Justin Bieber.  And you are not a prepubescent girl.  So Stop it.  And go away.

Why should I follow you back?

What value does one more Follower add to your life?

What value do you promise to add to mine?

If I do not follow you back, how will this negatively impact your existence?

Before you respond: NONE of these questions should even have answers!  If you don’t see that, step away from the computer, rush over to your parents’ and DEMAND an explanation for why they didn’t instil you with a better sense of perspective.

I follow fewer people than follow me.  Not by design – it just happened that way.  At first, when I really got into the swing of Twitter, I did follow everyone back.  In the old days, it was only a couple of dozen people, the majority of whom I interacted with.  And it was fun.

Then Gaga joined. Or maybe it was Oprah?  And suddenly everyone was on Twitter and I realized that the vast majority of the people I automatically followed back either tweeted about subjects of no interest to me, or they barely tweeted at all.  So I became a little pickier.

It is not rude to forego the counter-follow.  If you are desperate to up your follower count, try this: be interesting. At least.

Don’t want to be interesting?  Or you can’t?  Ok, then.  Be whiny and desperate instead.  That might work too.

The recent plight of Jonah Lehrer is interesting.  On July 27, Mashable, the internet news blog, ran a piece titled ‘25 Twitter Accounts That Will Make You Smarter.’

Lehrer made it into this list at number 5, gaining numerous new followers in the process.  Three days later, he was exposed for having fabricated quotes in his bestselling book.  Cue a very embarrassing fall from grace which, I suspect, would have been a lot less public had he had far fewer followers on Twitter and not already been in the foreground of the social media conversation.

Let me tell you a little secret: high Follower counts are not real social media currency.  They do not signify influence or engagement (RTs do that).  You could have just 10 followers, but if every one of those retweeted your comments to their own networks, you’d reach way more people than someone with 1,000 followers whose tweets are almost completely ignored.

So if you are a follow back prompter.  Be engaging.  Or, better yet: relax.  In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter.  I promise.




  1. I disagree with you. I work in PR. If you do something interesting in life, follower counts are a media strategy that the big shots look out for, and we mean real followers not random faceless Russian names;. so let the #followback prompters be, there might just be something they are trying to get at while they keep being interesting (that part I agree with).

    Posted by PrLAdyBoutique | August 11, 2012, 1:47 pm

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