There was a time in my life, just a few years ago really, that if you had asked me something like, "How many friends do you have?" I would have looked at you like you had two heads? It is a ridiculous question. I have lots of friends. I have a small group of friends that I've known since junior high. I have friends from my first college. I have friends from my second college. I have friends from many of the clients I have worked for. (I've spent many years of my career as a consultant.) I now have mommy friends. But how many? That's ridiculous.
Except now in the age of social media, we have all kinds of ways of tracking the quantity of our relationships. Let's see:
Facebook personal page: I have 114 friends. This does not phase me at all. I ignore many friend requests. I post lots of personal stuff on my page, so unless I'm ok with you knowing details about my kids, you don't get friended.
Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rubyspikes/165410406852718?sk=wall): I have 17 fans. (No, that is not a typo.) Unlike my personal page, this one seems a little more insulting. A) Because 16 is just pathetic. And B) because it means that people don't want to see my blog posts in the FB feed. "Really? But I thought you liked my blog?" In actuality, I don't really care. So far, I have only been using it as a FB notification method for new blog posts. So if you subscribe to my blog in some other way (RSS, email, etc.) you don't really need another way, and I get that. But I need 25 to get myself a FB URL. Can you say www.facebook.com/rubyspikes ? (Yes, I know it doesn't work. I just told you that I need 25 fans before they'll let me have it!)
Twitter (http://twitter.com/): I have 206 followers.I really don't know how this happened. But even if half of those aren't 'bots, I impress myself. Because that number seems HUGE to me. Especially since here is a sampling of my recent tweets:
Riveting stuff, huh? You should totally go follow me on Twitter.
Blog 1: Sarcasm 101 (you are here): 30 followers, 7 email subscribers, 770 page views last month. (These numbers are sad, I know. I started my blog in March though, so cut me some slack.)
Blog 2: Little Ants (http://little-ants.blogspot.com/) (the rainbows & unicorns side of me... stop laughing. It's a small side.): 15 followers, 2 email subscribers, 279 page views last month. (These numbers are even sadder. But who wants to read adorable stories about my kids? Basically, their grandparents. And really, that's who this blog is for.)
OK. That's all the easy stuff. But then there is also the SLEW of websites that will offer additional information about how loved (or not) you are. Here are some:
Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/): Tells you where your website ranks among all sites on the web. Sarcasm 101 Alexa rank = 6,071,394 among all websites. (Personally, the fact that is has a rank at all I find pretty amazing.) Little Ants = no ranking.
Follow Friday (http://www.followfriday.com/): Tells you how many people have recommended you to other tweeters using the #FF hastag. I have been recommended 7 times. (Really? Did I thank all of you? Thanks!) I rank 113, 234 globally.
Klout (www.klout.com): Tells you how much people respond to your tweets. And what topics generate the most response. My Klout ranking is 54. I am influential (most recently) on blogging, politics, debt, facebook, & tweetdeck.
Note here that I just started using TweetDeck, so the reason my tweets generate a lot of responses is because they look something like this:
More amazingness. Don't you want to go follow me on Twitter? (Yeah, I didn't think so. What are those 206 people thinking?)
Who Unfollowed Me (http://who.unfollowed.me/): A website that, once you register your Twitter account, will keep track of which of your followers dumps you. Apparently I have lost 4 followers in the last few days.
So What Does All of This Mean?
So if you've stuck with me this long, I have an important announcement for you: It doesn't mean anything. Go ahead, look at the numbers. It's fun. But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not put to much stock into them. They mean so very little.
In the real world, do you care if every person that you work with is your buddy? No. Do you care that you're not still friends with every person you went to high school? No. Are you glad for the handful of really great friendships that you have with the people you really love to spend time with? YES!
I know that we all want to think that what we're putting out there is great stuff, but just remember that not everyone is gonna' love what you're putting out there... AND THAT'S OK! So don't fret if your blog numbers are low, or if you're facebook fan page doesn't have enough fans to even allow you to get a URL (Hello! Here's the link again in case you missed it.), or if you lose a few Twitter followers.
I have unfollowed exactly two people on Twitter because I know how much some people fret about losing followers. But here's the thing about me: I am both a prude and an atheist. The two people I unfollwed: one regularly retweeted Bible verses and the other was regularly talking about getting high. (Not a fan of the illegal drug use. Have at it people, I just don't want to be involved. Especially not when it's 75% of your tweets.) And I think that both of these people should continue to be exactly who they are and be perfectly self-assured enough to be fine with the fact that someone like me may not be interested in following them on Twitter. So I may end up unfollowing some more people in the future. If I do, please don't take it personally. And if you ever want to unfriend me or unfollow me or hide my facebook posts from your feed or not include me in a Twitter list or unsubscribe to my blog, go for it. I promise I won't take it personally either.