Is it really even a question? (Insert bad Shakespearean follow-up joke of your choosing here)
I'm going to break from my routine to talk about something that may ruffle a few feathers in Twitter-land. This is Twitter-specific, but the principles that I talk about here apply pretty much everywhere. What I'm talking about is a trend that I've noticed most amongst my fellow actors, and it's one that I find a wee bit troublesome.
It's the "I have tons of followers and I don't follow anyone back" syndrome (Gotta find a shorter name for that).
I'm not talking about celebrities, here. That's a completely different topic, and one that I doubt I'll ever address in my blog. I'm talking about working actors or trying-to-work actors or just-starting-out actors. Us. The family of artists engaged in performance for theatre, film and television.
I get it. We don't want to follow 'bots. We don't want to muddy up our stream. We maybe don't even understand exactly how Twitter really works (and that's okay, by the way... we just want to figure it out at some point, right?).
But here's how it looks, guys. It looks like we just don't care about our followers.
Actors already have a bad rap as being at best self-focused, at worst painfully narcissistic. Do we really want to perpetuate that? Really?
I would guess that very few of us consciously set out to do this. But on some subconscious level, we see the famous actors who have hundreds of thousands (or even a million plus) followers and follow 12, and we want it. We're actors for a reason. We seek the limelight.
Doesn't mean we have to be jerks.
I'll let you in on something. I auto-follow. It's my not-so-dirty little secret. I also have an automated series of direct messages for those that start following me.
I know, there are some pretty strong feelings about that out in the Twitter-verse. Automation=robot. But, as you can pretty clearly see, I'm not (nor have I ever been, as far as I know) mechanical in anything other than my prose. ;)
Now, I'm not telling everyone that they should be doing this, too, but let me explain my reasons. I want anyone that follows me to immediately feel welcomed. I want them to feel included. And I want them to know that I'm here to interact with them. Am I perfect about it? No way! Do I try to be kind? Yes. And I hope that it shows.
I'm here to build a community of like-minded artists. I'm here to create ties and establish mutually beneficial friendships and acquaintances. And maybe to help, if I can. To encourage actors to stay the course. To not give up. To not fall prey to discouragement.
That can't really happen if people don't feel like this is a warm and safe place.
As for the 'bots, we can always unfollow them if they get annoying. It's not hard. When you do, they usually go away. If someone gets really aggressive, block 'em! Feel like your stream's getting too muddied? That's what the lists are for. Put your faves in a list so that you can check in on just them. It's not complicated. Even for the most technophobic amongst us.
You also may notice that if you don't follow me back when I follow you, I'll give you a chance for a while, but will ultimately let you go. We just aren't a fit. We want different things. It's not you, it's me. Okay, really it's you, but I'm not judging. ;)
One final point. Look at other people's profiles. What immediately comes to mind when you see that they have 512 followers and they're following 41? Be honest with yourself. What does it say?
I'm not asking you to buy into my philosophy completely. I do hope that this will make you think about what you're really doing here. Are you here for fun? Then do what you like (even there, my thought is, "The more the merrier," but hey...). Is it for ego? Again, do what you like (although if you follow back, you'll find that you grow much faster). Is it to vent? (Ahem. Misery loves company. Enough said.)
But if you're here to network, to find other actors, to find inspiration...
Then maybe, just maybe, you'll join me on the follow-back bandwagon!