To Follow, or Not to Follow? Should authors consider who they follow on social media?

Have you ever been scrolling on Twitter and noticed that some of the most recognizable names with tons of followers often only follow a handful of accounts themselves? Some businesses and organizations—even churches—are sometimes the same way. Obviously, there are many possible reasons for this. Social media is hard to keep up with and the more people you follow the more posts are filling your feeds. Maybe these folks just want to make sure they see all the posts by those they do follow. But I wonder if some of these personalities or companies are choosing who they follow with a mind that people out there will scrutinize their choices. And I posit this quandary as someone who has been unfollowed once or twice because I write faith-based suspense. I think it’s safe to say that at least some popular social media accounts think carefully before hitting the follow button in case someone or many someones judge them for it.

The question here isn’t are these picky pickers right, because they clearly are. People judge people for a million different reasons—most of them ridiculous—and, sadly, they always will. The question is, as an author, should you care? Should you worry about what people may think about the accounts you follow? Should the fact some people may associate an author with any action or opinion of an account they follow determine your online choices?

The ‘yes’ argument makes a bit of sense, I suppose. After all, it does say in the Old Testament that the righteous choose their friends carefully. Such idioms aren’t just in the bible either. Booker T. Washington is said to have said, “Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”

There you go. Choose your friends wisely. Blog over. Except…

Can you really call someone you follow on Twitter or Instagram a friend?

When the idea for this blog was rolling around in my noggin, I kept going back to a scene from the movie ‘Jack Reacher.’ Tom Cruise was playing the favorite tough guy and, before the protests start, yes, I know a lot of people didn’t like that particular casting decision because Cruise doesn’t resemble a character known for his size and build. But I actually liked him. Was he a physical match? No, but I thought he portrayed Reacher’s attitude perfectly. Anyway…

There’s a scene where Jack, after ditching his wrecked getaway vehicle, hides from the dirty cop chasing him in a group of people waiting at a downtown Pittsburgh bus stop. The stranger standing next to him, taking in the sound of sirens and Jack’s sudden appearance, seems to guess what’s going on. But instead of calling out to the cops, thereby revealing Jack’s presence, the stranger very coolly removed the ball cap on his head and surreptitiously passed it to Jack who put it on to shield his face. I love that moment. A moment where two strangers just get something about each other and share a moment of common human comradery. In that moment, Jack and the Stranger were friends and yet they really weren’t. They could’ve been complete and polar opposites in likes, dislikes, religion, or political opinion, but what did it matter in that moment? And why should it?

If funny cat videos from the same account keep popping up on my for you page, that is probably going to end in a follow from me. Not because I agree with the account holder’s every opinion or outlook on life, but because I like cats! They’re funny.

So frankly, I don’t care about an account holder’s opinions. And why should I? Following someone on social media isn’t a statement that you support their every action or word and it shouldn’t be. We can all find common ground about something while accepting that we never will about everything.

In fact, common ground is my favorite thing about fiction. People from all different walks of life can find a book they like and bond over it. Fiction connects us with moments like that between Jack Reacher and the stranger at the bus stop. I believe that’s a good thing and want it to reflect in my life.

If someone were to browse all the accounts I follow on social media, I like to think they would find a cornucopia of personalities. After all, what faith-based writer can claim to write about Jesus and then refuse to engage with people based on what other people may think or what they believe? Jesus seemed to have only one requirement from people he engaged with. And that was that they wanted to engage with him too. Follow and don’t follow whoever you want, but don’t make your choices based on what other people may think or because you are trying to fit in a brand.

But if I’m going to preach Jesus, what about the other bible verse I referenced? The righteous choose their friends carefully. Doesn’t that scripture contradict with Jesus’ love everyone mentality? I don’t think so. Jesus did choose his friends carefully. He chose everyone who chose him. He didn’t force himself on people or compromise his beliefs. He was open and approachable, not scared to hear people’s stories or opinions.

Maybe people will judge you as an author based on who you follow and maybe they won’t, but don’t let the possibility determine your actions.

What do you think? What guides who you choose to follow on social media? Comment below to join the discussion. And while you’re here, be sure to stop on my CONTACT page and sign up to get the newsletter!

3 thoughts on “To Follow, or Not to Follow? Should authors consider who they follow on social media?

  1. Cindy Davis

    I agree with this. We live in a culture where we are too quick to judge and that’s not what Jesus did. I choose which accounts I follow based on if it interests me or not. We only have so much time (especially for extras like social media) and I don’t want to be bogged down by a bunch of things I don’t care about…

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