A Shift in the Social Tide

There’s been this long understanding of what it takes to make people want to engage, both in-person and online; a simple set of unwritten rules that define our social system.

That’s all about to change.

It’s happening right now. Just as swift as we might have fallen pray to social media and how we conduct ourselves day-to-day interpersonally, it’s changing–for the better.

We used to gauge our “likeability” and social standing based on a few things, but one thing I want to focus on in particular is followers. It is the social currency in how valuable you are, or at least appear to be.

Engagement used to rely on how you physically came across to people. From your appearance, to how well-spoken you were, to what you’re known for accomplishing–many of these things garnered respect from others. It drew positive attention and praise.

While this is still largely true in many groups today, there is also a very-present existence of a new order to our social system, specifically in how and why we engage.

Our physical appearances–both verbally and non-verbally–have given way to the dominant trend of online appearance. This is to say, how “big” you appeared dictated respect and attention. From followers to engagement (e.g. likes, comments, shares), this determined your value.

I disagree with this new-norm, and I’m luckily not alone.

In a shift and buck against the status quo, Twitter has recently implemented a subtle yet highly-effective means to discouraging people from basing value and worth on followers.

A recent update (specifically to mobile) has decreased the font size of the follower / following counters at the top of your profile page. Seems insignificant, right? It’s not.

This small move is a large statement. By making this item that previously signified social value smaller to the eye, Twitter is deterring our attention from how we gauge ourselves and others against one-another.

Your follower count (or worse, your follower / following ratio) is being valued less than the actual content you’re putting out into the universe. That previously flashy number is mattering less.

I speculate that follower counts might disappear altogether, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Twitter has made the first move in how we should re-evaluate our online selves, and it’s a move I’m on board with. I feel that this change can bring about some positive results.

As for the value shifting more to what people are actually saying is a blog for a different time.