So as I’m trying to keep my blog as honest as possible, with a mix of posts, here is something that came to me this week, as I was watching a Youtube video, and ended up just typing a lot about. Apologies if it doesn’t all make sense, my mind is very much a connoisseur of word vomit.
a person or thing that follows.
a person who follows another in regard to his or her ideas or belief; disciple or adherent.
a person who imitates, copies, or takes as a model or ideal:
He was little more than a follower of current modes.
an attendant, servant, or retainer.
a person who follows or subscribes to another’s posts on a social-media website:
He spent hours figuring out how to get more followers on Twitter.
Something that I really wanted to talk about in this discussion is the word, and idea of ‘followers’ and ‘following,’ that has become so important in today’s culture. I am guilty of it myself, I want more blog followers, more Instagram followers, more Twitter followers, I want more people to read and see what I’m saying, and like that (literally) instead of someone or something else. Everything you see nowadays has a tag on it -“Follow me,” “Like me,” “Share me,” a constant need to be acknowledged.
There have always been followings, people followed Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Obama, even (ugh) Trump. People can follow teachings, follow a religion, and now, follow a football game, follow TV series, follow gossip online. There is so much to follow today online, and the people being followed don’t always have a lot to say. They are the most powerful, at the same time as being the most powerless. Their ‘followers’ are both controlled by them, and completely uncontrollable, and they are completely vulnerable to the media. I once tweeted that modern day fandoms are the modern day mobs, in the swiftness and ferocity in which they can turn on anyone who does not share the same views that they do. Someone could write a small sentence on Twitter, and it could be acted upon by hundreds of people within seconds, and within those seconds the person that wrote it has lost the majority of their power over it. In the instance they share something with the world they lose all power over it, because it can never be erased, and if someone acts on it in a way that they didn’t intend, they are both at fault and faultless. (Just a bundle of contradictions really).
Although arguments can be made that our society is in some ways more inclusive that 50, 60 years ago, in many ways there are even more divisions than there were previously. You can be isolated if you don’t like the same band as someone, the same Youtuber, artist, actor, model, anyone, If you state a view that someone disagrees with, or worst of all, an entire fandom disagrees with, you are liable to get verbally attacked by a million people typing furiously on their keyboards.
Imagine if Kylie Jenner decided to set her 81 million Instagram followers alone on you. If you said that you didn’t like her makeup, or her hair, up to 81 million people could verbally, cyberly, or even physically attack you (I mean, I have 100% that the majority of those 81 million people would NOT do that, I happen to follow Kylie, but I also don’t really care too much if people don’t like her). But equally, a lot of people would. Those people that claim she is their ‘Queen,’ that they ‘worship King Kylie,’ that she is complete ‘goals,’ they could turn on you within a moment.
For example, the thousands of people that started to comment snake emojis on anything Taylor Swift posted because of the dispute between her, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Kim fanned the flames, and let her adoring fans – followers! – do the rest. If, for example, this was a real physical example, say someone actually set a live snake on Taylor Swift (not going to happen really, her security is intense) Kim Kardashian herself would be outside of the blame, because she never instructed people to do anything. She maybe set a match, and let millions of being throw wood on the flame. Unlike Jesus (am I really comparing Jesus and Kim Kardashian right now??) people like Kim would not metaphorically ‘die’ for their followers, they would stand right back away from blame or hurt.
Does anyone else find this power they have terrifying? I, for one, am definitely part of the grand scheme, as I click that follow button without much thought about it, and although I like to think myself above the effects, I still find myself wanting to buy the same products as the people I ‘follow.’ Just for a lot of people younger than me, more vulnerable than me, this can lead into as far as feeling worthless if you cannot buy the same products, or you do not look like your ‘idol,’ which can lead to really dangerous avenues. Similarly, a lot of the products and clothes that famous people or bloggers advertise are being paid for by the companies that made them, so all we are really doing is following the wishes of massive corporations, and welcome to the great state of the world.
I am not for one minute suggesting that bloggers should not accept payment or sponsorship for their work, and I know the vast majority of bloggers will only work with brands that they personally trust enough to pass onto their followers, but the same cannot be said for ‘celebrities.’ The Kardashians constantly advertise waist trainers and ‘skinny’ tea which impacts your digestion, they lie about lip liners (and Kylie’s lies led to the horrific Kylie Lip Challenge) all because she didn’t admit she had had lip fillers. We all blindly follow fake news stories and share them to our own followers, creating an endless cycle, because although we are all desperate for followers, none of us know how to lead. We are all a follower of something or someone, but are we even capable of leading ourselves?