The Internet has done strange things to us. We think we are more important than we are and we have ways to measure that. We think we have relationships with people we have never met and are not likely to meet.
I am not now, nor have I ever been a popular person. I am ok with this. I am an introvert and I prefer to have a small number of close friends.
But let’s look at my Internet statistics. I have 164 followers on Twitter. I follow 128. I have 87 friends on Facebook (and 12 of these are family). I have 83 connections on LinkedIn and I only add people there that I have actually met. These are people I have worked with and former students. I am not mayor of any place because I don’t use four square and I have never checked my Klout because, well that is the point of this post.
I am not sure I like social media. I see it has some benefits and it has allowed me to reconnect with people as we have moved and lost touch. But I see the vast majority of social media as talking to yourself at best and verbal masturbation at its worst.
I went to my uncle’s funeral a year and a half ago. It was interesting because there were flowers sent from university presidents and when the funeral procession drove from the funeral home to the cemetery everyone in town stepped out on to the sidewalks and stood solemnly as we drove by. My uncle was not the mayor or even a particularly prominent person. But he had grown up in that town and his friends and friends of the family who had known him all came to pay their respects and say good bye.
I don’t think we can measure our importance by the number of friends or followers or connections or Klout scores. I think this kind of measure of our success makes us think we are more than we are. The real question for your importance is your real connections – the people whose lives you have touched.
So ask yourself – if I died who would come to my funeral?