Follow me … please?

Arthur Wingsmith
I’m sure many of us think about the nature of Followers from time to time, and that is understandable. Chiefly, this is because the early Twenty-First Century can be characterized as an era of rapidly expanding distanciated-hyper-sociality.

Many have them, some are acquiring them, still more want them. Most, myself included, have them briefly, before they vanish like so much pixie dust in a thunderstorm. I am speaking of a vaguely defined, yet oddly specific, ‘they’. Not necessarily the ‘they’ that seem to say so much about many things. You know? The ones that can never be found when you want to know exactly who they are. Example:

“They say that rabbits don’t like concrete falling on them very much.”<

“Who says that?”

The ‘they’ I am referring to in this instance – and this is why it is oddly specific – are Followers; capital ‘F’. Not the kind of ‘Followers’ cultivated by cult leaders, but those of the less creepy social media variety. (They are known by other names too, and may be part of the faceless mass of the ‘they/them’ that say many things, on many relevant topics. I can’t really say for sure. There’s something of an opacity there.)

I’m sure many of us think about the nature of Followers from time to time, and that is understandable.  Chiefly, this is because the early Twenty-First Century can be characterized as an era of rapidly expanding distanciated-hyper-sociality.That’ right, I wrote: distanciated-hyper-sociality. A confusing term, one that I just invented. (At least, I think I did; some social science type might have already beaten me to the punch. Inventing new terms is pretty much the bread and butter for practitioners of that arcane branch of knowledge.) Thus, it will need some unpacking. I’ll try to be quick, as I have a special guest today …”Thank you. It is a great pleasure to be here.””Not yet, I haven’t gotten to the interview part.””Really? It sounded like you were introducing me.””In a little while, I have to do this general introduction bit first.””Oh. My mistake; please, continue with your overly technical ‘introduction bit‘.”… Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes: distanciated-hyper-sociality. As a label, it is meant capture the sense of …


“What was that?”

“Just getting a bit sleepy here, is all. Perhaps you should invest in some more uncomfortable chairs. You know? To keep your guests awake. It’s just … well .. it’s all a bit boring, isn’t it? Distance-ee-blah-dee-bloo, or whatever. Who cares?”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, but I thought it necessary to get a solid working definition of how ‘Followers’ work on the internet.”

“What’s to define? People click a virtual button. It’s not like it’s quantum mechanics. Although, having had to sit through some of your introduction, I’m not surprised you are having problems. Serious yawn-fest. I’d be astounded if people were still reading the post at this point. Let’s move on to the interview part; kick in the content early, I say.”

“[Sigh.] … Okay, let’s get started.”



AW: This week’s Arthur Wingsmith (the blog) is a little different from the usual fare. For the first time, I have a guest, whose professional interests were made known to me through series of ‘spam e-mails’. Initially, I was thrilled, as my guest is the first person – ever – to have sent me an e-mail through my contact page. I thought it might be a message from my first ‘Fan’ (capital F). Instead, he was trying to sell me his services, along with a useful ‘widget’.But my disappointment soon turned to optimism. After a few meaningless exchanges, it became clear that this guest – whom you are about to meet – has a deep knowledge of things ‘bloggy’ and content related. And, at his suggestion, he has consented (for a small fee) to be interviewed for this week’s post.It is with hearty gratitude, therefore, that I would like to introduce my guest, @stixit2u78. @stixit2u78, welcome to my blog.@stixit2u78: …AW: That’s your cue.@stixit2u78: It was? Are you sure? It’s just that there’s been a little confusion over that.AW: Yes. Definitely your cue, that time.@stixit2u78: Ah, good. Well, Arthur, let me say what a great pleasure it is to be here, and that I am a big fan of some of your work.

AW: Why, thank you. That’s very kind of you to … wait. Some of my work? Which work?

@stixit2u78: Primarily, I’m a fan of your name. A good name: Arthur Wingsmith. Very authorial. The rest, I regret to say, is appalling. Seriously stinky.

AW: I don’t think it’s that bad. I mean, there’s Justin Tempo and the Quantum Entanglement Fern. I thought that thing about cats was pretty clever, too

@stixit2u78: Hahahahaha, hehehehehehe, hawhaw, snort!

AW: I fail to see what is so funny.

@stixit2u78: Heheheh … ha …. Sorry. I’m okay, really.

AW: I really don’t understand what the problem is. I just don’t believe that my work is as bad as you say. Stop it! Your laughter is not helping. Did you … did you just wet your pants?

@stixit2u78: Only a little. Look, of course you think that about your own work, Arthur. We all think things, that doesn’t make them true. You don’t gain my kind of experience as a ‘Contentineer’ without recognizing garbage when you see it.

I’m sorry that you can’t handle the reality, but I’m just exercising my right to ‘professional free speech’. Normally I charge through the nose for this sort of consultation. Don’t worry, I can help you. Take your name, for instance.

AW: But you said you liked my name, that’s about the only thing you’ve said you liked.

@stixit2u78: Did I? Oh, so I did, and I do. The problem is not so much in the name itself, but more in the fact that it’s not your real name. Now, just bear with me a bit.

We all know that you have real name, since you state baldly in your first post that you do. In addition, you have occasionally alluded to this fact in different places. Naturally, this makes people curious, but when they go to your ‘About’ page, or to your ‘blogger’ profile, all they get is … well, you get nothing of substance. I suppose you just don’t realize how annoying that is.

My advice – my professional advice – is that somewhere on the internet you associate your real name with your ‘Arthur Wingsmith’ persona. It’s a courtesy for people who do read you. At the very least, they’ll be able to check your actual name against other things you may have written, and avoid them. Because, as I said: stinky.

AW: I do have my real name associated with the ‘Arthur Wingsmith’ persona on the internet.

@stixit2u78: Bullshit.

AW: …

@stixit2u78: Really? Where?

AW: I have a Linkedin profile under my real name. I listed ‘Arthur Wingsmith (blog)’ in the publications section. In fact, it’s the only publication I have listed.

@stixit2u78: You should provide a link.

AW: I’m not going to provide a link. But, if you really must know my real name, try typing in the search string: linkedin, arthur wingsmith (blog), publications.

@stixit2u78: Wait, let me just check that …

Well, will you look at that? You do have a real name on the internet. Oh, I can see why you’ve gone with  Arthur Wingsmith instead. Hold on, I just want to have a quick look at your profile.

Oh dear. You’re not very accomplished are you? I’m almost tempted to say that you’re ‘nobody’.

Say, why don’t you have a photo of yourself here?

AW: I just haven’t gotten around to it yet, and I don’t have anything recent. Look, the whole name thing is complicated. Could we just refocus back onto the topic I wanted you to talk about?

@stixit2u78: There was a topic? What was it again?

AW: Followers; the topic is supposed to be about Followers. Specifically, how to attract and maintain a Follower base as a way to build and grow a blogging platform. You indicated in your spam-mail that your experience as a ‘Contentineer’ could help with that.

@stixit2u78: I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. Perhaps you should have provided some sort of working definition or something. Never mind.

It’s simple really. You know the packages that come up on social media, where you can purchase followers and likes, and so forth?

AW: Yes, I have seen those.

@stixit2u78: Well, you should buy as many of those as your budget allows. See, simple. What’s with the ‘face-palm’?

AW: But those aren’t real followers, are they? That’s just bloat. I’m asking: how do you attract, and retain, real human beings to your blog, or website? That is, people that might actually pay attention to your content.

@stixit2u78: I don’t see why they have to be real? It’s really about seeming to have a lot of Followers in the ‘webby-spready’ system. ‘webby-spready’, that’s a technical term. It’s basic principle is this: if you seem like you have a lot of followers and are popular, ipso facto, you do and are. Look, it’s on my business card: In the world of webby-speady, seeming is believing. Is your face supposed to be that color?

AW: …

@stixit2u78: Okay then, if you really must have – air quotes – “real people” following you, you could just try asking them nicely. I don’t think that would work for you, though.

AW: Why not?

@stixit2u78: Because you’re a bit sensitive, aren’t you? You’d probably get upset when your request didn’t bring any results. I bet you cry when you discover that the people who were following, stopped.

Yep, you strike me as a bit of a princess. Not the modern, independent woman that slays monsters kind; the self-actualized princess, so popular today. I mean, the traditional: “oh, I broke a nail and tripped over this tree root while running away from that wolf – save me fair prince.” That’s the kind of princess I think you are. No offence, but you seem a bit … wimpy. You’d be no good in the webby-spready, that’s for sure.


@stixit2u78: No need to shred your underwear there …  doll-feet.

AW: You see that chair; the one you think is just a little too comfortable?

@stixit2u78: Of course, I’m sitting on it. Duh!

AW: Well, you can take that chair, and very slowly – slowly mind you – you can …


[Blogger’s note: I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to @stixit2u78 for my unprofessional behavior and loss of temper. In particular, I deeply regret any chair related comments made by me, and also a furniture related incident that may have followed. As a show of good faith, and by way of extending an olive branch, I shall now implement one piece of advice given to me by @stixit2u78 during the interview. This is why I ask any of you who may still be reading, if you could … [deep breath] … Follow me … please?]

[‘Real Name’s Note’: The Linkedin profile Arthur mentioned has been updated since he conducted the interview with @stixit2u78.]

Source: Wikimedia Commons.


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