Twitter Friends

I have 165 “follower requests” on Twitter, 17 “friend requests” on Facebook, and 72 “invitations to connect” on LinkedIn. And I don’t know what to do.

These numbers no doubt are minuscule compared to those of the more prolific users of these prevalent social media platforms. I just wonder if I’m being disrespectful for not readily accepting their unsolicited overtures.

Of course I recognize that building one’s audience remains the holy grail of the social media set, not to mention bloggers. Didn’t The Times’s Brian Stelter just tell us how the founder of MacRumors abandoned his medical practice based on his (comfort)ability to monetize his blog with its 4.4 million visitors and 40 million monthly page views? (He’s in the minority, trust me.)

I ask: what harm is there in letting voyeuristic strangers follow you on Twitter or subscribe to your FriendFeed? It’s not like I’m posting anything obscene or career-limiting, let alone provocative.

Still, I feel strangely compelled to apply some discretion in deciding whom I choose to follow or by whom I wish to be friended or linked in. In a weird way, I’m proud of my admittedly smaller, but hand-picked social network(s), and that even includes Geni (my family tree).

Today, Vator.TV’s Bambi Francisco, formerly of CBS Marketwatch (and going back, Lou Dobbs’ “Moneyline”), framed her video interview with Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey as follows:

In 2004, I wrote: “I’m searched, therefore I am. To borrow from Rene Descartes’ philosophy, in today’s Internet-obsessed world, we know we exist, not because we think, but because we’re searched.” Today, thanks to Twitter, it’s more like “I’m followed, therefore I am.”

But are you? I mean wouldn’t you want your burgeoning existence in the social media world to be by design (preferably your own)? It may not be Rene Descartes, but isn’t there some truth to being judged by the friends you keep.

Should I strive to follow thousands and have thousands follow me? I think not. For me for now, it’s a quality versus quantity thing. I therefore try to resist PR vendors and headhunters, both of which stand to gain more from mining my contacts that I do theirs. I also bypass total strangers, as well as anyone who follows more than 500 people…a threshold that will invariably rise.