Image [cc] Aftab Uzzaman

Interesting post from Julie Neidlinger entitled, “Who You Follow on Social Media Is Changing You.” I read it over the weekend and really didn’t think too much about what she was saying at the time, but I sent out at Tweet to let others know the article was worth a read. Caren Silverman sent a follow up to my tweet where she asked “Have you experienced this?” It was that response that made me go back to the original article and begin asking how much am I affected by those that I follow on social media??

The juxt of the article says that the five people you spend the most time change your Mind, Attitude, and your Interests, and that you should select those people carefully… both in your physical world, and your online world.

I have a pretty small circle of people I hang out with in the ‘real world’, but a very large circle of people I hang out with in social media. In both worlds, there is such a diversity in the relationships that I feel that I really shouldn’t introduce them to each other as they have such different opinions that they wouldn’t get along. I especially noticed this during the 2012 presidential election, and right now I see serious divides along the whole Paula Deen situation. I really like this diversity because it gives me different perspectives, even though I’m pretty set in my opinions. Hearing multiple opinions of the same topic really helps me solidify my own ideas, while remaining empathetic to those on the other side of an issue.

The diversity also helps expose me to things that I might otherwise miss. If I only had Law Librarian friends, I might miss out on issues related to pricing or marketing. If I only had friends that listened to girl-punk-bands from Los Angeles, I might miss out on a great Jazz musician that died thirty years ago. If I only listened to my current friends, I might miss out on some events that are happening with my friends in the Army or in High School, or even from Grade School.

Speaking from my own experience, I’d have to say that who you follow does affect you because it expands your experiences. How you let it change you is really up to you. Neidlinger says that it is okay to be selective in your networks, that it is okay to say no when you don’t like how you react to certain people, and that you can be exclusive in who you include in your networks. The results of how you let others impact your own personality, beliefs, and practices are really up to you. So, choose wisely, add and weed occasionally, and always remember who were yesterday, who you are today, and who you want to be tomorrow.