Have you ever thought about how many people you follow?
The dictionary has lots of definitions for the word ‘follow’. It can mean to trace the movement or direction of something/someone. It can mean to conform to, or to act according to someone’s directions. It can mean to pay close attention to. But the definition I like most is that it can mean to copy what something/someone does.
With that in mind, I added up the number of people I follow. I started with Instagram… 202 people. On Pinterest, I follow 103. As for blogs, I follow around 30ish. Youtube… maybe another 20? And then I occasionally scroll through TikTok… maybe another 40 people. And if we’re being serious, we should count podcasts too- about 10. Give or take, that totals just over 400 people!
I look at that number and I know it’s not astonishingly huge- some people follow thousands of people just on one social media alone. But that’s not the point. The point is that I follow over 400 people. And each of those 400 people have influence over me. Whether I realise it or not, I am being influenced by hundreds of different people every. single. day.
Thinking about that shocked me- I’d never really thought about the power that the people I follow have over me.
You see, there is a certain inevitability as to what happens when we hit the follow button. When we follow someone, we will be led by them. Not necessarily in drastic ways, and definitely not always in bad ways, but the truth still stands: when we follow, we are being led.
The people we follow influence us. That’s the truth, and it’s true for any situation. Whether they’re people we follow on social media, people we follow in real life, characters we follow from movies and TV- they are all influencing us. They might influence us through the way they speak, the way they act, the way they dress. They might influence us through something they do, something they own, something they do or don’t eat. Through the music they listen to through to the hobbies they have and the shoes they own… through so many different things, we are being influenced.
It could be little things, good things, big things or bad things. But the point is, whether good, bad, big, or small, we are being influenced.
Following people is not bad. I want to make that clear. Bad things can come from it, but it is not bad. In fact, more often than not, it can be really good.
But it does become bad when we start getting led in the wrong direction.
When we begin idolizing the people we follow.
When we start being led away from Jesus.
The pull of the social media ‘following’ culture is strong. It’s like a crazy current, pulling us this way and that way. It pushes us and pulls us in every direction it can, except in the direction that matters… to the One whom we should be following above all others.
And then, before we know it, we are following other people more than we are following Jesus. We’re being led by other people more than we’re being led by Jesus, and slowly but surely, our focus on Jesus begins to blur and fade.
Go back to the beginning of this post and add up the number of people that you follow. Then look at that number, and ask yourself, ‘where on that list is Jesus?’
I don’t know where He falls on yours, but I can tell you that He sure hasn’t always been in first place on mine.
But here’s the thing, no matter how many people we follow, Jesus should always be number one.