Some social media users say the number of followers garnered, have great impact on their self-worth and values.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that some respondents admitted to feeling an increase or decrease in self value with the rise and fall of their social media following.
Social media operates a fan-like system where people can like posts and also decide to follow accounts they enjoy content from on the platform.
High followership is usually linked to increased interaction, popularity and eventual celebrity or influencer status where the account holder can earn money for posting sponsored content.
However, some respondents who spoke to NAN said that while the celebrity status might be a long term goal, immediate validation on the idea that strangers value your content was the short term satisfaction.
Dorothy Essien, a model said she has been mocked several times for having less than a thousand followers on Instagram.
She said, “People laugh when you don’t have up to a thousand followers at least. I have been a victim. Followers are very important as you might not even be hired if you have really low followers.
“It has affected me a lot and I am always seeking ways to increase my followers so I can feel like people enjoy my work and content.”
Johansson Eseigbe, a doctor said the world was now a global village and one needs to know how many villagers are in his community. For him, followers are a good way to rate that.
“Gone are the days when you posted pictures on Facebook just to keep it there. It’s more than that now. Social media is king and you want to put your best foot forward and make sure people like it.
“You will certainly feel bad if after curating content for a while, you are still struggling with just about a hundred followers. It just means your spectrum of influence is not wide,” he said.
NAN reports that the craze for followers has led to some publicity stunts on social media with people faking events to attract attention.
A lot of follow-for-follow pages have been set up on Instagram and Twitter where accounts can rally followers for each other as a community.
Elizabeth Okoro, who runs one of such follow-for-follow groups said that it was necessary to maintain a level of influence and build on it, seeing as social media is a huge revenue stream.
She said, “the more followers you have, the more people want to pay you for sponsored posts.
“Apart from that, there is a sense of pride that comes with having a lot of followers that puts your mind at ease. It’s not always about the financial aspect,” she said.
Meanwhile, some respondents told NAN that while they have felt pressured, they still were not bent on doing anything to get more followers.
Joseph Ogunjimi, an artist said, “The pressure is there. People want to be popular on social media but it does not concern me.
“I have been mocked and if you aren’t strong, it can affect your esteem but it’s just social media to me,” he said.
Speaking on the effects of the popularity contest, a psychologist, Dr Ifeanyi Ogbuagu said that several studies have linked social media use and depression.
He said, “Plenty of studies have found correlations between higher social media use and poorer mental health, including depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation, lower self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts.
“The craze for followers and popularity also places people in a box where they draw satisfaction from how many accolades they seem to get from strangers” he said.
He also advised social media users to regulate the amount of time they spend on the platform and find ways to interact with people physically.