You Are More Than The Numbers

Your follower count doesn’t define you.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Recently, my blog hit 300 followers here on Medium 👏, but instead of being proud of myself and grateful that people actually cared enough to read and follow my blog, I caught myself feeling a bit down.

It’s easy to get bogged down with the number of likes, retweets, follows, and views your posts on social media get. So easy to compare yourself to those who are doing more, creating more, and get more views than you. It’s disheartening, and it might make you feel like you aren’t as good as those you compare yourself to.

Do The Numbers Matter?

It’s widely known that social media has been linked to increased anxiety and depressive symptoms, and there are lots of reasons for this, one of them being increased social comparison. Social comparison is the way in which we derive our sense of self through comparing ourselves to others. Comparing ourselves and everything about our lives, to what we see of other peoples lives on social media can have a huge impact on self-esteem. This applies to comparing the number of likes your posts get to other peoples, and judging your self-worth based on that number. It’s not good, because you are worth so much more than the numbers.

I have a habit of getting into this comparison “funk” a lot. I put myself down and feel as though I am not good enough in comparison to others, and have a similar feeling towards the things I produce. But I have to remind myself, the numbers don’t matter. As long as I am doing something I enjoy, why should I give up because of some popularity index? Some people (myself included, sometimes) have it in their mind that more followers / likes / views == more important / better, and while I am not denying that more followers certainly eludes to “popularity”, it doesn’t mean that someone with more followers, or who gets more likes is “better” than you, because you are more than just numbers.

Let’s say you have created an Instagram account to post the art you create as a hobby, but you’re feeling down because your posts don’t get many likes, and that makes you feel like your art isn’t good enough. That simply isn’t true! Your work is good enough, and so are you. The number of likes your instagram post gets does not define how “good” your work is. When you compare your likes to those of other accounts, you are comparing yourself to people on different paths, who are at different stages in their journeys, and who have completely different circumstances and experiences to you. Those people you think are “better” than you probably started their account way before you, have accumulated followers and activity on their page over time, and they probably felt the same way you do when they were where you are now.

This social pressure created by that little heart shaped button is the exact reason why Instagram is trialling not showing the number of likes on posts. If you can’t see how many likes another user got on their post, it’s harder for you to compare its success to your own posts, attempting to reduce the levels of social comparison and hopefully reducing some of those anxious feelings.

I think this would drastically improve my personal experience of at least one of the social media platforms I frequent, and might even encourage me to post a little more on Instagram than I do now. I also believe that I would be a lot happier if I would just stop checking my Medium stats / Twitter follower count and comparing those numbers to other people’s.

Don’t Let The Numbers Hold You Back

If you’re like me, and you’re feeling a little down over the stats, step away for a moment and remember what makes you happy and why you are doing what you’re doing in the first place. I’m sure almost everyone experiences some kind of feelings like these because of the nature of social media today. We all need to remember: You are not defined by the number of followers you have, and what you produce is worth more than the number of likes it gets on social media. You are so much more than these numbers!

Do what makes you happy and don’t let the numbers hold you back!

Software Engineer & Comp. Sci. graduate, writing about professional development, working in tech, and all things coding. https://www.elletownsend.co.uk

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