30 followers are enough: I live outside the social media "class system"

I'm going to spit out something that others may hesitate to admit: I hate how everyone has become obsessed with the number of followers on Instagram. Don't take me wrong, it takes immense hard work to cater to the new algorithms of the platform and an industry-like efficiency to churn content constantly.

But what irks me is that now the algorithm in our heads have become this-

Greater the number of followers ∝ success

I have "just" 1.3k followers. Do I think that I'm not good at my work? Absolutely not. I've managed to sell my artwork, be invited to host workshops, and get emails of people who have been moved by my work. Plus, I don't like labels on me. You know "creative", "an artist" etc. I think of myself as someone who just likes to draw, and create stories.

But social media platforms work on the system of putting everyone in a box. Be a brand, or you don't exist.

It's funny to think of how social media is termed as a liberal platform; the revolutionary place where " you don't follow the rules of the society".

But in reality, we all live in a cyber class system, much like in our offline lives. Number of followers dictate your place in the hierarchy, the content engagement is your revenue, and the algorithm is the constitution.

Again, it's completely your choice to 'live in that place'. And this part of the article is for those, like me, who don't want to live there. Trust me, this post is going to reassure your decision.

This year, I was invited as a speaker for a national level college festival hosted by Symbiosis Institute of Design, which is one of the best design schools in India.

I had hosted the workshop a year prior to it too. But it was an online session owing to the sudden rise in COVID-19 casualties in 2021. About 34 students showed up on Google Meet. And I thought it was the right number of students since I could focus on each participant in our one-hour lecture.

By the end , I had even become the muse to one of my student!

But I did not think the workshop was a success by the number since my brain is wired to think that at least 500 people should have turned up (remember Greater the number of followers success ? )

However, that perception changed this year. I had about the same number of students in 2022. The difference was that I got to see them together in a classroom!

I realised that 30 students are enough to fill a big classroom. With years of seeing the world through social media, I had forgotten what numbers felt like in person. And this workshop made me cheerful. (PS. the workshop was at 10:30pm!)

These were my audience who thought that they could actually learn something from me.

And like that, this incident made me feel okay in choosing to live outside the online class hierarchy.


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