You are the 500 people you follow online.

Most people know you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, but the reality is we’re a combination of those people PLUS the 500 people we follow online. 

It happens slowly over time. A funny tweet. A follow for a follow. A new friend at a bar you want to keep in touch with. But now suddenly you’re allowing 50 new strangers in your headspace. 

Their  thoughts on politics, work and media are flooding your brain. Subconsciously influencing your way of thinking. 

After a while, like advertising, their thoughts can be indistinguishable from truth. 

Every follow is, in a way, a vote for who you are fundamentally as a person over time.

Take social media very seriously. 

I suggest doing a conscious audit of what you consume. 

Take a day to go through your feed and pay attention to which posts make you twinge or roll your eyes. Mute or unfollow them. I would caution against doing this too quickly though. Take some time to think about why it makes you uncomfortable. The right kinds of opposition helps you build mental resilience and keeps you out of ideological echo chambers.

Which posts make you laugh, feel good or inspire?

Like and retweet them. Engage with them. We save too much praise for DM and critique things publicly. It should be the opposite.

I’m reminded of the parable of the two wolves. 

“A Cherokee elder was teaching his young grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego.

The other is good- he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”

The boy thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,

“Which wolf will win?”

The elder simply replied,

“The one you feed.”

Tsalagi Tale

Which wolf will win on your feed?

The negativity and anxiety will increase with every bad follow. The positivity and energy can compound with the right base. Control your feed, control your mind.

This is an atomic habit that will compound and slowly transform you into the person you want to be. 

I recently joined an online writing community Write of Passage. I knew before starting that I would be required to be more public online and I had the same fears as anyone would. Would I be ridiculed or humiliated for “trying” online? I made a safe for work handle (hence @SFWGreg) with the honest belief that after I bombed out of this class I could burn the account and go back to lurking and RT wrestling jokes. 

Since it was a new account I started my base following everyone in my writing cohort. I didn’t have the built up garbage follows I had for the last 10 years. The shitty coworker, the finance bro, the anxious trending topic commentator. 

Everyone on my new feed was a writer or aspiring writer and that means they were thinkers. The right blend of optimistic but rational. It felt like a whole part of my brain that had lied dormant for years. I want to feed that good energy and expand it now while constantly pruning (muting) the bad. 

I recommend quarterly audits of your feed. I’m actually due for one myself.

It’s a good reminder as well to BE one of the good 500 people in someone’s feed. If you read this, go ahead and try to help someone out today online. 

There we go, I just fixed Twitter 😉

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