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Hypothesis: On twitter, when your follower count exceeds the number you're following, you become a little nutty.

I've noticed this odd trend where if people gain a lot of twitter followers, then often their views become reinforced to the point that outsiders look at their tweets and wonder what happened to make them express such ideas.

But there's bias here: for tweets like these to be noticed, they need to be seen. Only those with followers are in that position. It makes sense that wacky tweets we notice tend to come from people with lots of followers. So I'm not sure if it's true, or if there are just a lot of odd people on twitter.

My own experiences indicate that the sweet spot is around 1k followers. More than that, you attract a lot of noise. Less than that, and it's hard to get noticed. But perhaps this is just personal taste.

The reason I mentioned this is that I'm in the fortunate position of having attracted a lot of followers recently (for whatever reason), but I'm concerned that things will turn sour. I like twitter right now. There are cool people on there, and I've met friends through the platform. But will it still feel like that at 5k followers? 10k? 50k? I feel like I should stop whatever is accelerating the follower count before it reaches an inflection point. So the article resonated with me.

If you're ever jealous of people with lots of followers (or fame in general, for that matter), just tune in to https://twitter.com/paulg and see the way people respond to pretty much anything he says. What's the point of being famous if you can't express an idea without being beset by thoughtless people?




Alternately, everyone has dumb thoughts from time to time, and the bigger and more tempting your megaphone, the more you risk shouting it out before having the chance to wake up 3 days later thinking "wow, that's completely insane."

This is also one of the reasons I abhor twitter. Everything is RIGHT NOW. Really, nobody should send a message to 1000+ people without sleeping on it or getting a second opinion.


Most people are also easily flattered and everybody is naturally opinionated. It's hard to keep your ego in check.

For example, you see respectable scientists and artists write a popular book, then the next one (because their publisher nags them), then a third one that is borderline unprofessional (no time, publisher send ghostwriter), and so on. Maybe some of them realize that a best seller can yield a lot of money and in no time time they appear in talk shows talking about topics they couldn't possibly know anything about (alien invasions, politics, the future of mankind). Finally, they appear to be nuts and everybody is angry about how "fake" they are and speculates about their mental problems.

If I would get book proposals and interview requests every day, I'd probably end up the same way.


Tucker Carlson once said it was hard to see his flaws after success because “everything about the experience reinforces what you’re doing.”[1]

Fame can be a funny teacher in that respect. The feedback you’d normally get after making a mistake can be smothered by all the praise and money that still pours in, irrespective of the decisions you make (at least in the short-term).

After a while, you can end up being this cartoonish version of yourself, trained by the preferences of other people and what they like and don’t like about you.

I think it’s how celebrities end up in situations where they’re blindly unaware of things that seem obvious to most people or act out in strange ways (like Bill Cosby making a distasteful Fat Albert joke before he goes to court, Kevin Spacey making videos in the persona of Francis Underwood, Britney Spears shaving off her hair, Dave Chapelle’s self-induced “exile”, OJ Simpson posting Twitter videos, and of course Kanye West’s song “I Love Kanye” where he sardonically talks about all the different things people want from him).

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/12/tucker-...


> Hypothesis: On twitter, when your follower count exceeds the number you're following, you become a little nutty.

I follow 8 people, and have 1029 followers. Following this hypothesis, I would be batshit crazy. I don't think this is a very good hypothesis.


Yeah I tend to associate having even followers/following being people that are trying to build up their account by following loads of people hoping to get followed back.


I am at 1,189 following and 12.6K followers.

I don't think I've gotten nuttier, but I have gotten more circumspect. I'm cognizant that my broader audience size means I can assume any person will have context for my tweets. It's really hard to make good jokes without a shared understanding so my humor tends to be more watered down.

I do miss the time when my twitter feed felt more like a hangout with a group of like-minded game dev and programming language nerd friends. It's still that, but it's sort of that + some nebulous cloud of strangers, which effects the feel.

At the same time, I am grateful that having a higher Twitter profile helps draw more attention to my writing. I've sold more books because of it and that materially helps me and my family, so I certainly can't complain.

It's not worse, just different. It feels very much like the difference in how you conduct yourself at a party with friends, versus on stage at a work conference. I'm still me and I still try to be interesting and funny. But I'm a more carefully cultivated, safe subset of me in the latter venue.


There is a threshold where your Twitter account flips from being a medium you communicate among a group to it’s just a microblogging platform. It’s amazing how much noise anyone with even a moderate number of followers will get as responses. It’s even more amazing how people can still continue to post good stuff after that.


I'm following ~375 and have ~800 followers, so by your theory I'm becoming a little nutty. Hopefully that hasn't happened yet, but I have definitely noticed thinking about tweets a lot harder recently before sending them - "would I be embarrassed to say this in front of my mom?" basically.

I suspect you're right about the sweet spot.


I got my follows close to 50k, but Twitter seems to squelch my posts a lot.

Doubtless due to the flavor of views expressed.

Or maybe because I've never paid to boost anything.

And then I realized, as with TFA, that attaining the notoriety of the BigNames wasn't worth the hassle, and for this reason not cited in the article:

As we lurch toward a "social credit" system, 20 years of stupid gags from Slashdot to Twitter to HN will only be so much rope to hang me.

Best focus on having fun until that day the fun has me.


Q.E.D.


Yes, but Q.E.D. your parent's point, not yours.


Q.E.D. "fun has me".




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