An Accounting of Social Media Numerical Popularity

I think Twitter should hide everyone’s number of followers. I hate how social media quickly becomes a popularity contest. — Jeremy Cowart via Twitter

Let’s just get it out of the way: as of 11:00am today I have approximately 1000 blog subscribers, 1324 followers on Twitter, 137 contacts and 693 followers on Flickr, 387 friends on Facebook, 519 followers on Virb°, 38 followers on Readernaut, 2502 followers on Ffffound!, 57 connections on LinkedIn, 2 friends on, and so on and so forth.

Copywriting choices aside (followers, friends, contacts, etc.), there’s something implicit in social media that all of those 6000+ people are connected to me in some form of “friendship,” however loose that friendship may be. But what does it all mean? Surely this isn’t community. Or is it? (I tend to think of you, the blog readers/commenters as a community, but I’m not so sure on the other circles and networks.)

I think I have enough relational margin in my life to truly know a handful of people. Thus anything beyond that becomes some measure of decreasing “knowing” akin to the spectrum of online friendship I posted earlier. 

So the question becomes, is it actually social at all?