Following back is reactive. It says “I’ll follow you if you follow me” or “I’ll give you my attention if you give me your attention.”
As an alternative to following back, I offer the concept of following forward.
Following forward is about orienting your activities around a forward-looking focus on the interests, interactions, and ideas that move you towards your goals.
Following forward says, “If you’re doing something interesting, I give myself permission to take delight in your gift whether you want to be my fan or not.”
Following forward says “I will never turn away from what fascinates me merely because it fails to offer the promise of greater popularity.”
The value of social media lies in its capacity to facilitate real connections with real people based on real preferences and real passions; not in its potential for making us appear more connected than we actually are.
Instead of following people who make you seem like you’re the person you wish you were, follow people who will help you become the person you intend to be.