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The Totem Pole of Twitter

February 1, 2012

via Wikipedia

I wasn’t exactly what one would call a social butterfly in high school. I was more like an owl who liked to take naps instead of go to Bojangles after school. It wasn’t because I hated everyone, or thought I was above them. It was mainly a lack of interest and a firm belief that Bojangles is one of the most overrated establishments in the history of mankind. But no matter how uninterested I was in the goings-on of my classmates, I still knew my place on the totem pole of popularity. And it wasn’t the top.

When you’re in high school, you look forward to getting off the totem pole (Aren’t you glad I was specific and didn’t say “off the pole,” making you all think I was a stripper in high school? Except if you are a high school stripper, please get off the pole and seek counseling.). You believe that no where else in life will things be divided by what table you sit at during lunch.


To this day, I still feel like life is divided like a high school cafeteria, and nowhere is this more apparent than Twitter.

On Facebook, everyone follows each other and so you’re on the same level. Sure, Laura or AC may have been way above you in high school, but now you’re friends on Facebook and you can see that she has just as many crazy relatives as you who make insensible comments on every post. On Twitter, you don’t have to follow everyone back, and even if you do, you can sort people in lists so you only have to read the updates of the people you care about. Twitter is basically the oligarchy of the social media world.

Here’s how it usually breaks down:

1. Celebrities: They don’t really count because they usually only follow about 13 people. Like their counterparts in high school, life has reached a pinnacle for them and there’s nowhere to go but down (in the number of Twitter followers).

2. Small World Celebrities: These people are usually bloggers or celebrities not of the Hollywood kind. They have tons of followers, and they often follow a lot of other people, but only respond to other Small World Celebrities, or Bridge Builders. Most people on Twitter are aspiring to become a Small World Celebrity, because that means you get a lot of feedback (positive reinforcement) and you can sell ads on your blog and become a Professional Blogger and war v-necks and striped shirts every day.

3. Bridge Builders: These are the people who could be Small World Celebrities, but they’re still a few steps shy of that. Either their book/blog hasn’t hit the big time, or they’re just not interested enough in becoming Online Famous. Small World Celebrities usually follow and respond to them, and this helps them get closer and closer to becoming a SWC. (It makes it seem more official if I use an acronym, right? Right.) They have a lot of followers, and will respond to most people who talk to them because they haven’t been barraged with everything yet, and still feel connected to the people below them on the totem pole.

4. Small Timers: These people usually update Twitter the most, and reply to others the most. They really, really, want to move up the totem pole. If this were a high school movie, they’d be crushing on Zack Siler or Jake Ryan, and spending their Friday nights figuring out ways to become a Bridge Builder or Small World Celebrity. They stick together via lots of replies and jokes with each other, often including Bridge Builders in these conversations, though the Bridge Builder usually doesn’t read the conversation until much later.

5. Posers: These people got Twitter out of curiosity, updated it five times, and then quit. You feel obligated to keep following them because you know them in real life, but it’s totally messing up your Follower/Following ratio.

Did I miss anything? I thought about giving examples of each, but that would be like making a Hot or Not list in high school, and that is definitely NOT hot. Besides, I’d rather be taking a nap.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2012 11:13 pm

    This post is perfection. I assume I’m #1, but I know I’m #4.


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