This is why numbers don't matter.

Each and every time I lose a follower on Twitter – I smile because that is one less person who didn’t care all that much in the first place...

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always been weary of social networks. When MySpace took over the world – I avoided it like the plague. I was so against it, in fact, that my friends thought it would be fun to make an account for me – posting pictures, adding friends, and generally making me look silly.

I’ve changed a lot since then. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve embraced the world of social media. I’ve connected with new friends and reconnected with old ones. I’ve updated my status once or twice. I’ve ‘liked’ pages, and commented on photos, and said happy birthday to people I haven’t seen in a long time.

A number of years ago, though, I learned something important about social networks, and why the numbers don’t matter nearly as much as we like to think they do.

So sit back, make yourself a cup of tea, and relax – because, my friends – its story time...

Believe it or not – I spent most of my transition into adulthood chasing the dream of rock stardom. I played guitar in a rock and roll band. We toured North America. We released albums and music videos. And we had the time of our lives doing it. Oh, and we learned a lot too – about ourselves; about each other; and about how little a website called MySpace truly meant to our band.

On our first coast to coast U.S. tour – we went out of our way to schedule a show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Having received a concentration of online requests from kids who lived there – we felt confident that it would be a worthwhile stop. As show time approached, however, the venue remained completely empty. Where had we gone wrong? Why would all these ‘fans’ who had taken the time to send us comments asking us to play in Baton Rouge not bother to show up? I sat, disappointed, and tried to come to terms with the fact that our online fan base would not always project, with accuracy, the number of people who cared enough about our band to come support us on tour. 

Deflated – I began to wonder what the point of touring was. Why had we traded in our jobs, our money, our time, our girlfriends – only to spend months on end living in a van, sleeping in parking lots, and playing shows to nobody. My thoughts would have continued this downward spiral I’m sure – but, just as I thought I couldn't feel any worse about the situation – something absolutely incredible happened.

I was sitting shirtless in the front seat of our van reading a book. I hadn’t showered in a few days. The rest of the boys, just as dirty and tired as I, sat in the back playing video games. We were stalling – trying to buy as much time as possible before we’d take the stage in the hope that more kids might show up. A car pulled up slowly beside our van, and with more excitement that we were used to seeing at our shows, four boys jumped out. These four boys would change everything. You see, these boys had just driven 6 hours from northern Mississippi – the next state over – just to see us play.

They drove 6 hours – across state lines – just to see us play.

We played our hearts out that night to four boys from Mississippi – one of the best shows we would ever play as a band. It was also an important night for me, as a human being. Amidst all the potential for disappointment on that humid night in Louisiana, I discovered that numbers don’t mean anything. We build our lives around numbers, we build our bands around MySpace popularity, and we build our personal and creative endeavors around how many people we can get to ‘like’ us online. But that night - playing to four fans that really, truly cared about our music – that was more valuable than playing to thousands of people who don’t care at all. 


I realized something that day - something about why quality is more important than quantity. About why we need to focus less on the numbers - and more on the people - on the quality of the connections in our lives.

I don’t want my worth to be defined by a number. Not by followers. Not by ‘likes’. You can’t judge your worth by the number of people that click a button on your page – for, that number does not reflect how much those ‘followers’ truly care. Even now, of the 214 followers that I have on Twitter, I could count on my fingers and toes, the ones that truly add value to my endeavours – the ones who truly matter. It’s those connections that we need to invest ourselves in – those are the people who deserve our time and attention. It’s the guy from Seattle who takes the time to keep me up to date on the happenings of his life – and takes a genuine interest in mine as well. It’s the girls in Italy and Portugal who – on visits to London – made the time to meet me for a cup of tea. It’s the fellow in San Francisco who is inspired enough by my ideas – making time to meet his own strangers on the opposite side of the world. It’s the girl from Australia who asks for my advice, and means it when she says ‘thank you’. These are the people who matter the most.

Does that mean that you should cast aside the rest, and favor the few who mean something? No, not exactly. It means that we need to recognize the potential that everyone has to mean something to us. The potential that every person has to add value to our lives. But we also need to be okay with the fact that not everyone will. We need to concentrate on being honest and genuine. To focus on producing quality content - content based on things we believe in - things that make us happy. If we focus on that from the get go - the growth may not come quickly, but the connections we make will matter. 

Stop chasing numbers – stop obsessing over metrics – and remind yourself of the importance of nurturing the relationships that really are worth something – online, and off.   

After all, you never know when four boys from Mississippi will show up and change your life completely. It’s these people that will help you get to where it is you want to go. They are the ones who are listening.

Speak to them.


  1. This was a good one, Greg. Something I definitely need to remind myself about sometimes.

  2. @Bex
    Thanks Becky! It's tough sometimes isn't it. But we need to keep it in mind. It's funny, because, a big part of all of this is that I want to inspired people - to change lives... I think, in many ways, I've already done that. I've already won. The rest, it's just extra!

  3. That was really encouraging, Greg, thanks for sharing. In this world where quantity and capital gain seem like everything,I like how the small things matter more. How four wired fans can make an incredible difference.

  4. Outstanding post Greg!

    My favorite line, "I discovered that numbers don’t mean anything."

    I'm guilty of this. Worrying about numbers of follower like its a measurement of my own personal worth. Na uh. No more. So many bloggers say if I can impact just one person through my work, I would be happy.

    Really great post. Time to start focusing on the WHY of my work and not some exterior outcomes of numbers. Reminds me of an Einstein quote, "Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted."

    Cheers Greg!

  5. @My life and I Thanks for your input and encouragement! It's very true, isn't it - as Chris says below, if you can make a difference for just one person, isn't that enough?

  6. @Chris Barba Thanks for that Chris. I hop back and forth myself - for periods of time, I am very content with the growth I've achieved and pleased with the connections I've made. It's easy though to mix up the desire to reach more with all the numbers and metrics that come hand in hand with growth. I still do get caught up in the urge to chase after those numbers - but it's comments like yours, connections with people like you, who take the time to connect and interact - they help to keep me on track. So thanks again - and keep up what you are doing as well, you'll always have a supporter in me!

  7. Liking this a lot, Greg. Great reminder to focus on quality over quantity. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Niall. A bit late - but the story of cup # 28 with you know who is on the way. If you're not sure - it's you! Cheers mate. I hope you're well!

  8. Wonderful, wonderful post! Like many above me have said, thank you for the reminder. I will be passing this on! Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks Leah. Merry (very belated) Christmas 2011 to you too!

  9. There are so many things in this world which we love ,which inspire us to make an effort to make our life more purposeful.but we often dont know whether its happiniess or objectivity which actually counts in our life. Dont u think most of the time we are stuck in the dualities of our life ?? What do we accomplish? Something which we like or is expected out of us?? Are both necessary?
    You know what, our mind chooses to believe, interpret and act diffrently at diffrent times and that is something we dont have quite a control over. It might so happen that in one point we might seek quality over quantity. But you know what failure often and not always ,teaches us to be more wise and virtuous in our life. At times there are more than one purpose for a thing we do ,however we choose to acknowledge the one which we want to showcase to ourselves, and to the rest of the world.

    1. Thanks for the comment Amrita.

      I certainly think we get stuck in life's dualities. Though, I think it's even more complicated than that. Life has been split into so many components. Especially in the 'western' world - there seems to be a lot of focus on keeping things separate. We strive to live a private life and a professional one. We are one person with our friends, another with family, another at work, and then another at home with our partners. With all this internal segregation - it's no wonder that we find ourselves lost and unable to connect. We have a hard enough time connecting with ourselves, let alone connecting with the others around us.

      There will always be a place in life for responsibilities and expectations - I think it's about finding balance.

      In my own case - I think I am seeking a greater understanding of that balance, and by going to extremes to connect with others, perhaps I can pull myself closer to the 'middle point' where connection is no longer something I have to strive for - just something that is part of my and my life every day without effort.

      That's the goal, anyways!