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The Scary Trend of Becoming a Follower


There are certain bloggers who are “household names” of sorts. At least, among other bloggers. You know them. They’re the most well-respected bloggers out there in terms of giving blogging and new media advice, and they have hundreds of thousands of followers. Every post they write gets dozens of comments and even more tweets and Facebook likes. Many of them are where they are today because they’ve been blogging for over a decade.

And that’s awesome. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some of these bloggers in person, and I can tell you that they are kind, humble, and interesting people, even away from the computer screen. I’ve never met a blogging “guru” who is an asshole in real life, probably because if you are, you aren’t going to hold guru status for long – your fans are going to stop being fans.

I’m using  the term guru here because it’s fitting for this weird evolution I’m seeing among blogging fans – this tendency to become a follower. I don’t mean follower in the same way you can be a Twitter follower, but rather follower in the same way a philosopher or religious figure would have a follower. In fact, maybe blogging gurus are the modern equivalent to people like Socrates. They have this weird group of followers that will buy anything they sell, applaud after anything they say, and read anything they write. They’ve stopped using their brains.

And that scares me.

I am unashamed to say that I am a fan of certain blogging gurus. I think it is a good thing to have role models in your life, because there are people out there who have a lot to teach us. But what scares me is to see fans turn into disciples. They blindly follow these bloggers they respect and even fight on their behalf when someone says something critical of them.

  • They retweet and like the guru’s links without reading them first, because they just know that they’ll be good.
  • They flock to read any blog post the guru recommends, regardless of topic.
  • They follow the guru’s advice without critically thinking about whether or not it is the right advice for them.
  • They chastise anyone who is not a follower of the guru.
  • They purchase products from the guru, even if they don’t have a use for said product.
  • They review all of the guru’s products in a completely positive manner, even if there are some disadvantages or problems.

Can you see how these things start to get dangerous?

We need to think. There are a hell of a lot of people out there giving great blogging advice, and some of that advice is even contradictory to other great advice. That’s because the blogger assumes that their fans will actually think, not blindly follow them. Maybe we should have to put warnings on out blogs? It’s kind of like the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit. Sure, there was no warning on the cup that the contents were hot, but McDonald’s assumed that people would actually use some common sense and realize that coffee is hot. If you spill it on your crotch, you’re going to get burned. Duh.

So my question for you is this: do you actually think about the blogging advice you read?

It does not matter where you read the advice. It could be written or promoted by the smartest blogger in the world, but not every piece of advice will work for every blogger. What works for *insert name here* will not work for you – at least not in the same way. If there was some kind of formula that worked for everyone, we would all be doing it! Blogging gurus can tell you what they’ve done to be successful, but I guarantee that you cannot do exactly the same thing with your blog and get the same results.

You can take pieces of advice from other bloggers – in fact, I encourage it. There’s a lot out there to learn. But beware becoming a blind follower of anyone. The best bloggers out there have their heroes and teachers, but they are also critical thinkers who are paving paths of their own. After all, don’t you want to be a guru yourself someday? You won’t get there by being someone else’s follower.


  • Lynette Young

    This was BRILLIANT! I call those mindless drone followers ‘stalker fanboys’. They are even more fun to watch at conferences chasing down their idol. Actually that is a really good word to use – ‘idol’ – any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion. Hey, we all have to have our own personal rockstars…

    • Alli

      Oh, yes, I love that word for this situation – IDOL. I’m guilty of being a fangirl of sorts, because there have been people in the blogging and freelance writing world that truly have changed my life. But there’s a difference between being a fan of someone you respect and being a mindless zombie when it comes to supporting someone!

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