Lies, Damn Lies and Follower Counts. What Really Matters

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There’s been a lot of focus on follower counts, friend counts, subscriber counts, viewer counts and readers as of late. And, those are important metrics the from the standpoint of expanding your impact on the world…and potentially, your income.

But, sometimes I wonder if we’re spending too much time on the wrong metric…

Here’s what I care about:

  • I care about writing something so raw and real, it moves people beyond laughter, beyond tears, beyond breathlessness, to action
  • I care about the lush aroma of razor-thin sliced garlic, aged olive-oil and vidalia onions wafting through the kitchen on a lazy Sunday, emboldened by notch-too-loud Led Zeppelin and a glass of red wine that dances me from counter to counter as I create a dinner feast for my wife and little girl.
  • I care that my astonishingly beautiful, kind and brilliant wife feels loved, feels safe, feels supported and free to be who she needs to be in the world
  • I care about driving along on cool summer night, windows down, palm snaking through in the wind while Sweet Child of Mine fills the air.
  • I care about riding alone on a deeply-wooded slice of singletrack, sweat peeling from my eyes as the sound of my breath fuses with the whir of the chain on the beat-up Turner mountain bike I built by hand 10 years ago.
  • I care about being present to teach my little girl to skip rocks at the beach, to know her friend’s names, to make her breakfast, to see her grow and become a woman, to walk her down the aisle, to one day hold my grandchild’s hand in mine if I’m so blessed
  • I care about people around the world who can’t afford food or medicine or shelter, while I sit writing this from the patio of my two bedroom apartment in NYC, largely a beneficiary of the lucky sperm club
  • I care about ducking out of the way at the last minute to avoid the beach ball my wife just whipped at my head as I sit here writing this at 6am on a Monday morning
  • I care that my parents, my family and friends are healthy, happy, confident and loved.
  • I care about lying on an old wicker couch, daughter drifting off in my lap as the sound of a summer rain obscures the deeper rhythm of Charlie Parker ethereally off in the distance.
  • I care about the process of creation and innovation that breathes life into everything I undertake
  • I care about the opportunity to have an impact on my greater community, however that evolves, that lasts longer than my time before each person
  • I care about the music, the pulse of being in every corner of my life, in every corner of the world.

These are my core metrics. These are the experiences I want to spent the greatest amount of time adding to my life. And, they evolve and grow all the time.

Followers, online friends, subscribers, readers…sure, they’re nice. But, at least for me, life’s bigger than that.

So, I’m wondering…what do you care about beyond the screen…

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99 responses

99 responses to “Lies, Damn Lies and Follower Counts. What Really Matters”

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  3. Jarkko Laine says:

    I love this post, Jonathan. That’s all I can say. I love it.

  4. Helen says:

    I care that I KEEP receiving your newsletter to REMIND ME of everything I know but sometimes forget!

  5. Jonathon,

    Great stuff! Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. Seems it doesn’t often hit me at 6 am on Monday though… usually late at night while doing something besides trying to please someone else.

    I so agree with getting our priorities straight and focus on what really matters.

    In Strength,

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      LOL – It’s actually been brewing for a long time, finally just got a chance to write the post in the early a.m.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Thank you for this very salient reminder that we all need to figure out what our list is, and then hew to it – live according to those priorities and the things that matter. I think identifying what those things are is a challenge in and of itself, and that’s the task I find myself with today. But thank you for these beautiful images and the kick in the pants to figure out what it is I want to live for.


  7. It’s daily reminders like these that make all the stress a day might bring simply fade away.

    Great post.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      So true, when you remember what’s really important, it definitely helps shift your perspective about what’s causing you stress

  8. Ken Gregg says:

    Great post. Something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.


  9. Jonathan, this is a great reminder that Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Friendfeed is not all there is in life and not to get so wrapped up in follower counts. They’re all nice to have, but when it comes right down to it, social networking should never take over our lives. Now to go kiss my hubby! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Lin, it’s funny, I actually really love the friendships I’ve grown through social media and blogging. It’s the process of figuring out what I want to strive for that always tends to bring me back to face to face life.

  10. Briana says:

    This post definitely made me take a long, deep breath. Thank you. One thing that crossed my mind as I read it ~ I think people look to you as someone who has “made it” in entrepreneurship and social media, and they might analyze why to see what they can emulate, i.e. what are you doing right, what’s your marketing strategy, etc.

    And this post makes the why so clear ~ you are simply a high quality human being with his priorities in order.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Briana, thanks for the kind words. Kinda funny, though, I so don’t look at myself as someone who’s even close to being “there.” Though, I do strive to try and adopt the outlook that wherever you are this very moment has brilliance.

  11. Excellent post! Sneaky, but excellent! I saw the link on Facebook and clicked, thinking that it had something to do with increasing those follower counts, friend counts, etc. By the time I realized you were talking about something bigger, I was already sucked in and couldn’t stop reading. I came, I tweeted, and now I will write. You’ve given me food for thought and blogging today. Once I get my thoughts together, I shall be linking back to this post from my blog.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      LOL, it’s the copywriter in me. I love crafting headlines. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Dee Wilcox says:

    Thanks for a great reminder that I need to spend less time checking stats! I like what Briana just commented about being a high-quality person. Unless you’re out there, really living, you don’t have much to say or much to write about. We can get so caught up in the virtual world that we fail to see or engage in the physical world around us. Thanks for always bringing us back to center on this!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Dee, it’s good to check stats, it’s more about “what” stats you’re checking. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Lisa says:

    My 15 year old daughter and I were just discussing this sort of thing as she was preparing to go to a retreat for Future Farmers of America. She had to fill out a questionaire and one of the items was she had to describe what defined her. At first it was hard for her, but then we talked about what excited her about her life and what was important to her. I used examples of what excited me and what was important to me. It turned out they were learned some new things about each other.

    Your article today reminded me also that I care about continuing to learn new things and I care about honing my artistic skills so that I am best able to express the flow of creativity that comes out of me.

    Great post. Some of the things we care about can not be purchased….priceless.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, it’s so easy to forget how much kids to turn to us, not our words, but deeds and willingness to get real and be human, as a tool to access their own desires, emotions, passions and aspirations

  14. Laurie says:

    I care about living from a place that pleases God. I care about my relationship with him. I care about ongoing development of my relationships with my hub, my family and my friends. I care about interacting with nature in a way that keeps me in awe of its beauty. I care about having adventures. I care about expressing myself in creative ways.

  15. Torrey says:


    I really needed to hear this because I have been thinking the same thing. I recently started a blog and it’s easy to become discouraged because of slow traffic. But I am committed to creating conversation that opens eyes and stimulates thought for my readers. Thanks

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Just keep it coming from the heart and be sure to live well outside your blog

  16. Jonathan,

    Just found your blog through Pam Slim’s book and the first two posts I’ve read have been fantastic. I love your focus on a balanced and fulfilling life that involves more than just work.

    As the father of three daughters, your perspective really resonates with me. And the picture of you with flowery sandals at the top of the blog lets me think that it is OK that my wife and daughters are gradually turning me into a woman ๐Ÿ™‚

    In response to your question, I care about running down a wooded trail with the melodic sounds of Dave Matthews Band ringing in my ears. I care that my daughters will know I love them more than anything in the world, except for their beautiful mother. I care about helping people to discover timeless wisdom and apply it in ways that brings them joy.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    David Rendall

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Dave, love it! No doubt, something major shifts when you become a dad, especially of daughters. I think a lot of dads tend to bury it, though, thinking that’s the grown-up option. Not so, gotta be real and dive into who you’re with, not what you strive to accumulate. And, yeah, the woods rock!

  17. Chas says:


    Sooo much more eloquent than my “fuck all this online bullshit, I’m taking August off!”

    So thank you for taking the time to say it so well.

  18. Thank you Jonathan. I spend many hours a day thinking about traffic, exposure etc. and that is all good BUT my first born starts Kgarten in 2 weeks. Maybe then I can spend more time thinking about increasing traffic right? right.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Even better, stop thinking about traffic, start thinking about impact.

      • Kye says:

        Now that’s a pithy, high-impact mouthful! [“Stop thinking about traffic, start thinking about impact.”) It’s very twitterable, I’ll quote it there (with attribution of course). Thanks.

  19. Susan Mazza says:

    Beautiful and inspiring! I recently asked this question: What does success feel like? I think we focus way to much on the “metrics” in business and the rest of life and not near enough on allowing ourselves to experience and celebrate the journey.

    Thanks for the vivid reminder of all the little things there are to care about.

  20. […] This post was Twitted by glennm […]

  21. Cheers, great post Jonathan.

    Whenever anyone talks about the “Big Picture” – this is is the kind of stuff that they REALLY should be referring to.

  22. Here is a post from my blog and these are the things that I try to live by on a daily basis. I think the next thing that I need to write it was I care about.

  23. Fiona Boyd says:

    Jonathan, thanks so much for this post. I really needed to read it today. I’ve been struggling with our blog and the core of what we do and being pulled by others to write in a more clinical, more practical way. The thing is that practical does not inspire me and doesn’t get me moving. How can I move others if I can’t move myself? Love your list, it is so good. My music choices would be more New Order and Nick Cave, but hey what moments of bliss have you been creating and valuing lately? Fabulous, fabulous.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Clinical and practical is often a road to slow death in the blogosphere. You can provide insane value and still be real and interesting

  24. Charlotte says:

    Fantastic post. At times recently I’ve found myself so caught up in “How many people have subscribed today?!” that I’ve forgotten the “What am I doing this for? What do I want to get out of it? What do I want my readers to get out of it?”

    Ironically (well, maybe not ironically), I’ve seen people (including myself) produce much better stuff when not constantly worried about whether xyz is going to appeal or not, and instead focus on self-expression or creating value for people.

    Thanks for the reminder. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      No doubt, when you just pour your heart onto the page, the numbers take care of themselves

  25. giulietta says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Glad you brought the fixation with getting more subscribers/followers, (and I’d add making more money). Been thinking about it a lot lately, wondering what it’s really about. Decided it’s just another manifestation of our “more-centered” society. We never seem to be satisfied where we are & that somehow things will be better at the next level. Why not enjoy this level?

    I care about making the precious moments of my life memorable to me so that when I reach the end I can look back and feel “satisfied.”

    Giulietta, Inspirational Rebel

  26. Terry Heath says:

    Perfect. Thanks for the whack on the side of the head, so to speak.

    Besides, the follower counts don’t mean anything anyway. I can’t begin to tell you how many RSS feeds I have going to some email address I’ve long forgotten. And really, I can’t follow more than a few dozen people on Twitter and tell you what they’re tweeting.

    What I really care about are the thoughts behind posts like this one.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Agreed, from a practical standpoint, #s are often waaay misleading, because they don’t reveal who’s actually listening

  27. I care about being able to be home at night with my little girl, instead of picking her up from a 24-hour daycare just before midnight. I care about being able to go to my little girl’s activities at school, instead of sending a disposable camera and a note begging the teacher to take a few photos, and staring in bittersweet wonder at the snaggletooth grin staring back at me from two lopsided, blurry photographs. I care about being able to call my mom in the middle of the day to check on her…or early morning…or mid-afternoon. I care about being able to sit with a fevered head in my lap, and not worry about how much grocery money is not being made while I’m out of work with a sick child. I care about having a car with an air-conditioner and a radio…I can do without the rest of the bells and whistles. I care about my little girl getting an education and only having to work in a greasy spoon long enough to learn to appreciate hard work and education and to develop a desire never to have to do it again. I care about people who are unfortunate, and suffer through no fault of their own, and can’t have many of the things I’m thankful for. I care about people who don’t know Jesus, and who do know Jesus and work hard to live like He would.

    I care about all these things…and many of them are being accomplished by virtue of this awesome career I have built. Being a writer opens the door for the analytical mind to explore varying degrees of thankfulness and fear and confidence and disenchantment.

  28. kylie sachs says:

    Jonathan – I don’t know you, but this post sure makes your readers feel like we know you. It’s real. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Kylie, My pleasure, been trying to be a bit more transparent here. Not always easy

  29. […] This post was Twitted by eric_andersen […]

  30. L. Simon says:

    I care about Liberty – that my daughter grows up knowing what freedom truly is, and that I leave this nation more free for her than my parents left it for me.

  31. At the end of the day.Only a few things really matter in life. You family, health , and contribution to society. Materialistic object hold no barring on human life. Its provides a great life style but it cannot provide genuine happiness.

  32. blogjunkie says:

    Hey Jonathan, I’m subscribed to your podcast and don’t visit your blog enough. This is an awesome post which came at a very appropriate time for me. Confession: I keep obsessing on my site stats and Twitter follower count.

    I want to thank you for being an inspiration. People like you, Chris Guillebeau and my pal Reese Spykerman (she pointed me in your direction btw) inspire me to say, “if you guys can do it, so can I”. Thanks and keep it up.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks, just trying to walk the walk (and sometimes even stumble the walk, lol)

  33. Yes. Thank you. Yes. I don’t think there’s anything more to add to that, because you’ve said it all (in that perfect way you always do when you get passionate about something, Jon.) Just… yes.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Thanks, James. Coming from a dad with girls, I know you get it, too!

  34. Its really good to get in touch with what’s real. I think there is just so much focus on the virtual world, that sometimes we can lose track of what’s really important.

    I think a lot of people are trying to build their online businesses, and that’s why we care about all that stuff. I think we care about all those things because of the underlying reasons you mentioned (family, personal feelings).

    Balance is key to all aspects of life. Everything in moderation, even things you’re passionate about.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      What’s funny, too, though is that I know a lot of people who’s social and experiential lives are almost entirely online. And, for certain people who are limited in local relationships and resources, that’s not a bad thing. But, even there, ya gotta remember to focus on the relationships, not the numbers

  35. Bob Bessette says:

    What a poignant piece that was. You know what I care about? I care about taking my eldest off to college for the first time next week. I wonder what life will be without her to grace us with her jokes, crazy dances, and her smile. This is probably the closest thing to taking her down the aisle as you mentioned in your post.
    You truly do care about the important things in life. I am glad I happened to click on your site’s link one day. Thanks for sharing..


    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Bob, my daughter’s only 8 and I have to confess to already dreading that day. Just trying to drink in every moment I can get. Thanks for sharing your thoughts

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  37. Russ says:


    Thank you so much for this message. So many people (myself included more times than I care to admit) focus on the ‘What’ they have to do (work), claiming they are doing it for the ‘Why’ (family and loved ones).

    How many times have I ‘worked extra’ so I could provide ‘better’ for my family at the expense of spending better time with them now? How many ‘someday honeys’ do you really think you have left when you tell your wife and kids that you just have to finish THIS project, then…?

    Guys, the work will always be there. Don’t make the mistake of making work your mistress. That’s called ‘cheating’ on your wife/significant other. Like any relationship gone sour, one day you’ll wake up to find your real love gone!

    Jesus said that we could be with Him this day (right now) in paradise. Take a good look at your ‘Why’ and realize you already are in heaven!

    When you focus on those things that truly make you happy (your ‘Why’), your happiness is multiplied. You will automatically be given more to be happy about… it’s a Universal principle. The ‘What’ will take care of itself.

    Job 22:28 says it best, “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.”

    What a promise – be happy right here, right now with what you have and more will be added unto you. You gotta Love That Feeling! ๐Ÿ™‚

    All the best from Toronto,

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Well said, Russ. Interestingly, even if you’re passionate about your work, there’s still risk in allowing it to dominate your life to the exclusion of other relationships and activities that also hold equal importance and levels of fulfillment.

  38. I care about good writing that makes me sit up, mouth agape. That makes me feel alive and ready to jump up and DO something insanely useful.
    Like your writing, Jonathan.

  39. […] Jonathan Fields has done me one better in a post called “Lies, Damn Lies and Follower Counts.ย  What Really Matters.” […]

  40. Judy says:

    I really enjoyed this post…You said it all. I blog for myself and my family. Out of my 11 children five live away and check my blog to see what’s happening at home. I’ve only just stumbled upon your blog and I’m glad I did.

  41. […] What I Care About My last post promised to write about what I care about, inspired by a Jonathan Fields blog. […]

  42. Stosh D. Walsh says:

    Fantastic stuff–found your blog through a good friend, David Rendall (the Freak Factor guy), and actually blogged along similar lines just a few days ago. Telling insight for me: expanding our definition of what constitutes “metric,” and living accordingly. You’ve put some great words to an oft-neglected truth.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, Stosh, I have more thoughts on the whole metric thing to be shared at a later date

  43. […] Lies, Damn Lies and Follower Counts. What Really Matters – by renegade Jonathan Fields. I love these kind of posts that buck the trends and get to what's really important.ย  I wrote one myself a while back, The Great Expectations Manifesto. […]

  44. Lori Enos says:

    What an amazing post and a reminder that there are more things to life than making money, hanging out online, and doing the things we’re supposed to do. One of my first posts on my blog was a challange to myself to do the things that make me happy and share the results with my readers. I haven’t quite finished doing them all, but I’m still working on it. What I’ve found is that when I challange myself to do the things that matter and make me happy, I focus time and energy on doing them. I’m working right now on making the transition from corporate drone to happy self employed person and it’s challenging. Again great post and I’ve added you to the blogs I’m following.

  45. […] do I love? By hippygirl I found this article via Deborah at Antiquity Oaks. The main point is that people should focus and write about what is […]

  46. […] Jonathan Fields – View Latest Post […]

  47. […] Tammy on August 26, 2009 Katie and Jonathan got me thinking about follower counts, subscribers, my online life and what is really […]

  48. Ruth says:

    I care about real conversations with my daughters, hearing their thoughts, feelings, fears, joys and plans.

    I care about real learning that brings joy to the heart and nourishment to the mind and soul.

    I care about listening to the wisdom of those who have walked different paths, seen the world and experienced the joy, sorrow, bliss and pain of life!

    Loved this post, Jonathan!

  49. Hey Jonothan!

    I found your blog through a post by my friend Glen (PluginID) about his 12 favourite blogs and yours was on it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ve heard about you before but never got around to visiting!

    I’m loving what I see and I just subscribed to your posts:)

    Have a great day!

  50. Dominique says:

    statics use to get to me before but now what I crave is real interaction with other people/friends and spending more time with my family. Also of interest to me is to learn from others what they have to offer .

  51. Faramarz says:

    Although it’s true that most people are obsessed with figures there are times when you need them to know if you’re actually moving in the right direction.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Totally agree about the need to quantify and measure certain metrics. The bigger challenge, though, is knowing what’s worth measuring, figuring out how to measure them, then growing the right ones

  52. I have two favourites from your great list:)

    I care that my astonishingly beautiful, kind and brilliant wife feels loved, feels safe, feels supported and free to be who she needs to be in the world

    — oh yeah, make her feel beautiful! that’s something every woman deserves!

    I care about the music, the pulse of being in every corner of my life, in every corner of the world.

    — and yeah, let it beat, bring it everywhere, feel it, hear it everywhere

  53. I love moments that:
    -remind me I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be because there is no other place I’d rather be, which is every waking moment shared with my wife

    -I realize the amazing transformation that happens in a week in our 4 month old granddaughter

    -I break down in tears because I’m so grateful to be alive, I’m so full of gratitude that it is literally gushing from my body

    -My wife and I spend SCUBA diving and witnessing and experiencing things for the first time together

    -I feel emotions, whether sadness or happiness for they remind me I’m alive

  54. Allie Herzog says:

    this is a beautiful post. thanks for sharing. you remind me of my dad who used to put a note in my lunchbag every day with 2 new things a day to be happy about. obviously i didnt wait until lunchtime to read them but grated the note as soon as i was out the door. these notes of the true things that matter still stay with me today. thanks for reminding us what is really important in life.

  55. […] Jonathan Fields writes something about true wealth… and it has nothing to do with […]

  56. […] Jonathan Fields writes something about true wealth… and it has nothing to do with […]

  57. Kilanko Seun says:

    Aside from the fact that the post is funny, which I love, I take an humble bow for your sincerity.

    This is my first visit here and I will surely be back again. Good job, bro!

  58. Susan Hyatt says:


    This post moved me to tears.

    In gratitude,

  59. Great, great post. I’ll add a few more:
    1. I care about taking the time to teach my kids to ride a two-wheeler, even when it’s painful (for them and me) to do that.
    2. I care about my kids crawling into bed with me at night, even if it means a head on my back and a foot in my side.
    3. I care about maximizing the time I get to spend with my kids, even though it’s not even close to how much time I want or deserve.

  60. […] Lies, Damn Lies and Follower Counts. What Really Matters – There’s been a lot of focus on follower counts, friend counts, subscriber counts, viewer counts and readers as of late. And, those are important metrics the from the standpoint of expanding your impact on the world…and potentially, your income. But, sometimes I wonder if we’re spending too much time on the … […]

  61. […] am not trying to say that all Feedburner/Friendfeed users have set out to deceive… and many with high follower counts have earned such through old-fashioned sweat equity.ย  […]

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