Twitter - why follow so few?

Critical Thinking registered @FCriticalThink in 2013 but has only been active on Twitter from August 2014. Since then, the number of followers has grown from a handful to over 750 (as at July 2016) but we only follow around 20 others which begs the question: why does Critical Thinking follow so few?

Although we receive information, research and analysis from many people around the world, Critical Thinking has limited resources with which to operate and so we have to prioritise where we spend our time and energy which, because we have to work to live, is limited. Our primary objective in using Twitter is to broadcast Critical Thinking's research and analysis: by "tweeting" Daily Pickings and responding to Tweets to put issues and events into context of our analysis of the political economy. A secondary objective is to keep our finger on the pulse of issues and events, particularly those overlooked or ignored by mainstream media. In this context, every tweet on our timeline is read although few are responded to. There just isn't time to follow many people in this way and so we have to limit the number to those with we which we can fully engage. It leads to difficult choices. We follow a diverse range of Twitter accounts and where there is duplication, in terms of the issues and events being posted, try to pare the number down to a minimum.

We don't "chase" followers; quality is sought over quantity and our followers are self-selecting. The people who currently follow @FCriticalThink represent a rich mix of diverse political, social and geographic perspectives which often conflict but what they share is a common desire to understand what's happening; they are in tune with the idea that unaccountable, concentrated power is a fundamental, existential problem for humanity. That we only have a modest number of followers is not the issue; it is the quality and diversity of our Twitter audience which is most encouraging. Our objective is not to build a huge organisation under the "brand name" of Critical Thinking but to encourage people to engage in critical thinking - perfection would be millions of critical thinking groups embedded within societies around the globe. It would create and sustain momentum for a shift in human consciousness. All human activity needs to be incorporated into developing a harmonious, integrated and thriving political economy, not based on selfish gain but with the understanding that by seeking the best for everybody else, we all, individually and collectively, benefit.

Twitter itself is part of the current abusive and destructive system and is another lever of power to manipulate, divide, distract and control, as are Google, FaceBook and others but they all can be used to expose and undermine the system. However, the desire for scale is false premise. Large hierarchical organisations can be bought, misled or undermined whereas an ecology of millions of critical thinking groups will be much more resilient and resistant to attack. In the same way that free, open source software has created a powerful counter to proprietary control of technology, free, open source critical thinking groups will act as an antidote to Structural Elite controlled academia and media.

Critical thinking needs to operate on a human scale, ie. in groups small enough to form strong social bonds, to collaborate and co-create an alternative political economy. Frederic Laloux has demonstrated, through case studies, how large complex tasks can be best accomplished in small, self-managing groups, as part of a larger complex ecology across which there are common principles but diverse approaches and strategies, appropriate to local or specific circumstances. This is how a new political economy should operate - on the basis of consent rather than consensus.

Critical Thinking at the Free University is primarily focused on developing our research and analysis, incorporating contributions from many individuals and groups, while communicating these ideas through personal contact. We like to join in events and meetings to share our analysis while learning from others. The weekly Sessions ensure continuity in what we do but Critical Thinkers are active in many other diverse groups and conversations. We also communicate via Daily Pickings, which is sent by email to 500+ people around the world, and the website. We welcome feedback and contributions via Comments.

We also welcome wider participation either directly with the Critical Thinking group in London or simply by engaging in the practice of critical thinking within your own sphere of influence, among friends, family, colleagues and communities. So feel free to use any of the resources on in any way you choose. We neither demand nor expect attribution or credit for any of the material which, in the main, is derived from other sources. No-one can claim proprietary control over knowledge - it is created by and belongs to us all.

If you have any ideas or would like some help or encouragement to participate, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; when more people think critically, we can transition from a competitive political economy of scarcity to a co-creative world of abundance. It doesn't require huge numbers to shift human consciousness.

Please register to post comments