This App Lets You Request a Stalker For 24 Hours

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Mar 2 2016

Location: 

Online

Artist Lauren McCarthy wants to challenge our obsession with getting followers on social media by letting you request a real-life follower, for one day at a time.

How many followers do you have? Thanks to the increasing ubiquity of social media, your follow count has become increasingly important. Some recruiters even look at social media followings to rate prospective employees. But many of us who don't use social media for work still desire to be followed. Maybe it's just innate human desire to want some form of attention and affirmation—especially if it's in the form of heart-shaped, thumbs up notifications.

To find out why people want to be followed, artist and programmer Lauren McCarthy built Follower, an app which lets people request a real life follower for one day. To sign up, you must answer two questions: "Why you want to be followed," and "Why someone should follow you?"

The questions push you to think about your often hidden or unquestioned desire for attention: the same reasons we set our Instagram accounts to public or add a hashtag to a tweet. If chosen, McCarthy will select a random date and follow you for an entire day. At the end of the 24 hours, she sends a picture of you from the day. There is no contact and no interaction.

So do we want followers because we're insecure? Does knowing that people are watching motivate us to do more interesting things? (One applicant actually admitted to feeling guilty that she was "boring" on the day she was followed.)

Playing with the idea of sites that let people buy followers, McCarthy asks, "Could a real life follower provide something more meaningful or satisfying?" We talk to her to find out.

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