Yeah, I said it. Knock it off. Stop worrying about how many people are following you on Twitter. Forget about how many friends you have on Facebook. Quit fussing over whether someone stopped following you or decided they didn’t want to be your “friend.” They don’t know you any more than you know them. It’s nothing personal, they just stopped.

Social strategists say that every follower counts. Each person who is on that magical list is a potential lead waiting to be tapped. Honestly, that’s likely untrue. Of all the people who have friended, followed, liked, thumbs-upped, uprated, upvoted, kudos-gave or otherwise gave you two seconds of their attention, there is only a small percent which are actually in the market to buy something.

Some of the people liked that little one-liner you rattled off one day when you were feeling smug. That guy over there thought your opinion matched his own. Those three women who started following you are actually men and they are just goofing off.

In the end, follower or friend counts are much like the stock market. If you watch them daily to see whether you’re trending up or down, it will make you neurotic. Trust me, I know a thing or two about being neurotic. If you really need to keep an eye on things, do a weekly report. Look at last week’s numbers and compare them to the numbers you gathered today. Was there growth? Was there attrition? How bad was the attrition? How good was the growth?

In the end, people are slaves to their whim. What might engage them today could drive them off tomorrow. If you are seeing small wiggles in your count, consider it normal human behavior. If you see large, sweeping sinusoidal trends, maybe there’s something to gain from the behavior.

In the end, the follower or friend count is a small part of a much bigger story. When you start assembling your data, keep that in mind and don’t use that single statistic to drive your online behavior. If you can just do that, you’ll help alleviate your own stress and make the web a better place.