So it's like a new friend
It's related with the privacy settings. There's a setting where you can choose to make your profile visible only to people that you follow, or something like that. The same with the messages. Only the people you follow can send you a message.
You can also see on the "Featured" page in the "Friend Activity" the activity of the people you are following.
I see your profile now
No, that's not it. You see my profile because I have it public. If I had the setting on, I would have to follow you for you to be able to see my profile.
It is sort of a 'douchebag' meter. I have 188 followers, that makes me among the douchiest of the active members. The more followers you have the bigger a dickhead you can be without getting kicked out.
That's why I asked
I believe that most people do it to see a profile that is locked down. It allows them to see posts, comments, and send messages to other members.
It's mostly for the living, although the undead might haunt you.
what about the dead?
They will sing soothing songs, the lyrics go: "Ooooooh, following youuuuu, following youuuuu, Scooby-Dooooooo..."
It's like a Facebook friend list
can we be friends?