From what I’ve heard... Let me start over. I have a good friend, via Medium, from India, who tells me such nightmare stories all the time about the differences between how the platform works on her iPhone and her computer. I know how old this makes me sound but I use my Android almost exclusively as a phone! It seems every time I touch it the thing does something I expressly ask it not to do. And I’m not a dummy. I’ve been using computers since they were created. However, clearly, what takes place via one system and the other is entirely exclusive and nothing yet has been created as an equitable interface. Nor has anyone gone public to discuss the matter fully.
So I work via the computer alone. If you have problems, I can tell you the Medium Help staff, although overwhelmed at times, are extremely helpful and pleasant. They are easy to contact and filled with advice.
As to followers... Yes, most of them follow you for the singular purpose of having you follow them, especially now that the follow count is so important to the MPP. Of my 5-600 followers perhaps 20-30 read my work on a regular basis. And note how few people I choose to follow.
However, most certainly, you will be able to find a small fraction of people in that number who are genuine “friends” along the way. There is a simple path to follow (no pun intended) in searching them out. If you choose to follow someone or they choose to follow you, simply begin reading their work. If that work interests you in any way, begin commenting on it in positive, constructive ways. If they respond in positive constructive ways, and particularly if they then begin reading YOUR work, and begin responding to that in positive, constructive ways... Well, now you have the beginnings of a genuine “community,” and that’s what you are after.
When that happens, look to see who that person follows and start reading the work of those people. Just continue to follow that same pattern. Some will respond to you and others won’t. It’s like making friends anywhere. Some things click and some not.
Something else to do: publish in publications where you might automatically find an existing community. Some publications have well-knit “clubby” atmospheres, others not; some take to newcomers, others not. But, again, if you read the work others publish you’ll find out if they read yours.