01 October 2014

Add-ups and Follow-backs: an open letter

There's nothing wrong with wanting attention, getting people to listen to you, have a discussion, seek feedback and criticism, or anything else along those lines. We're individuals, but we're not individuals in a vacuum. Interaction is how we grow as people, our encounters and experiences shaping us for better or worse.
I don't begrudge anybody for their efforts in these endeavors. I'm no better on a lot of levels. However, I like to think I seek attention responsibly, treating others as individuals, taking a rational approach to earning respect, trading value for value, and only dispensing charity and favors on my terms.
What I do take issue with, what absolutely torques me rusted beyond a mere pet peeve are the people who think they're being fair about seeking attention, but could not be more vapid and hollow about the whole thing.
I'm going to describe a profile for you, and I want you to guess what kind of person I'm describing.
The profile picture is of Ted from the Seth MacFarlane comedy. The username is simply: I FOLLOW BACK 100%.
Popular image people can identify right away. Check.
Complete absence of a real identity. Check.
Transparent statement of agenda. Check.
On YouTube, this was called "Sub4sub" and it's essentially a form of spam. If you suddenly find yourself outraged by that statement and/or readying a defense of the tactic, then congratulations are in order because you have been successfully identified as part of the problem.
You're an even bigger part of the problem if you go so far as to leech off the success of others to push your agenda, which is nothing more than seeing a meaningless number get bigger. Over on Google+, I've come across a rash of spam comments from people simply asking for people to add them. The most recent one even set a goal of 300 by midnight, and directly asked none other than Taylor Swift herself (or at least whoever represents her on G+) to add her as she was only ten adds away from her goal.
Going to this person's page revealed little more than a handful of rather uninteresting selfies, a few complaints about living with her parents, and an assortment of trophies atop a dresser. That last detail really crystallizes the whole situation. It's so goal-oriented that it doesn't' merely marginalize the process of reaching the goal, it negates it. 
The worst part is there is simply no redeeming talent.
The last "add-up" I came across that I dared confront about their empty goal insisted that he was worth following because of all the art and videos he posted. Trouble was, it had been months since he'd posted anything of the sort and most of it was shared from elsewhere. In other words, he was desperate, in denial about being desperate, and was oblivious to his own begging strategy.
If all you can promise me in return for my adding you to a contact list is the same gesture in kind, what have either of us honestly achieved? How long do you think it will be before you're off those lists on account of you being boring and uninteresting? What happens if that number you're so strangely proud of drops?
More begging? More spam? More denial of what you're doing being either of those things?
Are you so desperate for self-validation that you don't even care why people are interested in you? Don't you want your accomplishment to mean something, something that a rational, thinking person can understand and relate to, or at least not feel completely sickened by? Don't you want to build a network and audience on something more than a token gesture with no meaning behind it?
Let's put this line of questioning in a different context, one that, at the rate you're going so far in your life, you're practically destined to encounter:
Do you want a job or do you want a handout?
Goodnight, and good luck.
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