Competitive Peer Pressure

Klout sent me a notice. Klout, if you don’t know, is a program that tells you how much you influence your Twitter followers. The notice warned me that I was “falling behind” some of my “peers” in the popularity numbers they make up.

Mean, but popular, girls.

I thought about this a while, wondering what they expected my reaction to be. After all, who cares about an imaginary score, based on arbitrary ideas of influence? A lot of people, I discovered. Three of my friends encouraged me to take some of the steps suggested to become more influential.There’s a nightclub in Manhattan that won’t let you in unless your score is a certain minimum number.

That baffled me. Why would I want to trade some of my privacy to gather non-existent points to pretend I am influential to my Twitter followers? I already know how popular I am on Twitter by how many people come from Twitter to read the blog by clicking on a link.

That need to be told you are popular appears on Facebook, too. There are any number of posts that give a fact, then a challenge. For example: I’m checking to see how carefully you read Facebook. Share if you read this. I know 99% of my friends won’t do it, but I hope you will.” I have no inclination to share those posts. I feel vaguely bullied by them. But not enough to share them. All they are missing is some dire threat of bad luck if you don’t comply.

FourSquare, the annoying program that posts where you are all the time (I don’t care if you are at Joe’s Gas ‘n’ Grill in Seymor, N.J) because it has made you think your friends (and Twitter followers who live in another state) care. Most likely, they do not, unless you are a new driver and the person who cares is your parent.

Of course you have many close friends on Facebook, and if one of them didn’t post, you would call them and ask if they are OK. No? What? You might not notice? Well, there goes your Klout score. And you’ll never be the Mayor of Farmville on FourSquare. I remember when I felt sorry for the people who thought their Twitter friends meant as much as real friends.  Now real isn’t enough. We’re competing with them for attention.  Me? I’m heading to the studio. I feel productive there.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who helps people with re-invention and change.