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.



18 thoughts on “Competitive Peer Pressure

  1. And here we were being afraid of BIG BROTHER. now it is BIG TWITTER< BIG FACEBOOK and all the other silly things that we are SUPPOSED to be amazing on… A pox on their houses, I say! (and no, I am not a Luddite, just a bit fed the heck up!

  2. What I want to know is WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL THIS? I work full time and follow some blogs and have Facebook primarily for my huge extended family. Is all this stuff why people walk around all the time looking down at their phones? I don’t have one of the fancy phones either. I don’t want to be accessible every minute of the day except to the Alzheimers unit where my mother resides. I enjoy this blog and even bought your book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art, but I haven’t had the time to work my way all the way through it yet [although I think it is WONDERFUL!]

    My daughter and brand new grandson almost got killed a few months ago when a woman who was using her phone while she was driving didn’t even notice that she had jumped a curb and then drove right into them as they sat at a red light, taking the whole front end off my daughter’s Jeep. She never hit the brakes.

    • 1. Thanks for buying my book. I deeply appreciate every single purchase. I’ll be happy to send you a signed permission slip (mentioned in the first chapter) that you can use as a bookmark. Send your address to Quinn Creative [at] yahoo [dot] com (close up the spaces and use symbols) with your mailing address, and I’ll mail you one!

      2. People who use the phone (yes, phone) or text in the car are a danger to themselves and others. Your daughter could have been killed for stopping at a light. That’s just tragedy all the way around.

  3. Twittter? What’s Twitter? (sarcasm) That’s how important I think it is and I only use Facebook to receive pictures of my Great Granddaughter. I rarely make comments and am only ‘friends’ with my children and family. I find modern media makes people very rude while in company with others and I am annoyed when my doctor has ‘my’ appointment with her computer putting data in. Yes, I’m a dinosaur and happy to be one!!

  4. Another dinosaur here, Caroline. Strange coincidence; I’ve noticed a number of folk blogging about the downside of social media recently, myself included. That FB ‘Share’ stuff is like the electronic equivalent of those chain letters I remember being warned about as a child; the advice being always to chuck them in the nearest wastebin. Social media’s like any tool, I guess – you can either use of misuse it.

  5. Quinn, I have been reading your blog for a while. A friend I used to work with passed your details on to me. I read, I enjoy, sometimes I think, sometimes I don’t. Your blog post today helped me put some things into perspective. I have been spending so much time following Social Media in the last couple of years that I have been living a lot of my life from the computer and not actually being social! Thank you for the reminder of the importance of “real” friends.

  6. Trying to look at the history of human innovation, I think a good case could be made that one of the things humans do with almost every new method or tool is figure out how to use it to interact with one another. Computers are a great example; some of the ways computers have been used in this way are Usenet, bulletin boards, bulletin board networks (FIDOnet, if anyone recalls that), AOL, ARPAnet, email, eWorld, MySpace, Facebook, the networks you can participate in if you have an XBox or a PlayStation, and, well, you get the point.

    Another trend, and this is just about computers, is enabling more ways of communicating than solely text. Pictures, of course, and moving pictures (video, Skype, etc), but also “game-like” interactions. And things like “checkins”, which try to associate your presence with people you know. A heavily mediated channel facilitating a hardly-mediated-at-all channel (physical presence), interesting.

    I think what’s happening right now (in the sense of “this moment in history”) is excitement and imagination and participation in every conceivable combination of “new ways of communicating”.

    I sign up for almost everything I hear of, sort of as a professional activity. You won’t see my name on most of the services because I maintain a “test identity” for that stuff*. But it’s all fascinating, wiring up human behavior with all these new channels.

    *NSA blog monitors: don’t worry, it has no existence outside of online services that…no, wait, you already know that, don’t you?

    • I joined Klout out of curiosity. The immediate pressure to compete caught me by surprise. Again, this is he corporate model, and if it worked there, it will work online. Except I hope that you are right, and this is an imagination warm-up, and the best is yet to come.

  7. I don’t know how much anyone has thought through the consequences of the corporate policies of social media but its pandering to the worst side of many people’s natures as they exploit popularity for their own ends. Its a hard lesson that many teens are learning, and there are already far too many casualties to feel comfortable with what is happening. Hopefully our educators will find a way of combating the negative aspects of what is a fantastic way of communicating, if one can trim off the excess baggage that comes with it and the tragedies that result when reality and electronic reality get confused.
    I know I am a dinosaur, but I have blogs I follow and enjoy, like this one, and I enjoy the issues raised, and the debates they inspire. But bloggers can and do start to feel like old friends, though in reality we are people who share a common interest, and while we do recognize names and IDs we only know what we choose to share about ourselves. If we can keep things in proportion, the internet is a wonderful place, but until FB and Twitter calm down and stop behaving like they are organised by a bunch of kindergarten kids, I’m happy to remain in my cave and travel the virtual world at my own pace and under my own terms.

    • I must admit, I consider the people who stop by and comment as people I know. But we engage in conversations, and occasionally, debate. That’s a good thing. I feel sad when I log on to Twitter, and see someone post, “Good morning Twitterverse, did you sleep well?” I wonder how many answers they get. And whether they get none or a lot of people tell the questioner how they slept, it’s sad. I know a lot of people on Twitter and FB, but they are virtual friends, and while I enjoy chatting or commenting, I don’t mistake them for friends.

      I also think that educators can discuss the issue, but it is parents who have to explain the difference between friends and virtual acquaintances–because it is a huge difference at the teen and pre-teen level.

  8. Its very interesting, isn’t it? All sorts of human behaviours grossly exaggerated within the world of social media. And twitter, facebook, becoming tools to feed the ego, in different ways. I love their potential, and at the same time recognise something very dark in it all. The addictiveness of it. I wrote something a few weeks ago about my experience of facebook:
    This is a new world for us all to learn to be healthy and whole in

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