The Social Media Praise Addiction Machine



It’s NAMM Time, and here’s the stuff I think about.

We have a built-in desire for praise: from our family, friends, and co-workers in our local environment. That is how we evolved (go read some Dawkins), and it is normal and healthy. Being praised by millions of people because you took a photo of yourself in the bathroom mirror is not. It is a perversion of the mechanism; it feels good, so why not do it all the time? An addiction (debatable, but debate somewhere else), like overeating. Or compulsive masturbation.

Most “famous people” or “kind of famous people” or “the drummer of the guitarist of blah blah blah” are manufactured personas, whether by themselves or by a corporation. They set out with one goal: to get as much praise as possible. Their M.O. (MODUS OPERANDI!) is “LOOK AT ME!” — yet they have not done anything that would normally be deserving of praise. They have no above-average skills, and have not produced a valuable product unrelated to being praised. They dress up, have a striking visual appearance, and are simply “famous for being famous.” (Earning a living is mistakenly expected to be a guaranteed side-effect of this. This is what they tell their parents and other people they owe money to.)

I don’t pretend to understand “what the kids listen to” these days. I’m 40 and spend most of my time editing video to pay for my house. But I do see a lot of untalented, image-focused frauds wearing costumes around here.

Daniel J. Boorstin referred to them as “Pseudo-Celebrities.” Those excited about seeing or meeting these entities are engaged in a fantasy — much like children believing the minimum-wage worker in a Mickey Mouse costume at Disneyland is actually Mickey Mouse. Spend time with these Pseudo-Celebrities in real life and you discover they are incompetent, desperate, and in large amounts of debt. This is because: when given the choice between 1.) making a reasonable profit and 2.) renting a tourbus and going into more debt, they go for the tourbus. Better for sustaining the addiction… excuse me… “Social Media Presence.” (At least the bus company makes some cash.)

Living and doing business in The Imaginary City, I actively work to keep this bullshit in check — in the same way I watch my weight. I am guilty of falling into the trap sometimes. I fuck up and eat a burrito or post a staged selfie with Dave Mustaine. It’s embarrassing when I do it, and it’s embarrassing when my friends do it.

Social Media Companies love it. They feed the addicts. Every second you spend on Facebook, someone else is getting paid for it. Boost your post and you just paid for praise. Amazing.

Yes, Carl, but what are the real negative effects?

1.) You’re wasting time and energy trying to get Likes a.k.a. Monopoly Money.
2.) You look like an idiot, shoehorning yourself into selfies backstage with semi-nobodies.
3.) We don’t yet know how much this Praise Addiction Machine will fuck up our kids.

My solution is to focus on doing actual productive work to earn a living. Discard the rest. Avoid the posers.

Or my mantra: “Who Cares, Get A Job.”

So now, I will get back to work.

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