August 15, 2018

The Saturation of Appreciation

2:28 PM

I am sitting in a cafe with 10% on my MacBook and no charger, so I might as well write another post while I'm at it. More likely is the prospect of me running out of battery in the middle of writing this and coming back to finish it later, perhaps with a completely different train of thought.

The topic I want to talk about today is social media, and how its ability to spread information far and wide has led many to take appreciation for granted. In this day and age (wow, never thought I'd actually use that phrase), it's very easy to garner a lot of attention off of a single post or image, especially on sites like Reddit or Instagram. Hundreds of posts every day on a single subreddit can receive up to ten thousands of upvotes, and even more can be seen on a popular page on Instagram. Of course, there's also Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, but it all boils down to the same concept: a lot of people seeing and approving of a piece of content.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a meme on Reddit titled "when you come back after five hours and your post only has 12 upvotes". Indeed pretty sad, since many of my posts are stuck in downvote hell as hell. It's only natural to be disappointed to see that your post did not receive much attention while a different post, which could be similar or almost virtually identical in content and effort, receives thousands and thousands of upvotes and ends up on the front page for the whole world to see and enjoy.

On this post, however, someone had commented: "Well, that's pretty good. Imagine going outside and doing something and having 12 people stop and compliment you on it". Okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch for a comparison. But the idea is clear. Twelve is a lot better than zero, and if those twelve people actually enjoyed it, maybe you're at least doing something correctly. Now, this is a very dangerous mindset to have, as false confidence is one of the greatest killers. But that's not the point of view I wanted to address.

The point is, it's very easy nowadays to see a post that has 8 or 9 likes on Facebook and dismiss the person as unpopular or the post as low-effort or not worth your time. That's because we're so used to seeing big numbers and viral videos that we forget that every upvote is an individual as well, someone that took the time to actually appreciate something. Maybe not. Maybe thousands of them are just people double tapping everything on the way down as they scroll through their Instagram feed. But I know that out of twelve, there's got to be someone who's rooting for you from millions of miles away.

Just think about that the next time your post doesn't get as popular as you hoped. Just like the one I posted a couple of hours ago. Thanks, my four supporters.

- Sam