By Anand Ujjwal
I was literally talking to an empty room.
After high school (2013), I set to the internet because I thought that the mainstream press, schools, and colleges would never let me get my ideas out. I started a WordPress blog. I would share my content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Experience Project. I thought I would bypass the gatekeepers of information and have the last laugh. In 2014, I joined Brian Johnson’s Entheos. Experience Project and Entheos shut down down the line. In 2016, I started posting on Instagram. In 2017, I joined LinkedIn. In 2019, I joined Medium. In 2020, I started this blog. And nothing came out of any of it. No one even knows I did all this. I got little to no views across all the platforms. I was literally talking to an empty room. Now, I have finally understood why.
The Internet is not free of gatekeepers. The gatekeepers are people who write the algorithms.
The algorithms do not look for quality but for engagement. You see a post not because it is good but because it has already been liked by others. This system soon turns into a popularity contest. Since average minds like average ideas, most of what you see trending on social media has to be average. This is why Marianne Williamson has 554K followers on Instagram while Taylor Swift has 210M. In comparison to M. Williamson, T. Swift posts nothing valuable. If you are above average, social media is bound to make you sick. Since quality content is liked by quality people only, who are less in number, you are unlikely to see posts from top scientists, poets, authors, and philosophers. Their content would never rise to the top. This system is very similar to democracy. The popular choice is seldom the wisest one.
Today, I have already deleted most of my social media accounts. I still have Instagram and LinkedIn but no longer post anything. I have accepted the reality that social media will never work for me. I am not what social media algorithms are looking for. I can’t post vain comments on other people’s stupid posts. I can’t like my own posts, nor can I aggressively like other people’s comments on my posts. I can’t make small talks in dm. I don’t care to search for hastags. I am not autistic. It is very similar to accepting that I would not succeed in college as a non-liberal.
Every system is designed to produce what it does, via the means of its algorithm. The algorithm at Harvard selects and promotes talent. TED’s algorithm promotes people who have great ideas. Social media algorithms promote vain, empty, and stupid people, which is why Kim Kardashian is more famous on social media than Jordan Peterson. Social media is not designed to promote thinkers and philosophers.
In other words, if your content is getting a lot of organic exposure on social media, it might just be mediocre. On LinkedIn, I almost never see good content, because good content does not get enough engagement from average minds. Being on LinkedIn is a very draining and exhausting experience because 9/10 posts are mediocre or stupid. I feel as if the number of followers a person has on LinkedIn is inversely proportional to his intelligence. I would personally never hire a writer/proofreader/editor from LinkedIn if his/her content is getting a lot of engagement. It might be a testament to his/her mediocrity.
Where will I be heading? I am looking for gatekeepers that look for quality, not clickability or popularity.
Internet does not and can not give everyone a voice. It can definitely give everyone the illusion that they have a voice. They have only as much voice as they have in an empty room — complete freedom to say whatever they want. No one’s listening though. Now, get off the internet.
The Real Gatekeepers Of The Internet II
The gatekeeping is not done at the production stage. It is done at the exposure stage. You are free to create whatever you want to. It is just that no one will ever get to see it unless you are already famous.
On LinkedIn, my last post had 408 views, 3 likes, 1 comment, and a share. LinkedIn already deplatformed the person who had commented. 5 people engaged out of 408 (1.2% engagement).
Another post had 322 views, 5 likes, 2 shares, and 4 comments. 11 people engaged out of 322 (3.4% engagement).
My view count has been in the same range since I got on Linkedin five years ago. On one of my posts, a commenter asked why I wasn’t getting more likes.
Exposure primarily depends on how many people you have in your network. It increases with engagement. Engagement depends on the product-market mix. Critical thinkers and intelligent people are more likely to engage with me than are average minds. But LinkedIn keeps removing intelligent people, so we are left with average minds and average content. At the same time, many refrain from interacting with me because their insecure bosses may be looking.
To increase initial exposure, most people add more users. Most LinkedIn users are so socially inept that they don’t even attach a personalized note with connection requests. New connections like to be added too so they can have exposure for their content. This is why most people are likely to accept your connection requests, including famous professors and business leaders, but they will likely never respond to your messages or anything you ever post. I have previously disconnected with some users because they did not reply to my messages.
I was and still am totally incapable of doing this. It is completely autistic to gather someone’s attention only to direct it to my posts. It is like feeding on his/her time and energy. I wonder how many feel as if influencers, brands, and famous people are using them as energy sources. No wonder people feel drained on social media. I never added strangers on social media until 2019. Most people in my online circles were folks I met in real life. In 2019, I started interacting more on LinkedIn, which led me to meet new people in the comment area. I started adding more people but still was not able to add the way others do. After 5 years on LinkedIn, I still have only 800 connections. Most LinkedIn experts advise having at least 1000 or 5000 connections. Imagine having vain relationships with 5000 people. You are bound to be depressed. There is no way you can keep up with 5000 people. I can’t keep up with 800. This is why I am leaving social media.
In a nutshell, I never got started on social media, because I was unable to add strangers and use their attention as energy for my machine. I can’t take advantage of people like that. I don’t even think that people should waste time on social media. None of my profiles ever took off. I never got the initial exposure, which is needed to get initial engagement. To this day, my Instagram posts and stories get very few views.
Growing on social media without meaninglessly adding people and posting vain comments on their posts is pretty much impossible. I would rather leave social media than do things that are vain and superficial. And no, you cannot have deep meaningful connections and conversations on social media. The internet is a virtual world. Virtual means not real. Nothing on the internet is real.
©Anand Ujjwal. All rights reserved.
This article is courtesy of DrRichSwier.com, an online community of citizen journalists, academics, subject matter experts, and activists to express the principles of limited government and personal liberty to the public, to policy makers, and to political activists. Please visit DrRichSwier.com for more great content.