Yesterday’s Globe featured an article by Beth Teitell on the growing practice of measuring the influence of Twitter as a means of ranking fellow humans. Social Darwinism rears its ugly head once more, in perhaps the silliest manner imaginable. The lead said:
After Valentina Monte accepts a date, the Boston University junior quickly goes online to see how many Twitter followers her suitor has. She checks her own follower count three times a day. When she meets someone who admits to following more people than follow him, she judges. “That means you’re a loser.’’
Klout score? Learn it or, as Monte would say, be judged. Klout.com is one of a number of new status-measuring tools aimed at making social networking more like high school than it already is.
The Lion supposes that for now Ms. Monte does not lack for dates, but The Lion is the sort who would laugh in her face at the sheer absurdity of her life. In fact, if The Lion were drinking coffee at the time she mentioned Twittering and Klout and dating, she would find herself bathed in an explosion of coffee.
Can life get any shallower?
Apparently it can.
“A credit score for your reputation,’’ is how Dave Wieneke, director of digital marketing at Sokolove Law, in Boston, describes the Klout score.
Garth Holsinger, vice president of global sales and business development at the San Francisco-based Klout, sees the desperation on a daily basis. “People call and say, ‘I work in social media, and I’m going to lose my job if my score doesn’t rise.’ We get celebrity managers asking how they can get their clients’ scores higher. We get people who are literally crying because their Klout score went down.’’
And corporations, which, despite their greed and amorality, we count on to maintain some measure of sanity, are going along with this silliness.
Indeed, the Klout score has already jumped from the online world into the real one. As Advertising Age wrote in September: “Need a Reservation? That Could Depend on How Big You are on Twitter (Really).’’
Would you want to do business with a company that judges you on this most ridiculous standard?
There is some snob value, of course, but The Lion suspects that hanging out with this Shankman fellow mentioned below would shortly make a sane being long for a lengthy session of watching a Chia pet grow.
Of course, no one enjoys being kept behind the virtual velvet rope. When the corporate sponsors of a holiday party hosted by social media entrepreneur Peter Shankman invited many guests based on Klout scores, the snubbed were not happy. Shankman expected “whiners,’’ he wrote on his blog, and he did get complaints. “They’re stomping their little feet.’’ If they want to be seen as more influential, he said later, “they need to post more interesting, more engaging things.’’
Welcome to the modern age of man, where your value as a person is measured by the number of people you don’t know who for a few seconds engage your name in an ephemeral electronic space apparently populated by people with the attention span and intellect of an insane two-year-old suffering major attention deficit disorder.
These are the people who will have to deal with global warming, major economic dislocations, war, global hunger, predatory politicians, and all the rest of it.
The Lion senses some difficulty ahead…