Got Klout?

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. 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…


13 Responses

  1. True, difficulty ahead…but aren’t these assholes great material for satire?? Like Jon Stewart is always telling his subjects, If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have a show!


    • I bow in awe of the sea of idiocy in which we swim.

      Welcome to the den. Mind the tail.


  2. …well said…clout – the true ability to influence, is made less by antics, and petty score keeping…today’s high number is replaced by tomorrows poor turnout.

    …and then where will the number counters live, but in shallow pools wishing for oceans…


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Adam Gaffin, alundregan and Cubiclegirl, Michael Ratty. Michael Ratty said: RT @universalhub Klout? He spits on your klout […]


  4. OMG they found me! Run away, run away!


    • And. There are 7 tweets of this very post.

      Can I be your friend?


      • Only if you swear off religion.


  5. Wow! I didn’t know I a loser for following more people on Twitter then people who follow me. We are in trouble if this is future.


    • Yup, we’ll soon be sorting the whole country by Twitter/Klout loser scores and putting them into camps. Start packing for South Dakota…

      Welcome to the den. Don’t step on the chewed bones and body parts.


  6. I follow no twits and have no twit followers. My score is either infinity or zero, if you ignore the divide-by-zero issue…


  7. After reading the article (which was incredibly well reported especially in light of its mind-numbing spotlight on the inane among us) I countered the despair that came knocking on my door by asking myself the following question: how much worse is this than the social measuring among the 19th and 20th- century Americans (black and white) about who “passed” for white and who did not? Or what took place among the British/Dutch/Germans/French as to who belonged to which social class, and why. Or try to get through the rule book of what social/genetic precepts the Nazis determined would allow a Jew to live, to marry a Gentile, or what was required to qualify to be one or the other? If after reflecting on that you still think Klout is unusual, try to assess the Catholic rule book about what passes for holiness and why. Humanity has a long and distinguished history of strange and deluded fellow travelers. Doing it digitally is just form, not content.

    As far as dealing with and countering global warming, predatory politicians, economic dislocation and plain stupidity, I’m afraid it’ll have to be you, Mr. Grumpy Lion, you and the rest of us who try to keep moving ahead, bending that old curve of history toward justice and a better world.


    • Nah. I’ll be dead when the really heavy stuff hits the fan. My curve bending days are pretty much done. I’m just kicking the silly things that show up on my radar.

      It’s not that Klout is unusual, as you ably point out, it is that it is so pathetic. It is the tiniest step away from letting a computer-generated algorithm, devoid of all human input, determine our place in the world.

      I think my antepenultimate paragraph pretty much sums it up.

      Welcome to the den.


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