Social media has a fraught relationship with neurosis. Obsessive people are essential to sites like Facebook and Twitter. They add energy and buzz. Their identities get tied up with their avatars, and that in itself makes the sites seem important.
But obsessives are dangerous.
Do I really want to check Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus if all I see are the same thoughts, infinitely recycling, through the same minds?
Social media also has a fraught relationship with competition.
Twitter does everything it can to make users obsess about follower count: every time you click on someone’s name, you see how many people follow them, and, for better or worse, you develop some notion of their worth.
Google Plus shows its heart—or perhaps its lack of a brain—by concealing the number somewhat. LinkedIn’s solution is kind. It prominently displays the number of connections you have, until you reach five hundred.
The newest social media tool to grapple with this is Klout, a service for measuring your influence on all of these social networks.
Klout grades users on a scale of one to a hundred based on some proprietary algorithm that counts how often your comments are retweeted, liked, or shared.
Don’t ever go on vacation.
The numbers are also obviously important to employers, marketers, and socialites.
Klout is designed in a way that makes it likely to fuel both unhealthy obsession and unhappy competition.
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