I have been spending A LOT more time on Reddit lately. It’s got me thinking.

Maybe I’m gravitating toward Reddit because I didn’t get on it early and start following loads and loads of stuff like I did on other networks.

Maybe it’s because on Reddit, there is no social proof game to play (ok, there’s Karma, but I don’t think that really matters). On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, people want to know how many friends you have, how many people follow you…how popular you are.

It’s like high school all over again… and I don’t know about you, but I think I’m a much better version of myself than I was in high school.

The Popularity Game

As a social media professional, the draw to compete in the popularity game is always present. You are measured against your peers, like or not, by the size of their audience. The bigger the audience, the more important you must be.

But, if the world lately has shown us anything, it’s that popularity does not equate to quality.

It’s also easy to get lost in the desire for validation and for the power that social proof affords us. I’ve never turned away from the modest admiration or influence that my 30k Twitter following provides.

The House of Lies

Playing the popularity game opens you up to some unsavoriness.

Things like: following others in order to be followed. These are the same tactics the corny motivational picture squad on Instagram uses, or the Russian bot army.

As you follow more people, you feeds become more fragmented, more chaotic, more toxic.

The popularity game causes you, as I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, to do more and more for attention.

It’s putting us in a position where we must sacrifice a part of ourselves for the benefit of validation from others. We begin lying to ourselves and others.

The Reclamation

I’ve decided that what I’ve learned from my recent foray into Reddit is that I enjoy social media far more when I remove myself from the popularity game. I’ve never truly done well in my career because of how many people follow me online, but instead because of the depth of my ideas, and my ability to clearly communicate those points.

I’m about to unfollow across the board and start fresh. I miss the days of seeing my friends posts. I miss seeing comic book news. I miss the days where my feeds weren’t all politics and bad news.

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