Have you been bought?
Seduced by the glitz, the glam, attracting paparazzi like steel filings to a magnet, and for some, the bouffant hairdo their personal stylist creates, many are in a full-out sprint to the top. They don’t care what they have to do to get there. Nothing is comparable to feeling adored and having screaming fans shout out, “We want more! We want more!” They sneeze and fans applaud.
Most of us, like 99.99%, will never experience this. But what if you could buy this feeling?
Would you consider buying people to like you?
I live in the Wild West. It wasn’t long ago that pioneers rolled across the prairies in covered wagons to the Front Range where I live right now. Many became sick, but with no doctors or modern medicine to cure them, they relied on the traveling salesman. Distraught and worried men and women bought miracle cures for a wide variety of ailments. When settlers discovered the medicine did nothing to heal them (some were filled with a mixture including mineral oil, turpentine and camphor), they became known as Snake Oil Salesmen.
Flash forward a hundred years and a quarter. THEY STILL EXIST! If you are on social media, you’ve seen them. I’m not sure they are actually people, but their friendly, sometimes stunning, avatars promote likes or follows for sale. BEWARE. They are Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen.
First, let me take you back in time again, this time maybe a few days, months, or years ago. Sorry about the whiplash. Back to the day when you first embarked on your quest to do whatever it is you do in the vast black universe called the Internet. You felt all alone as you posted your very first cat photo on Facebook, entrée on Instagram or tweeted, “Hey Twitter! This is my first Tweet!” Then you waited and waited for something to happen until you realized you lacked something very important. You needed followers.
Days maybe weeks later, someone liked what you posted or they followed you.
After all that waiting, you were SEEN! You danced around your kitchen singing, “You like me, you like me, you like me…” You mainlined an endorphin rush in a cool blend of happiness, popularity and pure unadulterated ego boost. This is all good! There’s nothing wrong with a natural high.
But like a junkie addicted to crack cocaine, some can never get enough.
Soon they are posting all day long, hoping for that rush of happiness, but now it takes more than a retweet or a comment on Facebook. They need more.
That’s when they see the Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen and think, “Hey! I can pay for follows or likes.”
I’m not talking about paying to promote a Tweet or your Facebook page. Promotion puts your work in front of more people with similar interests. That’s cool!
But paying for likes or follows crosses the line from innocent fun to a dark alley in London slick with wet pavers while the stench of garbage and human waste rises in the mist. A shifty-eyed politician cloaked in a black cape and bowler stuffs the pockets of a member of parliament to buy a majority. Okay. I’ve watched too many Dickens movies on PBS.
It feels dishonest.
When I see likes or follows being sold, I wonder who’s making the money? And who’s sitting in a dark room somewhere pressing buttons all day? No one has ever approached me in a dark alley to press buttons for money. Are these button pressers being held hostage somewhere? Do the Cyberspace Snake Oil Salesmen and women continue to send your site out into the universe until you get the amount of likes or follows you pay for? I have no idea.
What really makes me scratch my head is when I check out their sites. The salesmen and women of this modern snake oil never have many likes or followers themselves. Hmmm. Do they have to make some kind of quota before their Oily boss endows them with their own heavenly likes? Do they think it ‘s too expensive or is it the obvious? They know they are meaningless or it doesn’t really get you anything but spammed or worse. HACKED! I really think they don’t do either of those things, but I’m not going to find out the hard way. You try it. Let me know how it goes… runs away to hide…
I’ll be honest for you. I would love to have 100’s of thousands of likes on my Facebook page. Hell. I would love to have 100’s of thousands of WordPress followers, but they don’t sell them… yet.
What about follow and like-backs? I don’t think that’s a problem as long as they are real people. I seldom like or follow people who only spew and don’t communicate, unless they are celebs with a bouffant hairdo.
I want my likes and follows to be sincere, so when I get one I can say, “You like me! You really like me.” And then I can dance around my own kitchen.
That’s what it’s all about, right? We want to make real connections online. That way, whoever likes our stuff is legitimately satisfied with our product, our writing, or wit or witty writing about a product. More important than that, they will return for more.
Otherwise we are just like a shady, back alley politician padding someone’s pockets and the number of follows or likes is meaningless.
So will I ever buy likes? Hell no. Promote an article on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe. But when it returns from its trip around the vast Internet, I bet it smells like snake oil.
Have you experienced Snake Oil Salesmen or women? Would you buy likes or follows? Do you have an aching back from riding on a buckboard?