Everybody wants to be liked.

When somebody likes you, you feel acceptance. Being liked insinuates that who you are as a person is fine, that your mere existence is worthy. Suddenly when you’re liked, you’re important, even if it’s just to one person.

Working with children in Korea, I was amazed at how much significance being liked took on. All day the children would constantly ask each other who they liked, who they didn’t like. Each child would inevitably ask “Who likes me?” and their mood would be dictated by the response. More than ever, at a young age we seek that acceptance from others. We need to be liked.

The children even had a game they played. They would ask “Who likes me?” and hold out their thumb. They’d begin a count to ten. Whoever was holding their thumb at the end of the count liked them. The lower the child’s self-esteem, the more they hungered for acceptance, the more they’d play the game.

Example:

As we grow up, we start to gain more confidence in our selves and we no long crave to be liked. We still enjoy it though. It’s an affirmation that we’re doing something right, we’re good people.

These days the word “Like” has taken on a new meaning through Facebook, it no longer means that we enjoy something, but rather than we acknowledge it. The decision from Facebook all those years ago to include Likes as a feature is a genius one.

Their problem: people would post on their Facebook pages but without any way for others to show they’d read the post, the original poster would assume nobody had read it. If nobody reads what you’ve written, why bother to write at all?

Without Likes, nobody would use Facebook because everybody would feel their effort is wasted. Suddenly with this one feature, everybody has their content validated. That small Like let’s them know somebody cared to read their words and enjoys their thoughts. This positive reinforcement leads to people making more content, which leads to more dedicated users for the Facebook machine.

Much later WordPress decided to adopt Likes on their website. The reasoning was much the same. Here is a site with hundreds of thousands of users, but many of these users continually write blog posts without acknowledgement. It’s no surprise that many bloggers give up eventually because they lose their motivation. Nobody comments on their blog posts, so they must assume nobody reads them, so why bother writing them?

Bringing in the Like allowed users to easily gain acknowledgement for their work. To feel their effort was worthwhile. As with most forms of communication though, there are ways to exploit the Like.

As I’ve said, when you Like a WordPress post it acknowledges a person’s work. The person feels good and their brain starts ticking. This stranger Liked my work, they took the time out of their day to look at something I made. This person must be a saint.

Curiosity burns in the back of their mind. Who is this glorious stranger?

Fear not, because there’s a way to tell who that Liker is. Go to their blog, read it, find out who they are. Maybe even comment in gratitude. So this creates a bit of a rule:

If you like somebody’s blog content, they will often visit your website.

This is a good thing, we want to gain friends after all, want to build community. However you can easily see how this could be exploited. If you want to gain readers for your blog all you need to do is Like posts. The more posts you Like, the more readers you gain. So we have a process.

Read blog post > Like blog post > Gain new reader

But then, reading blog posts is pretty time consuming and the only reason you’re doing it for is to gain readers. So why even bother to read at all? Let’s change the process a little.

Like blog post > Gain new reader

Now you have much more time to Like posts and you can gain readers quickly.

Of course, the Like has no meaning now, you didn’t read the post, all you did was Like it. That doesn’t matter though, because the blogger doesn’t know this. The blogger still feels good, still feels acknowledged. They will still be curious, they will still come to your blog. So you Like, Like, Like. As much as you can.

What you’ve effectively created is what I call “Like Spam”. You hit the Like button so much that it’s lost all real meaning, it’s now just a button that gains your own blog readers.

However this technique is incredibly manipulative. You’re using the emotions of others in order to get them to your site. I did an experiment for a few days years ago where I did some Like spam. Every day I would Like 100 blog posts. After a few days my traffic had grown by a huge amount. I had comments coming out of my ass. My views were spiralling out of control. Then I started getting comments like this:

Riba said:

I just stopped by to say thank you for “liking” my post, “The Gap Between My Selves.” I love your little story about the title of your blog, and the strong, humorous voice coming through in your writing. Thank you! R.

The truth is. I didn’t know who this person was. I hadn’t read their post. I was gaining lots of readers, but at the same time I was selling a part of my soul. I felt awful with myself.

Although my Likes were making tons of people feel good about themselves, they were built upon dishonesty. The Like spam seemed too unethical to me. The price was too high, I was selling myself out in return for appreciation. I stopped with the Likes.

Recently I’ve started to read some blog posts again. Partly because I’ve got so much free time (unemployed) and partly because I want to connect with other bloggers with similar life experiences. I read a lot of posts tagged with “travel” and “anxiety” as those are things deeply ingrained in me. I can never bring myself to just Like a post, I want to be more honest, so I comment instead. Liking seems cheap to me now.

But do you know what I’ve noticed? Other people picked has discovered Like Spam. Using the power of Like to their advantage. Manipulating the emotions of others.

Can I judge these people without judging myself? I’m not so sure. Can I call them out on their bullshit Likes? No, because Like Spam is something impossible to prove. However if somebody likes your post almost immediately after you’ve posted it, I think it’s easy to assume they haven’t bothered to read it. If a person has liked every blog post under the sun, they wouldn’t have had the time to read them all. They must be spamming.

Is this small act of dishonesty a good price to pay for success? You gain readers, maybe even money and all you need to do in return is pretend you Liked something. For me the price is too high, I’d rather be able to look my readers in the eye.

I’m proud that a handful of you keep coming back, not because I Liked your posts, but rather because you like me.

Whenever I check my emails I am overcome with a brief sense of hope.

This is it, I think, today I’ll get the email of my dreams.

Sitting in my inbox will be a message from the CEO of some fantastic company saying “Daniel, I’ve read your blog and I’m so amazed by your talent that I’m going to pay you a million dollars for you to lazily write one blog post a month for my company. Don’t worry about the topic, just do what you like. That’s how much we value you.”

A fantasy. I check my inbox and it’s empty. Obviously. People rarely email strangers about anything. Who would want to contact another human being?! Isn’t it strange that we live in an age where we’re more connected than ever but nobody can be bothered to communicate. That would take far too much effort. Why is writing an email such hard work?

Instead, we wait. Checking our emails every 5 minutes in the hope we’ll receive something to validate ourselves. Nothing ever comes. Nothing at all these days.

There used to be a time when I’d get spam. That would keep me somewhat happy. For a few seconds I would be one step closer to that fantasy email. My computer would ding, I’d know there was something in my inbox. An email, an email! This is it. Then I’d check and it would be an advert for Amazon or a cry for help from a Nigerian prince.

Tick. Delete. Tick. Delete.

The process gave my email purpose. It became a form of game. I had to check my emails because if I didn’t the spam would build up. My email existed solely for this process of ticking and deleting.

Then something horrible happened. Google started blocking spam. In one fell swoop I no longer had to tick or delete.

Nevermind though, I still had all that legitimate spam to give me meaning. Newsletters, social network notifications and promotions. They all kept me coming back to my email. Gave me some reason to continue.

Then more recently something even worse happened. Google started automatically filtering these emails into folders for me. I never read them to begin with, I just deleted them, but now I don’t even have to do that. Out of sight, out of mind. My email has become twenty times as easy to check, but also it’s now twenty times as pointless for me to bother with it.

I’m left with nothing. My inbox is now a barren desert. Its only purpose is to mock me. “Nobody wants to email you! NOBODY!”

I’ve literally gone for weeks while travelling where I haven’t been able to check my email, then when I finally manage to do it there’s nothing there. Google has sorted and separated it so efficiently that I no longer need to exist. It’s only a matter of time before they start to reply automatically to my emails for me. Then I might as well kill myself because my life will be so automated that it will no longer matter that I’m there.

The only thing I live for now is to check my spam folder. Maybe my dream email was sent there by mistake? But no, it hasn’t been. Just emails for penis enlargement and sexy ladies.

I guess the only way to receive is to give. Send out emails and you’ll get replies. But there’s no fun in the expected. Knowing you’ll get a reply takes away half the fun. There’s no surprise in that.

Once in a blue moon somebody sends me an email after reading my blog. I get a feeling of warmth inside. For a few moments I’m important! I’m loved. My email is validated along with my life.

Yet when it comes to hit reply, I waver. Am I really going to have to spend 10 minutes of my valuable time writing an email? Who can be bothered with that? I’ve got more important things to do.

Like checking my Facebook.

Hello my lovely DasBloggers (that’s what I call my readers.)

This is just a short post to announce that my girlfriend and I have setup a new travel blog called Anxious Travelers. Yes, we both understand that there’s a thousand other travel blogs out there. However we believe we have our own unique perspective on travel. We’re both pretty anxious people who worry a lot and that provides a lot of difficulties when traveling. We want to share those difficulties and put other anxious travelers at ease.

On the website there will be the usual travel blog stuff: guides, stories, opinions and photos galore. It might not be as serious as DasBloggen is at times, sometimes more informative, other times dare I say it – fun. There will still be the same thought provoking articles with incredibly high word counts that I write on this site though.

DasBloggen has been quiet for a month or so now because I’ve been working on the new site. We have around 30 articles just waiting to be published so there’ll be plenty of new articles to read and enjoy.

If you wish to view Anxious Travelers simply click here. <<<<< That’s a link although it doesn’t look like a link. Magic.

If you want to be informed of new posts you can either sign up to our mailing list here <<< or Like our Facebook page here. <<<

If you do either of these things I will be incredibly happy and may even orgasm a little.

We will now resume our normal service.

Moments ago, I was happily clicking away on Facebook when all of a sudden this popped up in my feed.

Screenshot from 2014-06-09 15:40:13

My happiness was immediately replaced with anger. The last thing I expected to see on my Facebook was the image of young women being hanged. The image instantly caught my attention so I read the text.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

What the fuck, I thought. My anger was quickly replaced with a feeling of outrage. What a place India must be.

In a matter of seconds I had gone from being blind, to all of a sudden having my eyes opened to the true horrors of India. Obviously I clicked the link to see what I could do.

I read the first paragraph, my mouth beginning to foam with rage.

I need your help. Two young girls were hanged from a tree after being gang raped in the fields outside their home in India and a minister from the ruling party just responded by saying that rape “is a social crime … sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong.”

How could we live in a world where such gross injustices happen? Something needs to be done!

Thankfully, beside the writing was the perfect solution. A petition. I signed it feeling instantly gratified that I’d done something to prevent such horrible things from happening again. I then decided to share the link with all my Facebook friends so that we could all sign the petition together and truly help Indian women to escape from the torment of their society.

I closed the link knowing that everything would be all right in the world. I was getting hungry so I made a sandwich. Then I watched an old episode of Friends on TV. By the end of the episode I’d forgotten those Indian women even existed. But we all lived happily ever after anyway. The end.

Wait. No. Shit. That’s not what happened.

Ok, I saw the photo. Anger. Read the quote.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

Outrage. Clicked the link. Felt my rage building. I was almost over the edge, I was just about to enter my details into the petition’s text box when I had to stop for a moment. Went back to that quote one more time.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Like…you could almost say that at any one moment in India at least one woman is about to be raped, is physically being raped or has just been raped. That thought disgusts me, which is good, I wouldn’t sign a petition unless I felt strongly about it.

I’m inquisitive though. I just really love to do some maths. I wondered to myself, how many women are raped a day?

Let’s say three women an hour. Twenty-four hours in a day. Holy shit. That’s 72 women in the whole of India raped every day. Seventy-two! Fuck. Let’s sign that petition. Actually, no wait, that’s not enoough. How many women per year. Just for curiosities sake. 72 multiplied by 365 days. 26,000! Fucking hell. To put it into perspective that’s almost a whole stadium of women raped every single year in India. That’s disgusting, there’s no doubting that. That statistic is a fact and it’s a horrible one. Still, now that I’m buried in statistics I must continue.

I wonder, how many women are raped in America each year? Let me just check. Lalala.

The answer is almost 85,000. Hmmm. I’m getting confused. That’s more than India. A lot more. Actually, let’s go backwards. That’s 232 rapes every single day in America! That’s almost 10 rapes an hour. That’s a rape every 6 minutes! Chances are somebody in America, somewhere is being raped right now.

Then why is nobody saying anything about it? Where’s the petition to save American women from rape? America clearly has problems too, so why aren’t thousands of Westerners signing and sharing petitions about it? Here’s my theory – India is a developing, far away country and really it has no affect on us or our lives. Secretly, deep down inside we don’t give a shit about India. But when we’re suddenly confronted with this fact – say when we read a website detailing the horrors of India – we have to do something to prove to ourselves we do actually care.  So we sign a petition and that’s enough to make us feel like we’re doing something and that we really do care, honest!

America is too close to home though – heck, for some of us it is home. But if somebody brought the fact up to us that rape in America is just as bad, if not worse than a developing country most of us would just put our fingers in our ears and go, “Lalalala!” Not literally, of course, but we’d just shrug the information off and ignore it. Otherwise those same good morals might force us to take real action, heaven forbid we might actually have to do something!  Who the heck wants to take real action when there’s old episodes of Friends to watch on TV?

Still,I feel like doing more math. Let’s find out the percentage of women raped in each country per year.

Rapes per year divided by population of women

America – (85,000 / 161 million) x 100 = 0.052%

India – (26,000 / 600 million) x 100  = 0.0043%

So every year in America 0.052% of women are raped, where as in India it’s 0.0043%. Each percentage is pretty minuscule. So minuscule in fact that it’s hard to even care.  Once you turn all those women into numbers they cease to be women anymore. They have no names, no faces. They’re just a percentage.

We’re learning something here. If you want to use statistics to argue, don’t use a percentage. It’s too abstract. Not like

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

which is so lovely and graphic. Who is this “woman” who is being raped? You can almost picture her in your mind, almost feel her pain.

But how much can we really trust these statistics? Nobody knows how many women actually get raped in a country, these statistics are simply reported rapes. In other words, a million women could get raped in India each year, but there’s a possibility that only a small percentage of them are reported due to the systematic oppression of women in the country. Or (much less likely) less women could be raped each year because some of the reports may be false. So really we should take all statistics with a grain of salt.

The statistics aren’t used to inform or quantify the problem, but rather to create outrage. It’s so easy for us all to feel annoyed by the plight of women in India because quite frankly the majority of us know nothing about the place. We can easily imagine it to be some dusty hell.

America on the other hand, we’ve been there, we know it’s much like any other place, so it’s harder for us to believe it may also have a rape problem. Harder to create outrage.

With so little information about India at our disposable we have to base all our opinions on a sentence such as.

Every 22 minutes, a woman is raped in India.

It’s a trueish statement, but it’s sly because it’s used to create a world in our head based on our lack of knowledge and prejudices. We instantly believe India is a place much worse than it actually is.

Obviously, my issue here isn’t even connected to rape, but rather the use of statistics to influence our emotions as well as the instant gratification people get from what they believe to be charity.

I believe rape is completely wrong and if somebody gave me a button to end rape in India, I would push it. That button doesn’t exist though, yet I believe people online think of petitions (and other forms of Internet activism) in much the same way. They think you push the button and then the problem is solved.

At the time of writing 415,000 people have signed the petition and I’m sure it will easily reach the goal of 1 million. But what will have been achieved other than making thousands of non-Indians feel gratified by putting their name in a box.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This fucking guy right here, this smug self-righteous asshole thinks he’s better than us, but what does he do? Does he selflessly give blood to help AIDS sufferers? Does he donate half his earnings to orphans? Does he spend 10 hours a week helping the homeless?

No, I don’t do any of those things. I’m just as crappy as the rest of you. The difference is I know I’m crappy and have learnt to live with it. The question is: what’s your excuse? Oh, you shared a link on Facebook, I see, I guess you are a better person than I am after all. Good for you.

I’ll make sure to give you a wave while I’m in Hell and you’re in Heaven.

6820565620_aac34f2787_c

A few years ago now, not long after my birthday, I wrote a blog post that I was pretty proud of. It was entitled, “The Annual Existential Crisis (Birthday)” and was essentially how every year my birthday forces me to become introspective about my life and how I  usually don’t like the results.

In the three years since that post, I have worked 4 different jobs in 3 different countries. I have had the happiest period of my life yet really nothing about my situation has changed.

I’ve now arrived in another country and I’m looking for another job and all those horrible thoughts and feelings are swarming back to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been sitting around house-sitting for a few weeks and for the first time in a few years I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and think about…stuff. That’s the worst thing to think about.

Read More

2834306912_1efdbfbcc7_b

Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he is also himself rendered unhappy by envy. Instead of deriving pleasure from what he has, he derives pain from what others have.
– Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Envy. It takes us all at some point, usually when we’re at our weakest. Whenever I’m miserable or depressed, the sin rears it’s ugly head and poisons my mind. I have envied my friends, I have envied my family. It shames me to say it, yet it’s almost impossible to stop.

When we are children we are all envious creatures. We know little of the world or our own lives, we lack true empathy and are selfish beings. We look at the other children around us and see what they have and if we don’t have it, we want it. If another child has a new toy, we too need a new toy.

As children our envy stems somewhat from perceived injustices. Why should another child have something while we have nothing? How is that fair? Children can’t rationalise that another child getting a toy has very little to do with their own circumstances.

Growing into adulthood we don’t learn much, we are still prone to envy and jealousy and struggle with our feelings, we just find between ways to hide it from others. Read More

4592186576_a96de48909_o

The biggest annoyance of science is that the stronger it gets, the more we as people are forced to live with the truth. Our lives are meaningless and we will all eventually succumb to our own mortality.

This week in the news I read about how the ice is melting even faster in the Antarctic, a cause for some concern. Usually I don’t like to comment on current affairs on this blog because as soon as I publish the post my post will become outdated. Thankfully this news article isn’t the first time and wont be the last time I’ll read about how the whole world is fucked and we’re all going to suffer.

Right now it’s the polar ice caps melting. Next week it’ll be global warming. The following month it’ll be a super-volcano in Yellowstone erupting or possibly a giant meteor from space coming to destroy us all.

Read More

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,404 other followers