internet points

July 12, 2022 on Eric Bower's blog

I’ve spent the past decade chasing internet points on Reddit, Github, and Twitter. I’ve found that focusing on internet points doesn’t actually yield favorable results. I spent so much time trying to figure out what other people want to see that I’ve lost sight of what I want to see.

In the early days of reddit I used to spend hours constructing well thought out and cited posts. I wanted to get karma because it somehow validated how smart I am. Whenever I would get downvoted or receive a confrontational response, I would feel deflated. Negative responses would scare me. It got to the point where I would feel an intense amount of anxiety whenever I opened my inbox. What are they going to say about my post? Was it well received? I would obsess over the points I had accrued over time. I justified that this was a training process to figure out how to construct well written posts. To some extent I think that’s true, but the reality is my focus on internet points ultimately led to an unfavorable result. I was merely trying to please people while sacrificing my own thoughts, ambitions, or desire to express my mind.

Then along came Github. Github stars are a seductive drug. The more stars you have the more internet clout you have as a developer. The issue is compounded by the fact that popular projects open doors for you as a software developer. I’ve spent years chasing stars only to slowly realize yet again that internet points mean nothing. They say nothing about you or the project you are working on besides a popularity contest. Why do I want to be popular so badly? Why do I always fall short of these popularity contests?

Recently I’ve come to the realization that social networking sites are reinforcing this need to be popular and now that I’ve put a name to the concept I’ve been trying to recuse myself of it entirely. It’s tough because it feels like you can’t create software projects without being on Github. Sourcehut has been a great outlet for me lately. The whole philosophy behind Sourcehut is really resonating with me as I lash out against all things social networking.

Who knows, maybe this is just an ad-hoc rationalization for why my projects never seem to gain any traction.

Even if that is true, I know that focusing on internet points is counter-productive. From now on I’m only going to build projects or products that I want to use.


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