Log in

Previous Entry

On the Cult of Compliments

The more I think about it, the less I'm in favor of the whole thing where we get excited that random strangers tell us through impersonal means that we're beautiful, smart, talented, etc.
I know it feels nice to be complimented, but doesn't this just burn up our limited reserve of social boost and leave us needing ever increasing amounts of feedback to get that same feeling? Wouldn't that ultimately cause us to feel less from the rightly earned compliments we get for actually being beautiful or demonstrating talent?
I mean, years ago, one favorite on Deviant Art would have me gushing for days. Today, regretably, it makes me feel like an abject failure. The difference though is obvious; when I started, I couldn't get any favorites. As such, getting any meant something important. Today I know that even if I do a (comparably) bad job, someone will +fav it. Some of that is superior networking, some of it is increased skill. But what it means is that the internalized value of a +fav has diminished due to it's abundance.

From that then it seems to me that if 100 strangers tell you you're amazing without an associable cause for the compliment, when you actually get around to doing something amazing, at great personal expense, the effect of that compliment will be diminished, and you will not feel rewarded for or compelled to repeat that accomplishment. You can get a similar feeling from simply doing nothing and letting people tell you that you're great for no good reason; so why bother to do hard things at all?

There's a flip side to this of course. Everyone starts somewhere, and without some postitive feedback, the odds are good that they will probably end in the same place; so there's some intrinsic merit to providing some easy compliments early in a project. But to dole them out as generic vines or tweets independent of effort... Well... I think that's a great way to actually discourage folks.