on numerical feedback

We're a competitive species, we're told, so there's something hard-wired about wanting to know how we're scoring. It's this innate whatever that makes the current internet thrive. Grow your followers. Attract more friends. Your every utterance needs a popularity count. Five people liked your tweet! You are encouraged to check constantly by having "notification" numbers appearing at the top of your page -- it's not neurotic and fucked-up at all to investigate those numbers further, to obsess about your stats -- it's OK, it's the libertarian, neoliberal model. It's like a game, right? Game-ification results in more customer involvement with a brand. Social media allows advertisers to rate people as they are rating themselves. Give people numbers, it's fun!

The prophets and holy people of religion (particularly Buddhism) might say this was a false premise, that the internet is not a place for a healthy, mindful existence. When you're out in the world you don't have a number pinned to your back listing your total followers. It's generally considered rude, outside of Dallas, Texas, to ask when first meeting someone, "how much money do you make?" It would be creepy to ask a stranger how many internet friends he has. Your stats aren't a fit subject for discussion yet there they are, at the top of your page, like a scarlet letter. You can't turn them off. The success of the business model and the American way of life depends on these counts, we're told by our Gods, the new Gods, the job-creators and monopolizers of Silicon Valley.