What’s a Clap Worth These Days?

Is one really better than none at all?

“close-up photo of four person's hands” by rawpixel on Unsplash

At this point, it should be no surprise that Medium as a platform is changing. You can see it on the website (or on the app, if you’re glued to your smartphone like I am).

You may have even come across a few articles written by Authors who aren’t exactly keen on the changes that have come about.

And if you’re a newbie on Medium without any base of before-and-after comparison, then just know that this platform has come a long way over the past few years.

Since I joined Medium in 2013, it has evolved quite tremendously in numerous ways, as does any digital platform — It’s evolved in its look and feel, in its technology, and most importantly, the number of active users.

Change, though uncomfortable to bear at times, is often necessary. And quite frankly, it’s just inevitable in the realm of technology these days.

Just like our smartphones that need constant system upgrades or apps that frequently release new updated versions, platforms such as Medium need makeovers as well.

However, as we know, with the good comes the bad — And not all changes necessarily affect everyone in the best way.

Sometimes, these changes only benefit those who are deemed more valuable to the network. Then, it leaves the rest of us high and dry, scavenging for whatever scraps are left.

And of course, those of us who are in the latter group need to do whatever we can to stay afloat — to keep ourselves from being overshadowed, and disappearing completely.

Ultimately, this has resulted in a few things.

An over-saturation of average writing.

And I’m not saying this is any means to offend anybody — I’m mostly positioning this about my own writing.

Although, I have also recently seen other articles surface where Writers express feeling pressured to publish anything over nothing at all just so they can stay relevant on the platform.

It’s the whole fear-of-missing-out mentality, or “FOMO”, where we don’t want to be too far away if something interesting or exciting happens.

Especially in today’s setting, it’s easy for new Writers to be forgotten or left behind. So, instead, the solution is to pump out a bunch of quick fluff pieces here and there.

Then, all of a sudden, there are thousands upon thousands of the same articles popping up, leading to an abundance of quantity, but not quality.

This over-saturation of writing also then leads to declined visibility for many Authors who actually do have good stuff to show for.

A shortage of visibility.

For me personally, I’ve found tha there is almost too much for me to read now, which has actually resulted in me reading less.

It’s like when you go to a convenience store and there are too many snack options to the point where it becomes overwhelming and you go home empty-handed.

When there are so many options, it often overshadows the things that you really wanted and it distracts you from knowing what you were even looking in the first place.

Medium aside, the internet itself is giving us too many options to distract us with.

This is how we end up spending countless hours on our phones or laptops, clicking from website to website until we ultimately forget what we’re actually doing online.

Every form of media is vying for our attention and even if we give our attention, it may not last very long.

With the position that Medium is in now, I wonder what the worth of a single clap even nets out to.

Similar to a “like” on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, what does a clap mean in the Medium world anymore?

Are people really reading our articles?

Are thousands of claps an accurate portrayal of good writing?

Have we become so accustomed to “liking” things on other platforms that we’re just clapping on autopilot now?

Maybe it’s a good thing and maybe it’s a bad thing that all of these changes have been made, but my hope is that it just doesn’t tarnish the sentiment of being a platform that builds a strong community of Writers and readers in a safe place online.

Enough platforms have been corrupted and I’m just hoping that Medium doesn’t become one of them.