The Blue Tick. I’ve given it a name, because it is an actual thing, with a mind of its own, and deep, mysterious power over those in its thrall. Like one of those eighties horror films, the blue tick has taken on a significance disproportionate to its actual merit, turning ballsy social media account holders into needy, insecure individuals, uncertain of their worth. I’m speaking for myself here.
I’m referring, of course, to the official badge of recognition gifted by the main social media platform gods – Instagram Idol, Twitter Tycoon, and Mark Zuckerberg, to name the three biggest – to account holders who satisfy the requirement of being relevant. I use the term relevant loosely, because some of those bestowed with this mark of ‘authority’ could not be less relevant if they tried. Unless you’re interested in sweary, mouthy women talking nonsense for the sake of an argument, or pop stars who’ve been absent from the scene for years.
When chatter on Facebook recently began to surface about the sudden more widespread availability of a blue tick, interest ranged from raised eyebrows of mild interest, to full-on hunger for its endowment. I watched, as friend after professional contact tried, and failed to achieve the verified status required to secure the little badge of esteem that is so randomly handed out by big organisations, rather like a birthday child, dishing out party bags to only his favourite friends.
Bloggers celebrated when they became part of the blue tick throng, marking their success with the immediate unfollowing of thousands of their worshippers, and the removal of their accounts from the smaller platforms to make the point. I have a blue tick now, I’m too important to be here, the clear message.
Eventually, of course, I succumbed, more to curiosity than anything else, though I confess I did harbour a secret hope that Twitter, Instagram, et.al., might deem me to be more significant than those who have gone before me to the sacrifice. I prepared well. I cast my eyes over my Twitter feed, clicking on avatars with the coveted symbol, scanning their profiles for evidence of their qualifications.
I was confident. There were hundreds of accounts similar to mine (though not as good, obviously) branded with the mark of social media respect. Accounts with thousands of followers less than mine; bios just like mine. I even read their tweets. They were tweeting about the same stuff as me. In fact, I had tweeted it before them. It was a sure thing. I filled in the form, and sat back to await my crown. It never came. Instead I got that email; the one saying I wasn’t good enough right now; it was me, not them, and they weren’t even sorry. I was left with my cold cup of smugness and no answers.
Of course, I threw it off. I know my worth. I don’t need an algorithm to tell me that I matter. Who cares if Twitter likes a Kardashian more than me? Who’s even bothered about the insincere folk who only do it for kicks and cash? I’m happy with what I do, the money I make, the actual friends I have over the hordes that might follow me on the say-so of a blue tick.
Or am I? I’m a blogger, a writer; I’m judged by what I produce online on a daily basis. Don’t I want that status? The external validation that comes from a stranger saying I’m worth paying attention to? And the biggest question of all – what on earth does it take to get a blue tick?
I’m undecided. One thing I do know though. I’m not going to beg for it again. If it comes, it comes. And once I get it, I’m damn sure I won’t have time to go and unfollow the 17,000 accounts that helped get me there. Blogging is fickle, this week’s hot shot is next year’s onlooker, and the bloggers who were once your only readers tend to take offence when you dispose of them. Getting big is hard work. Staying big is only achievable with your friends around you. Unless you’re Katie Hopkins, of course. But who wants that as the price of success..?