The downward spiral of digital beggars

Wed, Sep 15, 2021 2-minute read

There’s a really annoying trend on social networks, where people will post an update only to ask for more followers, or likes (or whatever the term for upping the imaginary reputation number is).

I use Twitter, so I see it daily there. Tweets are always written in a form similar to the following:

  1. I need one more follower to 1000, please, please help me out guys!

  2. Arrgh, my current number of followers is messing with my OCD! Can you do something about it, pleeeeaseeee?

  3. Monthly follower goal: +10k. Let’s do it! #hustle

By doing a quick internet search, I found there’s an existing definition of a digital beggar in the Urban Dictionary. This is the definition, written by ‘Anti Digital Beggars’:

dig·it·al beg·gar dij-i-tl beg-er

Function: noun

  1. a person who asks for free stuff, swag and even meals on the internet, usually over public social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. Usually shameless and feels he/she has a right to ask

  2. a blogger/twitter-er who demands to get invites to all the events organized around his/her area - regardless of whether he/she can make it or not

This definition was added to the Urban Dictionary in 2010. How things have changed… Ten years ago, people were digitally begging for shirts, mouse pads, and events where they could eat and drink.

Now, I can understand that. Using the internet to modernize the begging process, and make it more “21st century”. That I can make sense of. Asking for food and shelter, which was done for thousands of years, only now it’s digital.

What I can’t make sense of is begging for a like or a follow. It goes against the whole point of those indicators; it’s spam, and it’s hugely distasteful. It also feels so cheap, and totally not something worth begging for.

  1. People tend to gravitate toward good and/or interesting content. That kind of content sells itself. Share what you do, even ask your friends to help you out, but don’t beg!
  2. Building an online following without having anything to say is wasted energy. If you need to beg for more followers, it means you’re probably doing something in the wrong order.
Note: I didn't go through my entire public online history, but I've asked for retweets and/or shares on a few occasions. Privately, I did the same.

I believe there's a fine line between asking your friends to help you make something you care about more visible, and begging for likes and followers when its only purpose is embellishing the social stats.