It’s very difficult to get attention online these days. Or maybe, for some people, no amount of attention is enough. Either way, I’ve noticed that some professionals in the content industry have started doing something I find very distasteful: repeating compliments that other people have (allegedly) given them.
I’m not talking about retweeting compliments, which is also distasteful but unfortunately part of the game of Twitter. I’m talking about repeating compliments, i.e. writing out a little tweet that relays something nice someone said to the user in real life, or in an email, or perhaps not at all, because they’re lying.
Wow, this young person just came up to me on the train and said my novel is their favorite book of 2021.
OMG, I was waiting in line at the DMV and someone recognized me from my many TV appearances and said my hair looks great at this length.
This is so crazy, but my high school English teacher just emailed me and said I was the best student she ever had?
You don’t have to do this. I imagine that the writers of these tweets believe that sharing wonderful things that other people think about them will endear them to even more people in the vast world we now call “the audience.” But sadly that’s not true. Think about it for one minute.
Consider a writer you like. If you read that someone complimented them on their latest Times op-ed while they were waiting for coffee in their hometown over the Thanksgiving weekend, what would you think? Basically nothing. I guess that’s nice. Good for them. Heart.
Now consider a writer you don’t like. If you read that their ex-boyfriend tracked them down at a friend’s holiday party to tell them how impressed he was by their first book, and by the way he was an idiot to dump them, what would you think? Rude thoughts.
There is really no upside to sharing a compliment about yourself. At best, the people who like you will think nothing of it and carry on with their lives as normal, or maybe think that you’re bragging a little and/or feeling a little insecure, but that’s called being human. At worst, the people who dislike you will make fun of you privately, suggest to others that you are lying about these miraculously positive encounters, and harden their hearts to you forever.
I know it’s difficult to hear, but repeating a compliment about yourself does not win anyone over. The next time someone pays you one, tell them “thank you,” and then keep it to yourself.