This morning was so beautiful.
Like every other Saturday, I woke up at 7:00 AM to put on my FitFam gear and ran to Victoria Park in Hong Kong where I organize and lead HIIT outdoor workouts (for free!!!!). Small but uber energetic, our group laughed and sweat together under the rising sun, discussing places to eat breakfast only half-way through our session.
We found a Cantonese restaurant tucked away in the retail heart of Hong Kong that is Causeway Bay with a backroom that was able to accommodate our entire group. Photos were taken, orders got mixed up and loads of milk tea was drunk. It was a great morning — but that’s not what made it so special.
I walked up the staircase of my old building in the neighboring district of Wan Chai with a bottle of water in one hand, my “fitness” bag in the other, lost in my own thoughts: “I wonder how many I got today?”. I opened the door to my apartment, smiled at my hungover roommate as she struggled her way through the living room and fired up my laptop.
That’s the number of Medium claps I received for the latest story I published earlier this week — the highest number ever generated by my own writing. One. Hundred. Claps. I couldn’t believe it!! Now, I can understand how that number may mean very little to many of you experienced writers out there who, rightfully, average claps in the thousands, but I do hope you see how significant this metric can be to amateur writers like myself.
While this number can surface a variety of interpretations, I personally look at it from only one perspective: I poured my heart out to write this piece, and readers appreciated it enough to let me know about it. And that felt really freaking good!
On the opposite side of the recognition spectrum stands Facebook. You know, that once-upon-a-time massively popular social platform many of us online stalkers (I mean, users…) used to check up on regularly and now feel frustrated by following a multitude of UX/UI updates that make absolutely no sense? Yeah, that one.
After years of social networking and new app introductions, the competition for our attention has never been more fierce. We’re addicted to our feeds — let’s not forget some people make a living out of understanding what user experiences will release the most dopamine to get us hooked — and as tech companies continue to study our behaviors and interests, many of their products have lost their way.
In the end, what does “liking” a Facebook post really mean anymore?
Which of our social posts have our friends liked? A photo? An article? A text-only update? Why? What were they thinking? What was she thinking? (A question I have asked myself far too many times whenever a girl I fancied liked one of my uploads; not that it happened that often anyway… Ahhh the memories.)
These metrics have driven users and brands nuts for years as we, the end-users, struggle to make sense of their purpose. Truth be told, and generally speaking, 100 likes on Instagram mean very little anymore. 100 likes on a Facebook post — depending on what the post is, of course — don’t mean much anymore either. But 100 claps on Medium? They mean the world to amateur writers.
It’s a simple design that creates instant gratification and builds genuine connections between the author and her or his readers. A small reward for spending hours of our day(s) turning our thoughts and past experiences into sensical stories, with the hope that others will relate. Ever since its inception several years ago, Medium, in my humble opinion, hasn’t disappointed. Why is that? Let’s break it down.
Its purpose has always been to provide a user-friendly, stress-free experience. Using beautiful minimalistic designs, writers like myself can appreciate how easy the writing process is, allowing us to share our own opinions with hundreds of thousands of like-minded individuals and learn from one another. Stories are written, appreciation is shown.
It’s that simple.
It would be naive of me not to recognize Medium’s own flaws but despite its few shortcomings, I feel truly empowered, and that trumps everything else. So thank you to everyone, clappers and viewers alike, for taking the time to read my articles. Never underestimate how much your next clap can mean to whoever you’re clapping for. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference, and your contribution is genuinely loved.