#79: The Everyone Wants to Help Effect
An Internet phenomenon that is a nuisance and a distraction from achieving your goals.
I observed an Internet phenomena called The Everyone Wants to Help Effect (TEWHE). It’s an invasive Internet species, with roots that can be traced to real-world relationships.
TEWHE permeates social media, particularly LinkedIn —the armpit of professional networks, where in lieu of a membership fee, users pay for strong deodorant to fend off solicitors.
TEWHE is characterized by a set of behaviors that on the surface seem innocuous. But like all manipulation tactics, those who aren’t wary will be taken advantage of —TEWHE will sidetrack you from achieving your goals.
People who display TEWHE on the Internet borrow their manipulation techniques from door-to-door salespeople and child kidnappers. They lead with a sweet offering, like a sweet “deal”, candy or cookies.
On LinkedIn, TEWHE shows up as people who vehemently spam your inbox pitching you on their company or trying to sell you software. They make a false assumption, with little to no evidence, that you have a problem, and they can heroically fix it.
Unsolicited help is a nuisance, at its best, and a distraction, at its worst. If you lean in too far, you will waste your energy, your time, and become sidetracked from your goals.
TEWHE stems from the perpetrators’ personal unmet need —to feel important and wanted—rather than an authentic desire to meet another person’s needs. The software you will be sold, or the pitch you will hear, will be boilerplate and not useful.
Twitter has a stronger spam filter than LinkedIn, so people have found novel ways to manipulate others and spread TEWHE.
TEWHE on Twitter takes the form of a Tweet that says something like this:
Hey Twitter, my company is running an experiment to better match people with jobs. Send me a DM [direct message] and I will help you!
Out of curiosity, I decided to DM these people. I was not surprised when I did not hear back —not even once.
Ploys like this one are intended to manipulate vulnerable people who are looking for work. The Tweet’s author wants to artificially boost visibility so she can gain new followers. She is trying to help no one — other than herself.
Ha! Jokes on her!
She is playing the short-term ephemeral game of chest-puffing and vanity metrics. Using followers on social media as a means to an end is the same thing as collecting friends in real-life.
It’s not an authentic relationship.
Authentic relationships require time and energy. But friend collectors are always too busy. They end up bopping around from ‘friend’ to ‘friend’, checking the interaction off their to-do list, while planning the next best thing.
John Lennon said it well:
Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
In order to achieve your goals, you need to be selective about who helps you. The Internet is full of people masquerading as helpful strangers. They are nice on the surface, luring you in with a special sweet “deal”, candy or, cookies, but underneath this veil is their own agenda.
Don’t pollute your life with friend collectors. Instead, consciously focus on nurturing quality relationships with people who actually care about your needs. When they offer their help, it’s because they actually have the knowledge, resources, and good intentions to help you reach your goals.