Many years and houses ago – there was an odd looking dog living near us. She was a cross between a basset hound and a shepherd. Her name was Katie. She had short shepherd legs and a broad shouldered basset body; basset ears framed a shepherd muzzle. She was social like a basset and she seemed to have inherited the less than average intelligence of that breed too. But we soon learned that Katie only understood Chinese. Once we adapted to that, we realized that Katie was actually quite bright. Katie’s short legs, long body and broad shoulders would have caused her no end of grief if she had been a human and had to buy ready made clothing. I know that, because I am a Katie. My body measurements would be reason enough to hate shopping for clothes, but even more despicable is the world of This Size Fits Nobody and Vanity Sizing. Presumably on purpose, some manufacturers have changed the cut of their garments so that a women who wore a certain size of garment in high school, can still wear that size years later, even though she has put on 20 pounds and her hourglass figure is now more like a pear or an apple. Other manufacturers, however, tell it like it is. This means the average grandma like me will visit every women’s clothing store at four malls and will eventually find two pair of pants, one pair of shorts and three shirts – that more or less fit – and they will be either a S or M or L or 10 or 12 or 14. Then she will alter eveything, because no one makes clothing for Katie bodies, and it is too late to hire someone to make these things fit by Monday. The short and the short of it (there is no long in my short world) is that most of the numbers that were once my touchstones, really aren’t all that relevant anymore. My age, my height, even my weight, have become nonessential numbers in my life… okay, weight might be an essential number, but only if I truly want to do something to change it. If I don’t, then there is no point obsessing about it. On the internet, social media thrives on vanity. Facebook and Twitter, just to name two, offer users the opportunity to gather friends, likes and or followers. These numbers, though they might look impressive, could be meaningless statistics, which is why they are called Vanity Metrics . This was a phrase coined by author Eric Ries and it refers to measurements that look good, but don’t actually indicate how successful something or someone is. Here in the WordPress Blogging World, we have a Vanity Metric called ‘Followers’. This number should indicate how many people read our blog in the WordPress RSS feed reader. What it actually means is how many people read our feed plus how many people don’t read our feed, but hope that by clicking the ‘follow’ button, we will reciprocate – thus boosting their Vanity Metric. I have been descended upon by a hoard of Fake Followers. These are people or bots that hope I will click the link to their blog and either buy their product or (and this is the mysterious part) click their link and find an empty blog. Here are a couple of the more recent ones: I don’t look at my followers list anymore – it is that useless. There might be some legitimate followers in there, but I really don’t have the time to try to find them. For the sake of full disclosure, I now have 956 followers – and my best guess is that the vast majority of them are not actually readers. Now it is your turn – do you have a Vanity Number that makes you feel good, even though it might be just a tad unrealistic?
If a measurement matters at all, it is because it must have some conceivable effect on decisions and behavior. If we can’t identify a decision that could be affected by a proposed measurement and how it could change those decisions, then the measurement simply has no value. —Douglas W. Hubbard –
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Post 473 Updated July 2015