I’m sure you know (since I begged for votes everywhere); I was the finalist in a contest for $5000 over at Gather.com. The contest was sponsored by Boca Foods and of all the entries, 10 were chosen for a week-long voting session to determine the winner. First and foremost, I entered this contest on a whim and really didn’t think my essay was very good. It could only be 250 words and I had to edit and cut a ton out. But I wrote to the audience; I knew Boca wasn’t going to give the money to someone who needed to pay off credit card bills (which we do), or install a new hot water heater (yep, we need that, too) – the whole point was about finding “balance” in your life not using a contest to fix your financial issues; and was selected as a finalist. I did not win, nor did I ever expect to, but during the week of voting I found myself biting my tongue quite often but now that it’s over I’m going to vent a little.
First of all – until I heard about this contest from one of my favorite bloggers who sometimes writes articles for Gather I had never, ever heard of the site. After I joined and entered the contest I dug around a little and found that they think themselves the grown-up Facebook – “the premier social network for the over-30 crowd” is how they describe themselves. Basically, it’s a lot like Facebook (the old version) but it also allows you to have a personal page for posting “articles” much like if you had a blog, and allows any of the other members to read your posts (if you want). It also, apparently gives you points for your activity which you can redeem for gift cards to stores like Target and Starbucks. The site is big on “Engagement marketing” which is exactly where this contest, and dozens of other contests they host, fits in.
So, I’m selected as a finalist along with 9 others. 7 of us were new members of the site who registered for the purpose of entering the contest. Immediately the bitter and hateful comments begin. There was a lot of whining about “all these new people who are only here for the contest” and griping about other entries from long-time members not making the cut. Once one of the finalists started to pull ahead in votes people started attacking her entry and making fun of her ideas. Some starting crying foul over the voting poll used (I was one because they only allowed one vote from a location, so of my entire office of 90 people only one vote counted, but I got over it pretty quickly). After about 3 days of this I was pretty much done with Gather. I had enough of these kinds of clique relationships in middle school. Once the winner was announced (with a HUGE lead over everyone else – the girl knows how to market herself!) more cries of “the contest was rigged!” echoed through the comments. Ugh! So much for being “a social network with substance”!
I have enough to deal with in my real life to get caught up in the childish antics of a closed-off, bitter, judgmental group of people on the internet. I quit reading ParentDish a long time ago because of this kind of thing. I’m not naive enough to think that the internet is all rainbows and unicorns, but what happened to common decency and wishing others good luck and congratulating them on their success? For a group of people who belong to a social network for adults they all need to grow up already.