As of late, it seems the topics of Bitcoin and crypto-currency in general, have become in vogue. My social feeds are teeming with posts shouting emphatically, like a newsy on a street corner, about how now is the time to invest. It's unclear if this madness is centered on attempting to get rich quick or make considered, long-term investments, but my gut (and socials) tells me it's the prior. I'm mostly indifferent to how others decide to use their resources, and this writing isn't even about crypto in the sense of what should or shouldn't be done about it, but rather how this investment phenomenon correlates with a similar occurrence within social networking and relational investments.

Increasingly, people are making connections and building (real) relationships via digital networks. This isn't a new thing; in-fact, it is now very much the norm and mainstream. The problem that arises within many of these networks is that each user's perceived value and worth is directly linked to them through their comments, followers, likes, retweets, reposts, regrams, etc. As a result, the way these relational foundations often get built is by attempting to establish shallow commonality with someone to use as a stepping stone to get to others down the road. Friendships and connections are now frequently made through a mutual, unspoken bartering system of providing favor or opportunity as a means of attaining a more visible position or status. It should come as no surprise to realize that the way many choose to invest relationally bears a strange resemblance to how they invest with their dollars; fast and hopeful to get rich quick.

People aren't like Bitcoins, but sometimes we treat them similarly. Unable to recognize the value something (or someone) has until others start to see that worth, and we then shift our resources accordingly to attain the highest potential payout or benefit. "Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours," is sounding more and more like, "let's collaborate," these days. Perhaps this is cynicism and negativity, which I'm actively working against. However, it's also real. The scene of someone 'insignificant' accomplishing something of significance which in turn draws in the masses isn't new; it just looks different now. For instance, if you're an artist who gets featured somewhere or achieves something notable, it often brings in more inquiry than it does authentic acclaim. Although, most of us would never verbalize it, what we usually want most is to be noticed and seen and one of the best ways to garner that visibility is by knowing or being associated with those who are being noticed and recognized, or who can provide the solution to our problem. Once the spotlight shifts away from that person though, many are likely to jump ship to the next most visible vessel. Like a virus eating up host after host, feeding off their vitality, social interactions have devolved into a similar state of let me stay as a long as I can to get what I need to go and then move on.

Relationships should never be pieced together like a get rich quick scheme. People's emotions, insights, and accomplishments aren't commodities to be traded or profited from. People aren't like stock options that can increase or decrease in value. People never diminish in value, because no person's worth should ever be tied to a follower number or service they can provide but instead in the intrinsic value of being made in the image of God. Relationships established with self-serving goals in mind aren't relationships at all, but rather a type of evil currency.

It's hard to write this knowing I've traded on this black market so many times. If any is guilty of this, it's me. I've been the person who has sent a DM to a friend only to ask for a favor that only they could accomplish and then let that friendship slip back into obscurity until the next time something is needed. I've also been the person on the receiving end, who is only interacted with when I can help the requestor with a need of their own, only to be forgotten about until the next time I'm of use. Upon reflection, my sincerest relationships never originated with any preconceived idea of how they would be able to provide value later on. It's imperative that as we become increasingly digitized as a society that we don't formulate our relationships like our 401K. We need to take more time to think about why we want to be more connected and what we hope to achieve with that next friend request or by smashing that follow button.

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Writer, Photographer, Strategist

Portland, OR
By way of London, California, & Colorado