Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. – Psalm 12:2
Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet. – Proverbs 29:5
It started this morning when I got an email notification with a comment from my fellow blogger Manu on my latest post. It was a kind comment, and I wanted to answer it. But when I clicked on “View This Comment,” it connected me to the post and comments following … which did not include Manu’s. I asked Word Press about it and was directed to a link where I could mark her comments “Not Spam.” (Not sure how they got marked “spam” in the first place, especially not this comment, which was brand new.)
I went to the link provided, and sure enough, there was Manu’s comment …
… along with over a hundred others I hadn’t seen!
> What the —!? <
I recognized a few of the people commenting and wondered, as I had with Manu, how in the world they got spammed. I un-spammed them immediately.
There were also dozens of comments from bloggers I didn’t know, most of them months old. I was delighted to get them and at the same time horrified that I had never responded to them. No wonder they hadn’t come back!
The comments were very uplifting, saying things like:
“Good info. Lucky me I found your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I have saved as a favorite for later!”
“Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!”
“I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I really hope to view the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own website now.”
“This is the right web site for anyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I personally would want toÖHaHa). You definitely put a fresh spin on a subject which has been written about for ages. Excellent stuff, just excellent!”
“Good blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!”
“Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you, However I am having problems with your RSS. I don’t understand why I can’t join it. Is there anybody else having similar RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!”
Has anyone noticed what these comments all have in common, and what’s wrong with them (other than the fact that I’m not a “dude”)?
If you said, “They’re all generic,” BINGO! You probably caught on a little faster than I did. For a few minutes I thought I had some fans I hadn’t even known about. But as I noticed identical comments given on different posts and the fact that some of the words didn’t really fit the topic (There’s only so much that can be explained by “Maybe English isn’t their first language…”), I realized these were all commercial bloggers fishing for more followers or computer-generated comments from fake bloggers.
There are three ways scammers and con artists approach their victims: by (1) appealing to their vanity (“Help me – you’re my hero!”), (2) eliciting their compassion (“You’re my last hope. If you don’t help me, I won’t survive!”), and/or (3) taking advantage of their greed (“I’m a Nigerian prince, and if you help me during this temporary setback, you will be richly rewarded as soon as I get access to my fortune again.”).
I’ve always laughed at these scams, and yet I almost fell for a blogger’s version of #1!
So, I went from the momentary thrill of adulation to the annoyance of being approached by some faceless, generic flatterers – the kind of people the Bible clearly warns us about.
(If I want my intelligence insulted, I’ll turn on the news.)
So, now what? I remind myself that there’s only one opinion that matters, and He has called me to write, which I will do as He directs, according to the gift He has given me. Whether my following is ten people or ten thousand is irrelevant. God knows what He’s doing, I trust Him, and that’s enough for me.
Prayer: Lord, You have warned us against people who flatter. And Your Spirit in us helps us realize when words are insincere. Save us from the vanity of vanity and help us to seek only what You would have us do, in Jesus’ name, amen.