maybe you mis-understand , i am not complaining :)
since the takeover i dont see much has changed on that part, its a lot like medium, for instance, since about a month or more everyone suddenly knows how to teach everyone else how not to be racist, including the secret handshake and the five magic words (and the seven words you use without knowing) and a month before no one wrote about that. In that regard steemit has always been the same and thats normal b/c people won't write 'from the hip' . They will write what is assumed to bring most rewards.
I have never played the popularity game here, not when steem was at $7 dollar and posts in the trending section could get up to an insane $4000+ dollars, its just not my thing.
What HAS changed, from whati see is, since the elders left for hive during the great steemit wars is that BEFORE you wouldnt get away with promising distribution of rewards. It would have been considered bad and you would have been wrecked down to zero by steemcleaners and the likes.
So in a way it got better as in more free, but in another it stayed just the same and thats the nature of the beast : dangle a carrot and everyone will follow. You wont get too much from the heart and you wont get too much social as people flock to high-powered accounts for the exact same reason : the chance at an upvote that's worth something.
That's just how it is :) ... since you're on the re-steem list i must have caught you somewhere lol but im not really active lately.
SO ... im not envious, you clearly put time in it and what you get is yours, im sorry if you misunderstood but as to the nature of 'social' versus 'what people wanna hear' (in the reply section just as well)
i might have a different vision after closing in on 4 years of steemit :)
(but medium is a lot worse still on that part, its really all about current fashionable topic - i even caught fake medical info during the start of the pandemic, just for the claps)
“Do not write to impress others. Authors who write to impress people have difficulty remaining true to themselves. A better path is to write what pleases you and pray that there are others like you. Your first and most important reader is you. If you write a book that pleases you, at least you know one person will like it.”
i probably wont be checking replies again for maybe a week or more so dont bother too much lol ... good luck