Yet another blog I enjoyed reading has recently been discontinued. Sadly, I've seen it happen far more than just once. Enthusiastic bloggers and Instagrammers who seem to be going great suddenly announce their farewell. The main reason they give often amounts to the fact that they don't have as many followers as they'd like, no matter how hard they try to raise their numbers. So they can't see much point in continuing to flog a dead horse. Especially when there are always others with huge followings to compare themselves to. Oh man, I so get where they're coming from, I'm writing this blog post to convince myself as well as everyone else.
Life is too short to get hung up over the sight of numerals beside our names on a screen, because they distort our thinking and make us form crazy priorities. It's all because of what they seem to signify. When we see a tally of likes beside a social media post, it's easy to invest that number with personality or character. Here's an example to show what I mean.
5000 is like a VIP or member of royalty awarding you a knighthood.
500 is like proud parents giving you a thumbs up. You're gratified, although you wish more people would jump on board.
50 is like Oliver Twist. 'Please Sir, can I have some more?'
And 5 is like an arid landscape. Those few must surely be desert animals who don't really count. They are relegated to the 'nobody' we think of when we declare, 'Nobody reads my blog.'
This is disturbing on so many levels. To start with, it's all completely arbitrary and relative, varying from one individual to another. Some celebrity would most likely consider 5000 their Oliver Twist, while it looms as my unattainable award. (Just imagine 5000 followers or likes!!) However many likes we get, it'll always be easy to find somebody with more, keeping our discontentment stoked high. Whenever we get more likes, we probably crank our 'enough' level higher too. It's so easy to distort the sight of a numeral into something that reflects our worth, and forget that it simply indicates random individuals, many of them strangers to us, making clicks that take a second. Why are we inclined to let the sight of these numbers make or break our day?
There's the old lie that the more attention we and our contributions receive from others, the more valuable we must be. No way, the world is full of hidden gems, and that's what keeps it so interesting. (See this post about books and doughnuts) Besides, if we love the content we're sharing, that's the main thing, and any other attention is just a bonus.
I think I'm happier when I remind myself to keep things in perspective. We've got to challenge ourselves, 'Am I so easily crushed just because people I barely know don't see my feed or decide not to click a button? Or am I so easily elated when they do?' Why waste all this angst when we have real people in our lives; spouses, kids, parents, siblings and friends, to spend time with and rack up actual experiences? It's time to stop diminishing our true lives, or taking genuine loved ones for granted, while we let button-clicking strangers determine our worth. Sure, it's nice to get online recognition, but honestly, if we deleted all our social media accounts, for how long would these followers and fans care? The real people who matter are the ones who would come and cry at our funerals, or at least pay their genuine respects :)
The lady who pulled the plug on her blog and social media accounts had a most understandable reason. We book bloggers put so much passion and time into maintaining them, for so little return. And what's more, we provide this service for free, and it's so disheartening to get nowhere. A giver can only give so much. Yes, I can feel and echo her pain! (And I must add, the number of comments her goodbye post received indicated that she probably had more followers than I do.)
But do you think this sort of heartfelt statement reveals our own skewed priorities to us, at least on some level? Why do we do what we do? Is it for financial return, notoriety, recognition, or just having fun? I've worked on my blog with the 'What am I getting back from others?' attitude. It makes me feel really depressed. When we say, 'I do so much for little return,' the best solution may be to change what we consider our return.
The return has to be our fascination for the things we write about. If my blog isn't based on pure enjoyment, my energy for it will sap in no time. I can't be sidetracked by thoughts about money or popularity, or I'll certainly throw in the towel. I have to keep reminding myself what provides my drive. It must be the interesting nature of my reviews, lists, reflections and discussions, and the challenge of expressing them as well as I can, because that's the only true fuel to keep me going.
You might like this related post, Why don't we leave comments on blogs? which ironically got more comments than any other single blog post I've ever written.
Have you been challenged in this area of closely watching your social media stats too?