Traffic control

Why am I blogging? To be quite honest I didn’t actually ask myself this question when I first started out. I acted more on impulse, out of a need for an emotional outlet, a pressure valve. If nobody read my posts, no harm done. But then something strange happened…

… I did actually receive some comments, encouragement, feedback and suggestions. Often very engaging ones. Sometimes an entire conversation was conducted online, at some occasions even followed up by a more private email exchange. I suddenly had an audience. This is when a new aspect crept into my blogging, a question I had not asked myself before:

How many likes would this post get?

Likes were a new experience for me, as I have to date abstained from Facebook, Twitter and other social media because I never felt the need to put myself out there. I’m a very private person – yes, you’re free to chuckle at this, considering how much I pour my heart out on these pages- but it’s different here, as the veil of anonymity allows me to open up more than I feel I can in other situations.

Anyway, I’m digressing. So, getting likes for the first time did to me what it probably does to a lot of people every day and why they keep checking their social media accounts incessantly: It helped produce some happy hormones. Which in turn lead me to start eying my stats – the likes, the views, the referrals and my follower count, happy as a clam when it hit another round number.

And then another strange thing happened: I started doing things differently. Instead of just writing my posts, engaging with my readers and seeking out blogs that resonated with me, I began taking methodological action to improve my stats, listing my blog on newbie blogger forums, commenting on other newbie bloggers who might be just as desperate for better stats as I was, and following blogs that didn’t actually resonate with me (sheepishly hoping for a curtesy re-subscribe).

Worst of all – I’m still embarrassed to admit this and blushing in a deep purple-red as I write this – I might even have … ahem… liked a few posts without actually having read them. I just clicked the little star, cold-blooded, right from the comfort of the excerpt function in the reader. Funny thing is: it worked. I got more views, more likes, more followers. But strangely also sometimes more likes than views. Hm….

And then it hit me: Who wants these kinds of likes and followers?

I don’t. Or, at least, I don’t want to make an extra effort to generate them. Because they don’t actually mean anything if what you’re after is not numbers but readers. People who are genuinely interested in what you have to say and care about it enough to take the time to read your post from start to finish and, if you’re lucky, even leave a personal note about how they relate to it. Not a remote blind like. Or a random “Great post. Check out my blog. Here is the URL”.

I’m glad I know this about myself now. And in that regard I’m not totally upset about my little embarrassing detour into the traffic generation business. It helped me figure out why I started blogging, or more correctly, why I am doing it now:

I value the connection that blogging has the potential to create between people who, in the analog world, might never actually meet, let alone happen to discover that they are dealing with pretty much the same challenge at the same time.

I cherish the thoughtful comments that some readers leave, the comfort they provided me with in my most miserable hours, the little tips and insights about how to look at things differently, the books they recommended just when I needed them.

And I would not have made so much progress in my emotional recovery if it wasn’t for some very special bloggers I have been following from the onset, because they just spoke and continue to speak to me in a way that I can understand and relate to and learn from.

I now try to return the favor whenever I can, even though this might not be as often and regularly as I would like. But at least this time around the favor is always a genuine one, straight from the heart. Not from traffic control.

And I feel much better for it.

me

Feature image designed by dooder / Freepik

23 thoughts on “Traffic control

  1. Here in New Orleans I participate in weekly meetings of the School for Contemplative Living. One of things we were discussing today was the disconnect in digital relationships – and the lack of face-to-face engagement. I offered some pushback on this. I have been blogging for nearly a decade now – a “professional” blog and another more personal one that deals with addiction recovery and other health issues. In both settings I have had extensive (both quality and quantity) conversations with folks, some that have lasted nearly the entire length of my blogging history.

    On my professional blog I have been able to network and share with folks with similar research interests. On my personal blog, I made an intentional decision that as someone who has been sober for over 30 years, I wanted to be able to share my experience, strength, and hope for recovery with others.

    I do pay some attention to numbers, but only to the extent that it enhances my intent for engagement – not just for the sake of numbers. So, yes, there are things that one can do with keywords, titles, and so forth to enhance numbers – but I concur with you that numbers for the sake of numbers is really pretty boring.

    I enjoy the reciprocal interaction that blogging and other forms of digital communication can bring – some that have grown into more substantive friendships over time. I enjoy the process and the engagement.

    I also enjoy your writing. Best wishes,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind compliment and also for sharing your own, very impressively long-lasting experience with blogging.

      I can relate to what you say, if only now, after some wild experimentation with what I don’t like to do with my blog, as it turns out. Yes, numbers for the sheer sake of numbers tends to get really boring, at least after the first excitement wears off.

      Blogs are such a great tool for very meaningful and sometimes also healing interaction, if we use them with purpose and with care. I’m happy to read that your blogs helped you in so many ways and am sure you have a lot of insights to share after 30 years of being sober. I will make sure to read up some more on it. It sounds very worthwhile.

      Best wishes to you, too.

      Like

  2. I think just about every blogger goes through what you have described! I’ve been blogging for almost 9 years now. The biggest truth I’ve learned is that the most fulfilling part of the experience is how I feel the instant I publish the post. Likes and comments are nice, but some of the posts I felt the best about were of little interest to the rest of the world. And that’s okay, because I’m writing for me.

    That’s not to say, though, that I don’t appreciate and treasure the connections I’ve made over the years with fellow bloggers. I can’t help but feel happy and thankful that there are a handful of people scattered around the world who take time to visit my blog, just as I visit theirs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is very reassuring, thank you! I felt a bit bad about my cheating. And I’m with you on that one of the best moments is the one when you press the publish button. It’s a very satisfying mix of relief and joy, not unlike a birth, I guess. 🙂

      Like

  3. Exactly! So many bloggers are just after the numbers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes they need their numbers up in order to make money from their blogs. But at some point or another, we do need to ask ourselves why we blog. And if the main purpose of our blog is writing, then that means we are interested in readers, not followers or “likes” who haven’t actually read what we’ve written. Personally, I have decided that if something I write speaks to even one person, then that post was worth the effort!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, if you blog to make a living then this certainly has another importance. That’s why it’s so useful to ask yourself why you do it. I like your take on it. Even one true reader is worthwhile. Though, of course it’s still nice to know you reach more. 🙂

      Like

    1. Thank you, Ryan. That’s a beautiful way to put it, to keep being me. It’s the hardest part of blogs just as of life, I feel. There are so many pressures and lures to conform. It takes a conscious choice not to.

      Like

  4. It’s a funny thing. In a way the “like/follow etiquette” a cool, supportive aspect of the blogging community. However it can be a bit disingenuous at times. My favorite is when someone likes 16 posts of mine all within 15 seconds. It would take longer to load one page in that time, let alone read just 1 paragraph! It always makes me laugh, and sometimes I go back and do the same thing to them, wondering if they’ll notice it. I agree that after a while, you realize it’s meaningless, and you do what works best for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was the post that initially landed me on your site. After reading it I thought to myself, “I bet I’m one of those who….got liked but not read”! That’s a really funny and honest thing for you to admit. I can tell you really enjoy writing, and I would imagine that’s a lot of why you’re here. Either way, thanks for your likes (read or not read) on my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully, I stopped this nonsense quite a while back. And you’re right, I really enjoy writing. It has a very liberating, cleansing effect on me. That’s why I started writing. But the kind of exchange that we are having right now, about our respective father’s memories or the habit of keeping a distance from political discussions, is really what kept me at it. This honest and vulnerable getting to see each other, if we allow it, is truly changing the way I see myself and other people, even those who don’t allow being seen this way.

      Liked by 1 person

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