Monday, April 28, 2014

Social media and me

Photo by Jason Howie
These last few months, I have learned more than I ever wanted to about the blogosphere and how it works and how writers and can market themselves effectively. I have gotten tied up at times in trying to make some inroads in a blogger community, trying harder than I should to publicize my posts all over different blogs and linkups and social media, itching to get noticed on Twitter, where I am notoriously incompetent. I never seem to be able to tweet something clever enough. I can’t respond quickly enough to engage others' twitter conversations. I feel helpless as I write more and more and watch the page views plummet lower. Maybe I peaked in my first month blogging.

There is a kind of freedom when I realize it: you don't fit in, you have never fit in. 

Somewhere along the way I forgot the fact that part of my identity has always been in landing among the outsiders, the never-quite-home, the misfits. It has been a lonely strand of my whole life. It has also given me empathy and understanding—it has also enabled me to reflect on my identity and my place and to find my people and love them dearly.

I’m not sure why I expected to fit in among all these hip, talented, quick-quipping writers on the internet. I was never good at the captivating of crowds or the quick responses to conversation in the high school morning locker routine. As a counselor at Christian summer camp—and these were, I thought, my people—I couldn't keep up with the dining hall banter and the enthusiasm.

But it was okay, I was there for my kids, the ten kids in my cabin that week, and I loved them dearly, just as I have always loved all the other wonderful souls who stuck around long enough to give me a chance. I have always been lucky enough to find and connect with my people, and I am writing now much more for myself and my people than for the chance of making it as a writer.

I am sure the other people on the internet are lovely people. I am sure many of the people who appear to me to be getting lots of publicity and popularity, to be great at marketing themselves and networking on social media—I am sure many of them feel the same way I do. And I do value the few connections I’ve made here and there that have turned into real conversation, and mutual admiration.

Freedom comes in accepting that I’m not here for recognition. I’m not here to get a lot of re-tweets from other writers who want to be re-tweeted, too. I don’t want to write for them, I want to keep writing for me, writing for you, who click on my entries every now and again and maybe even on occasion see something you can relate to.

Here we are, you and me, and I hope we are both learning to love the place where we are right now, not the place it seems like we should be. I hope we are both learning that we can be ourselves. We don’t have to market ourselves to be loved.


  1. Well, if you're looking to circulate your blog more, just come out and say it :). Jk. but my friend Joanna works for the Mennonite Church and I'm sure would be really happy to include you in her menno blog of women voices. -Brian

  2. Thanks Brian. Maybe I wasn't entirely clear. This has been a learning process for some point as I started writing more this year, getting comments, and watching my pageview stats, I started assuming that what I wanted was to market my blog more. But I have come to the fact that this is not why I'm writing.

  3. Sorry if I seemed to be making light--I think I understood what you meant originally. I was partly in jest, but also serious about that being a good place for you to possibly contribute.

    But I would say that even if marketing isn't why you're writing, I think it's okay to say that you'd like your voice to be heard. I think at some level, all art, whether written, painted, or played, needs an audience to interact with it, in order to help give it vitality.

  4. Once upon a time, I played that game. Growing a blog, upping my pageviews monthly, constantly on fb, twitter, link-ups. I felt like my life would revolve around when link-ups went up, so I could be one of the first to link. Exhausting. I felt like every spare cranny of my life was being filled with self-promotion. I'd drop everything just to get online. I'm pretty sure life is not supposed to be lived that way.
    About six months ago, I quit that business for good, started fresh with a new blog, decided to do it on my own terms. On my new blog, I do everything wrong. I post irregularly. I do not post pictures (because I want to spend my time WRITING, not in photography and photoshop). I am not pin-worthy. I don't promote my posts on facebook, even.
    But I DO create content that I am proud of, that I love, that I am happy to have as a legacy. Even if only 10 people read it (my ten kids in the cabin, as it were). I don't care, I guess. I am writing in the way I think I am meant to write. That's what it all came down to, for me.

    For what it's worth, though, I've read everything you've posted since we "met." I love your blog.

    For me, it turned out to be better to have just a few blog friends who will read every word I write, rather than hundreds who pass by without letting a single word impact them. I'd rather make an imprint on ten, than be a flash in the pan to a thousand.

    --Beth M

  5. Thank you so much, Beth, for your kind words and your wisdom. I needed to read that today. I'm glad that you do blogging "wrong" because it comes out lovely that way.