Each morning, shortly after getting out of bed, I open the Facebook app on my phone. It’s gradually become part of my wake-up routine and yes, that means I’m reading about my friends’ family dramas and favorite brownie recipe as I sit on the porcelain throne.
For many years I turned on talk radio first thing out of bed and caught up with the local and world news that happened or changed overnight.
Whether it was the advent of a silent Facebook news feed or the realization that talk radio was somehow raising my blood pressure to unmanageable levels each day, I gradually began to sit in silence, stuck with my own thoughts and that nagging to-do list that plays round the clock in my head. Reading Facebook quiets the constant harping of my conscience. That’s why I’ve been doing it for the past three years.
As I scroll through an endless page filled with the news and recipes and political rants and selfies of the more than 300 people who Facebook defines as friends of mine, the harping shrew in my head takes a seat and impatiently waits her turn. There’ll be plenty of time later to harangue me about the long list of failures and missed opportunities but for now I’m numbing the increasingly desperate fear and loathing of my-life-so-far with a social media app on my phone.
“Oh Look! Judy had steak for dinner last night. And whoa, what’s that about a prayer circle over there? And looky—so-and-so loves/hates the POTUS because he is so incredibly brilliant/stupid and will you look at that photo of Betty Sue before she gained 85 pounds! Boy was she cute 40 years ago. And what’s that…a Time Hop post of the same thing Mary Ellen posted last year…here let me read it again. And boy that end of the world rumor—looks like it’s coming true any minute now.”
Yep. It’s all there. Distractions galore. It’s exactly what I’ve needed for the last few years.
I am healthier and stronger and more confident these days. I’ve suspected it for a while now as the morning Facebook routine begins to make me angry and more often, bored. I’ve lost my interest in little Johnny’s ranting about his ripped-off life. First thing in the morning, anyway. Late at night it takes on a different affect and I enjoy posting photos of my grand kids and funny quips about my life. Also I make fun of people on political rants and the actual ‘news’ feeds from local news stations…don’t even get me started.
There is a similar churning in my pea brain about blogging. Why am I doing it? I’ve taken lately to reading other blogs and commenting and trying to stir up some interest in whatever it is I’m writing on my blog. And that’s the problem. What is it I’m writing? I’m blogging about blogging these days. Something seems wrong with that. Another distraction. This is not the kind of writing I want to do.
I’ve been hanging out with other bloggers online recently and there is a big movement underfoot to get more followers and more likes and more readers and more people interested in my writing. Except these new blogger friends aren’t interested in my writing. It’s just a reciprocal follow game.
Sure, I stumble around on WordPress and find tons of excellent writers and interesting blogs and I like them and sometimes they like me back. That’s pretty satisfying. But this new traffic game and the Linky parties and blog parties—I just don’t know.
Yes, getting involved with blog parties drives a little traffic to my blog. Long-term, that won’t hurt me. Short-term, it’s a little easy to get caught up in reciprocal following for the sake of followers.
I lucked into a couple of sites where there are frequent invitations to share links and articles and show off a bit. These are different from linky parties and traffic for the sake of traffic gimmicks. One of the sites features friendly critiques of other blogs and it comes across as more of a community service than a gratuitous traffic meme. These are the fun bloggers who also write personal essays and share writing tips.
A couple of my new followers are folks who write about blogging. One in particular comment-bombed my blog earlier today and congratulated me on an award meme I wrote about four years ago. Had she read the actual
article she would have known it was all a big joke. But she didn’t. So she congratulated me with the utmost sincerity and invited me to come over and visit her blog about blogging. The whole thing made my lip curl up a little. Is that a turd I smell? I’m not worried at all about her seeing this article discussing her blog habits because she doesn’t read blogs. She just orchestrates traffic.
So here’s my new deal, my new year’s resolution: I’ll give myself 30 minutes each day to peruse other bloggers who write things which don’t have anything to do with blogging. I’ll like them and follow them and comment on their brilliant writing. Then I’m signing off and doing the actual hard work of writing. That’s the only thing that keeps the obnoxious badger in my head quiet.