Mind Control

Twenty-seven comments. Ninety-two likes. 3,475 followers. There are some pretty popular blogs out here. Not mine, but some of the others. Almost all of the others. I’m pissed, I’m pouting, perplexed. My fifteen-month old blog is gearing up to top one hundred followers. Sure, WordPress is littered with unattended blogs with tens of followers. But mine isn’t neglected. It gets my attention; it gets content almost every week.

Content: Not a haiku. Not a flash-fiction paragraph. Not a meme with a caption. I post a story. A long story. A layered story. Sixty stories in sixty-five weeks. Enough to fill a decent sized book. I published one of those, too. My best stories extracted from my previous blog, my Google blog, Undercrust. Arranged and edited into a memoir. But no one read that either. At least no one I didn’t know.

I’m a good writer. Probably not a great writer, but strong. Better than many. Good enough to read. I keep expecting to catch fire, to gain a following. Undercrust sat largely unread for two years. One day I came home from work to a waiting email. A magazine publisher wanted me to submit. He published three of my stories in his magazine.

Every morning, I log on to my computer hoping for a repeat.

u-tuber
U-Tuber

How many followers does it take for a blogger to make a living? Just last month, I learned that people who post content to You Tube get paid. They’re called You Tubers. That’s a profession. They get paid by page hits. My eleven-year-old son told me about this. He and his friends watch videos by professional You Tubers. Apparently, those annoying ads I’m always skipping in 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds are actually earning money for someone. Would more people read my blog if an advertisement popped up? How many page hits do I need to quit my job?

Let me tell you about the award I never got. When I first started blogging on WordPress, I was amused by all the awards. Bloggers trying to make each other feel good by nominating one another. There seem to be dozens of them. The Versatile Blogger, One Lovely Blog, Liebster. I see these awards weekly. Many of the blogs I follow have been recognized. I don’t really want an award. If I was selected, I doubt I would follow the directions to pass it on. Really, I just want to be nominated.

Not long ago, a friend asked if I thought it would be a good idea for her to start a blog. My response: “Why, don’t you have enough anxiety in your life?” The internet’s an egalitarian place. Anyone can have a soapbox, but uniformly, no one’s going to listen.

As a young adult living in DC, I frequently saw a guy around town wearing a poster-board asking “ARE YOU MIND CONTROLLED?” The rest of his placard was filled with cautionary warnings about our intrusive government. Every few weeks, I saw him standing on a street corner, aluminum foil surrounding his head, silently informing the morning commuters. On Halloween, I went to a party dressed as him. My costume was a hit; everyone knew the MIND-CONTROL guy. He was far-more successful at getting himself noticed than I am.

Blogging is the most and least rewarding hobby I can imagine. Finishing a story, happy with the result, posting it for the world to see; these are recurring sources of satisfaction and pride. But then my obsessive addiction—checking for page views, comments and likes; reviewing my statistics; counting my followers—leaves the whole experience tasting a little bit rotten.

28 thoughts on “Mind Control

  1. I think blogging is easier when you write what you want to write about without worrying too much about the person reading it and what they’ll think about it. I think that’s easier said than done, because we’re all human and care what other people think no matter how much we pretend otherwise, but I think if you write to make yourself happy and engage with other bloggers then that builds up a little community and people you reach, reach other people and so on.

    I don’t know much though so don’t quote me on that.

    Also a lot of those many likes on blogs are often from people who haven’t even read the post. And half the comments are usually from the blogger themselves. Ignore the numbers; it’s all about the words.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have every right to be perplexed and pissed. I am being completely truthful when I say that you are one of the most talented writers who I follow. As I write this comment, I’m trying to think through my other favorite blogs to come up with someone who writes better than you do, and I’m drawing a blank. Sure, there is more to blogging than exquisite writing, which is why I can truthfully say that I have many favorite blogs I follow, all favorites for different reasons. But I say all of this to explain why I think you have every reason to be perplexed. My own blog has grown a healthy amount over recent months, but when I encounter a one-month-old blog that has thousands of followers and is well on its way to being financially lucrative, I feel the same as you describe here. I love blogging. I’d be doing it even if there were zero chance of ever making some side money (or hell, an actual income) off of it. But, I do dislike that the blogosphere is not nearly the meritocracy I wish it were.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You are at least one step ahead of me; no publisher has ever contacted me and asked for my work.

    I think you and I have achieved approximately the same thing with our blogs: we have a few faithful readers who leave a kind word and click the LIKE button. It’s disappointing sometimes, and I’ve considered quitting many times, but it’s enough for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s hard not to let the numbers get you down. I, too, find myself obsessing over watching the likes and views and engagement on the site. But I try to remind myself that blogging is an outlet for me and that I’m passionate about what I write — and that’s more important than any number ever will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a well written post. I find myself worrying, sometimes, about the statistics of my blog. I guess it’s natural. I recently started my blog and have found that being active by commenting and providing feedback to other’s work has helped them out as well as me, because now they know that I exist. Being active on other bloggers’ sites opens up new ideas and new people into my blog. This is what I understood from my short period of blogging! Enjoy writing.Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes! All of this. I admit I am one of those bloggers that responded to the liebster award. I participate in linkys and blog hops. But really I am at my happiest when I write from the heart. The likes and the comments and the shares and all the “excitement” that comes (or doesn’t) with each post I publish can fill me with worry. Why can’t I get 300 likes in an instagram post? What am I doing wrong? Why don’t people like me *pouts*

    And then I sit back and remember that I started my blog as an outlet and that is what it will remain. People with read it or they won’t. Either way I will continue to write. Not for “them” but for me. Yes. Fame and money would be a bonus, and there will always be a little part of me that hopes to be discovered but until that day I will enjoy the freedom of writing because I want to.

    Great post x

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I get what you are going through! I analyzed where most of my readers come from. Unfortunately, it’s Facebook. Those readers don’t usually have WordPress accounts. They only “like” my Facebook post, so It doesn’t help my blog earn social proof. I’m glad someone somewhere read it, but having a more engaged community on WordPress sounds better.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I think all of us can relate. We all want to be noticed and appreciated. Lots of us dream to make a career of blogging full time. It can get discouraging. We’ve been blogging a couple months and I spend crazy hours on social media and marketing with not many results. Not sure what I’m doing wrong, if anything. In the end, I started blogging for myself and family/friends to follow our adventures. It’s also a creative outlet. When I look at it that way, I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do. The rest will come God willing or it won’t. I’ll be happy either way. Excellent post, you’re a great writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So I was asking a 20 year old kid I know “what are these bloggers I’ve heard of”? He offered to show me for $50 and set me up an account.
    It sat for about a month before I decided to find out what $50 bought. Seems writing a book is to much work but it is kinda fun to write about good memories and good-ol-days.
    Seems like for me I get the most fun finding articles like this one to enjoy. Thanks for making my $50 expenditure a worthwhile one!

    Like

  10. Didn’t even know about WordPress awards till I read this! Oh well. I am one of those people who are young and passionate and wants to get my blog noticed as fast as I can! Yet, here I am writing this comment with a pitiful 11 followers. Again… oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: *Not* my Nobel Prize | The Other Stuff

  12. Haha. I feel your pain. It seems the pieces I write and am convinced will do well rarely do. The pieces I’m less than thrilled with get better views and shares. I’m trying to ween myself off checking viewers. I’ve decided on alcoholism instead. It’s a much more satisfying addiction.

    Like

  13. Relax babe… It’s all in good fun. I’ve told you. You’re a Rock Star. Just accept it.

    I love this. You’re such a lovable man boy!

    Are you wondering what all this stuff means?

    It means I like you but you don’t have to like me back.

    You did exactly as you said you would.

    You got nominated(finally) and you didn’t follow the directions.

    Follow shmallow! Just do what pleases you.

    Charlie Brown!

    Liked by 1 person

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