Judgement

Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?
  
— From the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff (a Norwegian folktale)

Do you watch your stats? I do. As much as I’d like to ‘write for myself’—something bloggers always suggest whenever I bring up the topic of blog stats—I spend too much time worrying about what others think. I look to likes as validation of my worth, or at least my writing’s worth. Page views equal popularity. So I click on that stupid stats button far too many times a day.

This isn’t as big a problem for me as it once was. Through repetition, I’ve discovered the inverse effect of a successful blog post. The more I like what I wrote, the less others will. I’ve become conditioned to accept disappointment—something that translates favorably to all areas of my life. But still, I watch those stats. Sometimes I see some funny stuff.

Over a twelve-hour period, someone viewed my About page fifteen times. And they viewed my two-year-old post The things I don’t understand about Fortnite thirteen times. Who is this?

When I first started blogging, whenever I saw odd, heavy reading statistics, I worried that the YWCA’s board president had stumbled into my blog (YWCA was my employer at the time). She might read a post about, say, alcoholism, and then email the link to the rest of the board. In this nightmare scenario, I’m the principal topic of the next Executive Committee meeting. Objectively, I recognize that 4,660,000,000 people regularly access the internet. Statistically, there’s a 0.0000002% chance that the person binge reading my blog is the board president. But I still worried.

This concern has mostly passed. After eight years of blogging and the publication of two books, anyone remotely interested in me has had ample opportunity to learn my most private thoughts and secrets. It’s all out there, one story after another. Binge away.

Regardless, I can’t erase that fear entirely. Recently, somebody ignored me. Snubbed is too strong a word, milder than that, but the inattention felt deliberate. Immediately, my thoughts went to blogging. Uh oh. Something I wrote must have raised their hackles. Much of what I write settles squarely into the progressive/liberal side of the spectrum. For a conservative, finding an angering or hurtful blog post might take all of two minutes. Then there’s the substance abuse, the mental illness, Tourette Syndrome (oh no, he’s going to start cussing). Plenty of reasons to steer clear.

Coworkers, supervisors, neighbors, family members, friends, the parents of all those kids I coach, so many opportunities for someone to make a judgement—favorable or not—about who I am. I know we all deal with potential judgement by just living our lives, but with bloggers, it’s more concrete. People aren’t sifting through rumors, here-say or even memories, in our case there’s a written record.

So who’s stalking my About page, and why? What’s the Fortnite connection? That post contains nothing controversial, and although it might be mildly funny, it’s hardly worth the attention it’s getting. At times like this, my brain goes haywire, concocting elaborate scenarios where a publisher contacts me wanting to offer me a writing gig, or (gasp) maybe even a book deal. In every case, I never find out the who or why, I’m just left with my fantasies, fears and a bunch of guesses.

Photo by Valeriy Khan on Unsplash

17 thoughts on “Judgement

  1. Here’s a theory… check your comments spam folder and see if you have spam comments connected to either of those. I’ve gotten tons of spam comments on one particular post that was a #SLS post.

    I think there may classes that use random blog posts as starting place for whatever they’re doing. It’s just a theory, but it would explain all the spam comments on a single post. It has happened several times.

    Of course it *could* all be connected to the microchip in your arm from the vaccine 😱😆

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Egads, all your worries echo mine! I had a moment the other day where panic hit and I felt compelled to shut the blog down.. Sigh. So I do the exact opposite now, I try not to look WordPress at all after posting something, and wait for enough time to pass for me to forget what I’d posted, and hopefully then, if I stumble upon stats, it won’t affect me. Avoidance behaviour at its best?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My habit/need/compulsion to poke continually at social media accounts is the worst aspect of my life. If I could break away from that, I’d be a far happier person (and I’d have way more time). I hope you’re away because you’re up early to do something and not just staring sleepy-eyed at the walls.

      Like

      • 😂 Alas, it is the latter… But I might reattempt sleep in a few…
        Social media is so strangely powerful, and I’m always a little surprised and dismayed by its ability to toy with my mood. It’s not even sentient!!

        Like

  3. I also look at my stats quite frequently, and I’m not really sure why.

    and as far as blog content, I have on a couple of occasions held back on posting a blog that I think could be misconstrued by my employer. Yesterday’s blog was a perfect example. My initial post was about a job opening we had for an accounting professor, and what the lifetime value of such a position could be. I actually published it, but then a couple of hours later I cahnged it to talk very generically about job opportunities and the importance of the hiring process. There was nothing in the original post that was proprietary, I coped the job posting off a publicly available web site, and shared general salary info from anotehr repected third party, but I still felt a bit nervous about the post.

    when I retire, all bets are off…

    and maybe it’s the kids you are coaching who are checking out your blog so they can get to know you a bit better…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty sure the senior personnel at my work read my blog sometimes, Half the company has read my first book (which we have in our collection). At times I feel I’m at a disadvantage when everyone knows so much about me. It’s a goofy hobby we’ve selected. I think those middle-schoolers would be pretty bored with my blog, even when it gets juicy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m making a (totally uneducated) guess it was someone who is trying to learn fortnight by reading up first, and then found maybe they had things in common with you. But, they are too shy to make themselves known.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If someone is trying to learn Fortnite from me, they’re a hopeless case. I’m possibly the least game-y adult you can find. The continual views of my About page have continued today. It’s a little disconcerting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I imagine it’d be another non-game-y person if that was the case. I just re-read your Fortnite post (I spelled it wrong), thought I’d try to look for a connection on the About page but it’s not visible on the Android app.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It all makes me feel so manipulated. Of course we’re *supposed* to check our stats a hundred times a day. WordPress has done a great job getting me addicted. And since I’m a paying customer, they definitely want to hold onto me. Sometimes I wonder if many of the notification I get are manufactured by the company. Like I check my stats and there’s no activity and then suddenly I get a like on an old post that the stats say no one has read today. Then I look up the person who liked my post and their account is blank. Maybe it’s all a scam. Maybe you don’t exist at all. Maybe I’m the only WordPress user!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely avoid stats. I am currently a terrible writer, mainly due to some medical issues and I am simply trying to work things out for myself. If someone reads it, great, if not, great also. Honestly I should just make mine a private journal, but I just decided to throw it out there to the public. I’ve realized social media is a nightmare and I tend to keep more to myself. This is a great post though, because I used to be a lot more like you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • First off, I think you’re a pretty good writer. For me, one of the benefits of having a public blog is it inspires me to do my best. I I was truly writing for just me, I think I’d be a lazy, sloppy writer. If people are reading (even back when it was one or two) I always tried my best and always heavily edited everything I wrote.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a few new hobbies which are taking up my time, but I sometimes look at my stats, which is ludicrous since I haven’t posted in months. My “Ghosting” post gets way more hits than anything, and is still getting hits. I have no idea why. (I’m not ghosting you, though. I just don’t get on here much.)

    Like

    • In retrospect, I can provide final numbers on my stats bump. My Fortnite piece and my About page each got about 250 hits over a three week period. They might have gotten one or two hits during a normal period. I have no idea what was going on, Angie at King Ben’s Grandma thought it might be associated to some sort of academic English assignment which is really flattering, so it’s what I intend to believe. Drop by when you can. Always love to have your company.

      Like

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