Last week, I made a post with a little poll. It got some views, some likes, and yet only one response (thank you to that person!). I felt my heart lurch and wondered why I was doing poorly with getting responses despite seeing the number of views/likes/visitors on my page slowly creep upward over the past month. I began to look at who had responded to me, what I was doing to get better, confirmed that my stats were headed in a positive direction –
Then I leaned back and thought to myself, “You let the stats get to you, even though you swore you wouldn’t.”
I started this blog in 2013 with a short story called Waiting for Company, and until the end of February this year I posted very intermittently. To be completely honest, I started the blog so that I’d have a place where my mom could go find the things I write. As dumb as it was, I wanted her to enjoy my hobby because she encouraged my imagination and introduced me to science fiction (marathoning Star Trek: The Original Series with her is one of my fondest memories). I wanted her to be enchanted with the things I could think up, and I wanted to have that ‘mom is proud’ feeling in return.
In January of this year, I found out with little uncertainty that she never cared.
I don’t blame her. She is a busy person who works multiple jobs to keep herself afloat. She’s too proud to accept handouts and (I recently found out) tech savvier than your average Baby Boomer when it comes to secretly discovering how you got money to her bank account. She was never going to read anything I wrote, no matter how much effort I put in, because she simply never had the time – and reading, it’s sad to say, can be considered a job if you don’t really want to do it.
It’s then that I began to take blogging more seriously. I decided that if my mother wasn’t going to read my stuff, then by golly, someone else would. I would find a random someone who would care, maybe someone I could pass braggartly notes back and forth with across the interwebs. I would find someone who cared about my hobby and, simultaneously, help them feel good about theirs.
But dopamine gets in the way of that. Instead of being true and genuine, instead of being a pretty good internet friend and fellow struggling writer, the dopamine hits become the primary goal. The internet is set up to do it, and it works. The more you post, the more you’re rewarded with likes and followers. The more you like and follow, the more you get back. It’s a barely sustainable, lonely nightmare, but one in which you can convince yourself that you’re happy.
After last week’s post, as well as a conversation I’ve had on a random comment somewhere on my blog (here’s to Tom, if he’s reading), I’ve realized that I lost sight of my original goal and the motives that I started with and that I wish to espouse. One day I will definitely post Curse of the Dragon Prince and the other stories I had available to vote for, but to use them to increase blog traffic belittles my passion and turns my readers into numbers rather than friends.
For now, I’m going to work on short stories. I may have fewer posts than if I were writing a long story, but the hope is that I will be able to focus on my writing and on other people – both in real life and (hopefully) in this rat race of social media.