Social Media and Blogging: The Pressure to Keep Up Is Damaging

Discussion Post

Social Media and Phone

Credit: William Iven on Unsplash

Can I make a confession?  I don’t particularly like social media.  Social media is supposed to be connecting us, allowing us to communicate with people that we would otherwise have lost touch with or people we would have never met at all.  But, in many ways, social media seems to have become nothing more than a game of comparing ourselves with others, attempting to keep up, and feeling valuable or not based on how many likes, views, and reTweets we can get.  Instead of sharing ourselves with others, it is very tempting to try to curate an image of ourselves for others to consume–an image we hope will be impressive and make us look cool or trendy.

We feel the need to post constantly, to make sure that people know that we have been going cool places, that we do have friends.  We want people to know that we have been reading and we’re reading the “right” books, whether that means the latest releases or something “deep.”  We check our stats constantly, worrying when we see a dip.  We may be tempted to copy others and to do what they do, even if it means doing something we don’t see as “us.”  Maybe, we think, if I wear clothes like that girl, I’ll get more likes.  Maybe I’m not attractive enough.  Or maybe, we think, I need to stop reading and reviewing MG books because all the views go to YA.  Suddenly, we’re losing part of ourselves in an attempt to feel like the Internet loves us.

If we were in the 90s, we would probably have a campy high school film to teach us that the “mean girls” aren’t worth impressing.  We would learn that our true friends are those who appreciate us for being us.  However, the Internet has complicated things.  We don’t see the faceless Internet as a pack of “mean girls” who really aren’t all that (because, you know, they’re mean).  Our popularity is no longer measured by whom we talk to, but by numbers.  And so maybe we don’t feel a need to fight for ourselves.  After all, how do you fight numbers?  How do you show up to the Internet in a unique but totally you dress and stun everyone with your boldness and your weird but somehow still cool because joyful dance moves?

For some of us, the fight to reclaim who we are and our joy in the things that used to matter–the books we used to read, the way we used to read–might mean withdrawing from social media altogether.  It might not be worth it to update Goodreads every day in an attempt to make sure we are “on time,” that we’ve read all the latest releases, have reviewed the too-many ARCS we requested.  It might not be worth having a Twitter account if we’re just sad to see every day that we asked questions or created polls that no one answered.  It might not be worth it to scroll through Facebook aimlessly every day, only to feel when we were done that we wasted our time and that we’re never going to be as pretty as Jenny or as cool and adventurous as Maria.

However, some of us might just need to reframe the way we look at things.  Why are we on social media?  Why are we blogging?  Numbers are nice–I won’t pretend they aren’t.  We want someone to read what we wrote.  We’d be keeping a private reading journal if we did not.  However, why do we want people to read what we wrote?  We probably didn’t start out thinking our worth was in the number of views we got.  We probably started out because we wanted to share our love and enthusiasm of books.  We wanted to talk to people.  We wanted to carve out time and space to set down our thoughts on books, rather than rushing through them too fast.

Maybe it’s time to reclaim that attitude.  What would it feel like, for just one day, to not look at the numbers?  To simply talk to and interact with others?  To be with them, instead of asking them to validate us through their likes and comments?  What might we discover if we took a break from trying to be what we think other people want us to be?

Do you feel like social media is sometimes counter-productive for your goals? Next week I’ll be sharing some specific tips to help you reclaim you social media.

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75 thoughts on “Social Media and Blogging: The Pressure to Keep Up Is Damaging

  1. readinginthewings says:

    This is so real. In the theatre/film industry, social media and the number of followers you have has become very important, to the point of affecting if you will be hired or not. It drives me crazy, and it is hard not to be overwhelmed by it sometimes, especially in an already uber competitive industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I’ve seen that some people hire you based on your influence (numbers). This is interesting to me since you can technically buy followers. How do they even know how influential you really are? Or how many of those followers are really reading your stuff and not just following for a follow back, for instance?

      Liked by 1 person

      • readinginthewings says:

        Exactly. I’ve had to turn down auditions because I didn’t fit the instagram follower requirement. I used to have my instagram private because I didn’t want people knowing my life, but now I made it public because I had to for work. Its insane.

        Like

  2. Tavleen (Travelling Through Words) says:

    Social media and blogging puts a lot of pressure sometimes. I agree with the facts that most of us started blogging the just share our love for books but now it’s so much more than that. I think what we all need to remember from time to time is why we started in the first place and what really matters to us and just focus on that. Occasional breaks are also helpful. Thanks for this post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Raven and Beez says:

    This is exactly how I feel! There was a time where I was so obsessed with the numbers on Social media. I wanted the followers, the likes, the comments! I won’t lie, it was like my life was tied to them and when I got what I asked for it would only provide a temporary bliss.

    I would never be satisfied. But recently things have come into perspective again. It’s hard but I’m trying really hard to not be swept away by the social media apps, to try and focus on the things that ACTUALLY matter.

    Like

  4. Ravenclaw Book Club says:

    I’m surprised at how many people in the comments agree with this, cause I’ve never felt like social media has that extreme of an effect on me 😅 If you feel like stats are taking over your life and social media is ruining you, you’re going into it with the wrong attitude, one of wanting to be as popular as possible; like you said, we should just be on Twitter etc. to interact with other bloggers and talk about things that interest us. I know a lot of my favourite bloggers who sometimes talk about things that are not related to books, and those tweets don’t get any attention, but they keep doing it, because they enjoy it. I think the key is finding the right balance. And if you dedicate your blog to posts that aren’t super popular but more niche and more “you”, you may not get famous, but you will slowly but surely gain followers, and those will be genuinely interested in your content! x

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I’ve seen an increasing number of people discussing feeling burned out because of the need to be competitive. I admit I don’t fully understand it because I largely just do what I want–who cares what some other blogger is doing? (It’s not like we’re even really competing here. What’s the prize for getting 100 more followers than someone else??) However, I think that may have something to do with my age? I can remember a time before people had computers in their homes. So computers don’t run my life.

      But I think you have a very healthy attitude towards social media!

      Like

  5. Holly says:

    I really love this post ❤ I've found myself looking at my phone and computer way more now than when I first began blogging, which is something that I'm really trying to fix. Numbers can be fun, but they're not the most important part!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      And I think that if we love what we’re doing, our enthusiasm and passion can bring people to us! Why not focus on what we enjoy and hope like-minded people come along?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Shanah - Bionic Book Worm says:

    This is such an important post! With social media, everything is just so visible. Things are always right there and in your face. Not that it’s a bad thing – it just that it makes it so easy to compare! It has taken me a very long time to reprogram my thoughts – and that’s what I think needs to be done. We have to stop making ourselves feel like we aren’t good enough and we have to stop comparing! I’ve been guilty of it myself. I make a post on the same day someone else does – same content and same topic yet they have over 100 likes where I don’t. I started my blog at the same time as someone else yet they have 3,000 followers and I don’t. The information is too easy to see. I’ve had to stop looking at the stats and just stay true to me. But yes, social media makes that hard sometimes!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, everything is in our faces! And so it’s easy to keep in mind that we don’t have the whole story. Why do they have 3000 followers? Did they spend five hours a day commenting when that’s not something we can realistically do? Did they just get lucky? Who knows! I think not looking at the stats can sometimes be very helpful in allowing us to take a step back and breathe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Shanah - Bionic Book Worm says:

        I always wonder why someone is more successful over another. Like you said I think it has a lot to do with how much time they can devote to it. This is a hobby for me – and I don’t get paid for it so this is a spare time only thing…… which I have almost none of 😂 luck has a bit to do with it too I think

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          I think it’s partially time and partially luck. I might see a post that did really well and think to myself, “Oh, people liked that! I’ll make it a feature or do something similar for a follow-up post.” Then the next time no one clicks on it! What’s the difference? I’m sure I don’t know!! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  7. FranL says:

    YES.
    I think there are some great advantages to social media. It can be the source of friendships, collaborations, relationships… People who would never otherwise have a platform to voice their ideas/opinions/share their work now have one. All that is wonderful.
    BUT
    When it interferes with our real lives, our real world experiences, and relationships, it’s damaging. I think when people feel like something is missing in their non-virtual lives they emotionally invest in social media more. It can give the ego a quick boost when someone makes a kind comment on a blog post or even retweets or “likes” something that you put out there. From there it’s not hard to be sucked into a negative spiral of worrying about followers and likes and stats…
    I think the “solution” (I don’t know if it’s really a solution per se, but it’s probably the healthiest way to use social media) is to set limits. Don’t set your phone to alert you whenever you get a like or a reply. Give yourself set amounts of time to spent on social media so that you don’t forget to experience real life.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I love that social media allows me to connect with people I might not have met and to stay in touch with friends. Still, it’s easy to forget that social media is all curated. People only post things that make themselves look good! It makes it seem like everyone’s lives are perfect when in fact these are only carefully chosen moments that are shared. Maybe they took fifty photos to get one they thought looked good!

      I agree that setting limits can be very helpful. If you’re out there having fun and not looking at your phone, it’s actually quite easy to forget about social media altogether!

      Liked by 1 person

      • FranL says:

        Exactly, and it allows us to curate our lives too and present them in the way that we want them to be seen. Which again, when you’re going through a hard time, is appealing. I think that’s when it’s easiest to fall down the social media rabbit hole.

        Like

  8. Meggy | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    I stopped looking at the numbers and wow it makes a huge difference. I love social media because I like posting silly pics, sharing book love and discussing with authors or publishers, but I don’t feel any pressure to get more followers or be constantly on. It’s only a way to connect with new people and my friends. I only now have to cut down on the time spent on them because my schedule is tight and it really doesn’t help stay focused when working, but I love being there and sharing, for the love of sharing 🙂

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I think not looking at the numbers helps, as well. I can understand wanting to grow, but my social media counts tends to stay fairly stable, and I think I’ve come to terms with that. It’s obvious I’m not suddenly going to get 500 new followers, so there’s no point in really worrying about it.

      Like

    • Krysta says:

      It sounds like you have a quite healthy attitude towards social media! As long as social media it still fun and not stressful, then I think we’re using it effectively!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Marie says:

    This is such a great post Krysta, I loved reading it. It is so easy to get caught up with numbers on social media – to seek validation, likes, answers and everything else, it makes me feel quite down more than once, or pressured to do or overall just be better. I’m trying to teach myself not to look at numbers too often and just enjoy what I have, share the love, chat with some people I am comfortable with and try not to pressure myself. It’s easier said than done, I am very prone to comparison but I’m trying everyday ahah 🙂

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      It’s so easy to compare ourselves with others when we see everyone posting their stats, their vacation pictures, whatever. And easy to forget that it’s all carefully curated to be positive! No share pictures that make them look awkward or bad! No one shares posts about losing followers or not having any followers for months! So sometimes the narratives we are comparing ourselves with aren’t really the whole story!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. kozbisa says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It has allowed me to easily keep in touch with my friends who are far away, and I have seen it used to accomplish awesome things — finding lost things/people, raising money, but more often, I see it used for spreading negativity and hate. I like blogging but I cannot build that social media presence that will push me to the next level. I have to admit, I prefer to read blogs and my books, and I don’t want to give up my time for social media.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I also struggle with the fact that I started blogging because, well, I like blogging. I like writing posts. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the focus there while juggling all the social media, photography, graphic-making, etc. that people expect to go along with the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, that’s the trouble. Book bloggers are expected to do it all and we only have so much time in the day! Why not spend it on things we actually enjoy?

      Like

  11. Charlotte says:

    Back in the day when I started blogging (ten years ago), social media wasn’t a thing, and to see what other people were up to, we had to actually bookmark blogs and visit them regularly. Now twitter, facebook, et al. seem to be functioning as a filter, so that the actually connection to blogs and the people writing them seems harder to get to, and it’s easier to feel competitive on a superficial level such as you are describing. I enjoy making new friends on twitter, but it isn’t the same as finding new blogs to love….

    And just a plug–if you want to meet other bloggers (and authors and other book folk) in real life, come to Kidlitcon 2017 (Hershey PA Nov. 3 and 4). (http://kidlitosphere.org/news/)

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That’s an interesting perspective! I can see how visiting the blogs might make the experience feel more personal. And you are less likely to know their stats since not all themes include them. Though it is advisable to put it on your blog now if you want ARCs, I suppose. Just another way we end up competing!

      Like

      • Charlotte says:

        I still mostly look at blogs that have been around for a while and I don’t think the majority of them have stats that show….My stats are less impressive than they were a few years ago, and I’d feel a little ashamed to have to display them, even though I stopped checking much on them about two years ago. But fortunately when you’ve been around a while, you have certain publishers who have become used to sending out ARCs regardless.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          I don’t check our stats too much anymore, but they tend to be relatively stable. It was more interesting when we started and had like eight views a day. Then if we got 15 it was super exciting! 😀

          To be honest, I’m not really interested in ARCs. Maybe if it’s a book I’m really looking forward to I’d want one, but generally I want to read what I want and on my own schedule. ARCs stress me out!

          Like

  12. Milliebot says:

    I definitely feel the social media pressure at times. I’ve found a nice posting schedule with my blog and while most of my followers don’t interact with me on here, I’m glad for the people who do (like you!) because I’m here to discuss, not to just watch silently (though I do fall prey to that) or just subscribe and disappear like so many seem to do. The biggest place I feel I “fall short” is instagram though. It seems like all the “popular” accounts read mass amounts of YA and/or post pictures with a crazy amount of props. I would love to have more followers and more people to talk to, but I’m not willing to change my photo style for that to happen. My photos are on the simple side and hardly ever have filters because my goal is to just show off the books I’m reading. I don’t need all that extra. But I often wonder if my numbers would go up if I conformed. It’s tough.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      My understanding is that Instagram’s algorithm has changed, too, so it’s harder to find new accounts to follow. It might not be you! Though I think for sure that the book blogging community is primarily interested in YA. Our MG reviews get far fewer views and comments and sometimes people who seemed interested in a book decide they’re not once they realize it’s MG. 😦 But I love MG so I’m not going to stop reading and reviewing it!

      Like

      • Milliebot says:

        Yeah I definitely lost likes after the new algorithm. It could be that most of my followers are just zombies who follow a million people, but I see less interaction now and it does suck.

        I do hate to feel like I’m blogging into a void. It’s hard when so much of the community (even the people I watch on YouTube) all seem to read more ya than anything else. Lots of people tend to stick to one genre or age group. I read all over the place.

        I’m glad I found a fellow MG lover!

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          I suppose once you follow a couple hundred people it is difficult to interact with all of them. :/

          I really don’t understand just sticking to YA. I feel like it gets repetitive after awhile. I like to read all types of things, too.

          Like

          • Milliebot says:

            Yeah I do follow about 300 people but they don’t all post daily. Some are family members who almost never post. But I wouldn’t go above that because I actually want to SEE the pics people post.

            Yeah I can’t stick to any genre or age for too long. I like variety!

            Liked by 1 person

      • Charlotte says:

        yeah, as a mostly MG blogger there’s no point in comparing my blog and its readership to one that reviews mostly YA. I would love to find more MG reviewing blogs to follow, but it’s hard to.

        Like

        • Krysta says:

          That’s so sad! I know Shannon Messenger does a link-up to MG reviews on her blog. That might be a good place to find some bloggers interested in MG? I haven’t checked them out myself yet.

          Like

  13. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    YES!!! I agree so so much!! I really struggle with social media! And the pressure to keep up is so intense and I never know what I’m supposed to be doing with it anyway. hehehe I love the reference to 90s movies- you’re so right though- people need to be more aware that numbers really aren’t everything. And I regularly switch off from twitter and facebook- cos it just gets too much and I don’t have all the time in the world to keep on top of it (whoops!). And I actually deleted facebook from my phone recently cos I ran out of space and it actually made me feel pretty good to not be bombarded with notifications all the time (if only I had the courage to delete it permanently lol 😉 ) Cos yeah, I do feel like it gets in the way of life. I absolutely love this post!!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      It does feel like bloggers are increasingly expected to do everything. Social media, pictures, content creation, graphic design, etc. etc. I think a lot of us started out wanting to write about books not necessarily to become marketing experts! That all comes with a lot of stress. And I think sometimes just shutting off social media for awhile is a very healthy thing to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    I made a vow to not look at numbers when I began blogging. For the most part, I have succeeded and am thankful for that. I do however relate to and love this post. Social Media is such a heavy influence in our lives and that is ridiculous when we think about it. Why should platforms such as Facebook alter our perceptions or place pressure on us? It should not but often does. I feel it a lot as I struggle to keep up and see all that everyone is else seems to share. It causes me to set standards or goals that are completely counterproductive. I often end up overdoing it as a result 😦

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, it’s easy to forget that people curate their Facebook pages to showcase their best selves. It looks like they are always out having fun. But, of course, they don’t take pictures of themselves sitting at home not having fun! 😀 I try to stay away from social media, generally. I like using it to talk to people, but I don’t want to be tempted to compare myself to everyone else. :/

      Liked by 1 person

    • Briana says:

      I think that can be really nice. I tend to look at the stats for our blog. (WordPress is designed in such a way it’s sometimes hard not to see them, really.) But I decided I don’t really care about numbers on the social media front. I’m not trying to become the most popular person on Twitter or anything. I just want to talk to interesting people!

      Like

      • Krysta says:

        Haha, yes. You basically have to look at the stats when you log on! I find the stats kind of interesting, but I don’t worry about changing my blogging style to get more views.

        Like

  15. saraletourneau says:

    Excellent post – and boy do I know the feeling. Because as much as I enjoyed using social media, it moves so quickly and constantly that it’s impossible to keep up with people’s news, updates, etc. unless you spend hours scrolling through your feed. And when you’re away from social media for extended periods of time, or if you’re trying to balance your online time with other pursuits (writing, for example), it makes that catch-up even more overwhelming.

    The funny thing is, right now I’m using social media less often than I have in a long time. Between stress in my offline life and first-drafting a new novel, it’s been a challenge to find the time, energy, and desire to go on Twitter and other places. Right now I’m using Goodreads (for reading, of course) and Facebook (for family / personal reasons), but it’s as time allows. And I’m fine with it. This is what I can do right now, and I’m not going to force myself to find additional time for Twitter and whatnot when that time is nowhere to be found. And it’s been a liberating experience so far.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I agree that, once you start using social media less, it can be surprisingly easy. There have been a couple of times (ex. going on vacation) where I literally did not log onto Twitter for a week. It wasn’t really hard not to do because I was spending my time doing interesting things, and when I come back, I don’t really feel like I “missed” anything. You start realizing that social media can be a huge time suck without much payoff.

      Though one of the times I took a social media break was when we were plagiarized (along with multiple other bloggers), and I was days behind everyone else involved, and that was vaguely a mess to try to catch up with. And I did find out through Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Krysta says:

        Social media moves so fast it seems like if you’re away out miss everything. At the same time, because it moves on so fast, it often seems as if the thing everyone is talking about can’t be that big of a deal, or people would talk about it for more than a day.

        Like

  16. An Introverted Bookworm says:

    I love this post. As a new book blogger I am pretty overwhelmed with the amount of social media there is! Me as someone who never used anything but Facebook and occasionally Instagram find myself looking at twitter more than I ever dreamed. I think for me the problem is that I have been having a hard time finding people within my niche because they don’t seem to have the same presence online as YA bloggers. And while I do enjoy the occasional YA, it is not my preferred genre. I prefer classics, non fiction and historical fiction but the online presence just isn’t there (at least where I can find it) 😞
    But I can definitely relate to your post.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      I agree. YA and romance seem to be the big genres for book blogs. I like classics, as well, but it’s hard to find people who blog about them. Doing Dewey does a lot of nonfiction, but I also have trouble thinking of other bloggers who do.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. luvtoread says:

    Excellent post! I go back and forth with social media. Sometimes I love it, other times I really can’t stand it and all of the “ME” posts that are out there. I feel much better about myself when I stay away from Facebook and Instagram. I feel happier when I’m not reading all of the negativity on Twitter. So why do I return to it? I like to know what is happening – what people are saying about current events, and I enjoy reading long debates on Facebook (I rarely participate in them).
    There’s something sad about our constant need to compare ourselves to others. We all do it to some extent, and I find that the solution for me when feeling down is to stay away from social media. That helps a lot and then when I’m feeling more positive I can go back on, but just for a short time.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That’s the trouble. If you’re not on social media, it feels like you are missing everything! Before I got on social media, my friends would actually forget to invite me to parties and events on a regular basis. Um…I guess we weren’t really friends if they kept forgetting about me?? Still, I don’t go on much. Usually I check to see if I have any messages and that’s about it. Then I don’t have to scroll through and feel sad people were hanging out without me or get annoyed by people’s negative posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. DoingDewey says:

    I don’t think I have this problem, but sometimes I have to work at it! It’s definitely easy to get caught up in the numbers if you’re not careful or if you’re doing things that don’t appeal to you for other reasons.

    Like

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