For many of us, social media may have started out as a fun way to talk about our interests, meet new people, and have conversations about the books and fandoms that we love. However, it sometimes seems impossible not to also be lured in by the promise of more views, more interactions, and more likes. A “like” on our posts means that people like us, right? They think we’re funny or clever or interesting. Those “likes” can make us feel like our worth as people or bloggers is tied up into our numbers.
Of course, this is not a healthy way to live and many of us have mourned the loss of the way we used to read, the excitement we used to feel when we held a new book in our hands. Now we always have to be thinking about how fast to read to keep up with our schedule, what to say about it that will be interesting, how to photograph it so we look professional. All this can be exhausting! And the fun can go out of reading and blogging.
So how can we try to find some of our old enthusiasm for books and talking about books? Below I offer some suggestions.
Think about your original goals for joining social media
When we joined Twitter or created a Facebook page for our blogs, we probably didn’t initially think that all our Tweets had to get so many reTweets for us to be successful. We probably did not set goals for how many “likes” each post needed. Instead, we probably hoped to chat about books with other book lovers and to drive some traffic to our blogs so we could keep the conversations going. Try to adopt a new attitude towards social media. If it’s doing what you hoped–letting you connect with other bloggers and getting some people to click on your blog links–then does it really matter if you don’t have as many followers as someone else?
Think About Why You’re Posting Content
Some days I think of something that I think would make a great meme or a funny Tweet. I lament the fact that I don’t have anything to do with my ideas since I don’t really deal with our social media. Then I stop myself. Exactly why do I need to share this joke in 140 characters or fewer with a bunch of people on the Internet? Well, the answer is, I don’t. Except that I want the Internet to see how clever and funny I am. And, honestly, that’s not a good enough reason for me to put something online. I don’t need the Internet to validate me. If I put something online, I want it to be because I believe other people might find it interesting or helpful or enjoyable. I want it to be because I am making connections with other people and sparking conversations. I don’t want it to all be about me.
Limit Your Posts and Your Interactions When Necessary
When I take photos of my friends and I hanging out, I go old school. I email them the photos. Maybe if I am feeling extra generous, I’ll get some copies printed out for them (That’s still a thing, right?). Why? Because I can’t always think of a good reason everyone I am connected to on social media might want to see me having brunch or playing mini golf with people they’ve never met. The experience didn’t include them and I sometimes realize that the only reason I want to post these pictures is so that I can reassure all my acquaintances that I’m cool and have friends and I do stuff besides read.
Limiting my social media posts, however, allows me to make deeper connections with people. The friends I email with photos can email back with inside jokes or additions to the conversations we had. That wouldn’t happen on Facebook. They would just “like” my photos and maybe leave a “Good to see you!” comment if I’m lucky. Plus, I know that getting a surprise email or packet of photos really makes someone’s day. They feel special. I reached out to them in particular, not the Internet at large.
When using social media for blogging, we can also assess whether what we’re sharing is really useful to our audiences or if it would be better suited to a DM or a blog post or a comment on a blog. We can find ways to reach out to people, make them feel special, and and create deeper conversations. Everyone wins when we create interactions that go beyond “likes.”
Leave the Technology at Home
If you’re driving yourself crazy checking your stats and your latest updates, feeling like you need to be on top of everything, you might want to try just stopping. It will allow you to enjoy other things in life more and you can return to your social media and your blogging feeling refreshed and having gained ideas, experiences, and insights that you might otherwise have missed. But your writing will be richer for them.
When I am at not at home, I don’t take my devices with me. I don’t surf the Internet at work or on break. I leave my cell phone in a place where I can’t take it out to look at it. And, honestly, it feels great. I don’t have the disappointment of constantly realizing no one’s answered my messages. I don’t waste my time mindlessly scrolling through feeds. Instead, I feel powerful. I have the ability to ignore my devices and I have great conversations and great interactions with people because I’m not distracted. There are few things that feel worse than talking to someone who keeps texting someone else–like they’d rather be with that person instead of with you.
Do What You Enjoy
In the end, blogging is supposed to be a hobby we do because it makes us happy. All the followers in the world aren’t going to make up for the fact that we feel miserable because we’re always trying to keep up with someone else or for the fact that we’re doing things because we think we “have to” and not because we want to. If you like paranormal romances, read them. If you want to update your feeds with the news that you read Christian fiction, do it. If you realize you can’t keep posting several times a week or several times a day, stop. You can’t know what anyone else’s life looks like. They may not be reading 300 books a year because they’re “better” than you. It may just be that they don’t have kids or don’t have a job like you do. Blogging isn’t a competition. It’s a conversation. One we’re all meant to enjoy.