I’ve been suffering from a bit of blog drift lately, for lack of a better term. It crystalized for me last night as I found myself cornered at a dinner party with a social media wizard asking me about content and SEO and stats and the like, and my only explanation as to what my brand was “about” was a sort of half-ashamed (or perhaps fully ashamed) mumbling of how I wasn’t very professional or organized or monetized or anything-ized, and that I was “just a mommy blogger.”
He wasn’t very impressed.
Nor was I.
I’ve been experiencing a touch of discomfort whenever I log on lately because rather than getting right to the point and putting virtual pen to paper as I was long accustomed to, I’ve slipped into the habit of spending exponentially more time reading more and more content across a wider spectrum of all manner of digital publications.
This is not bad! This is good. It is absolutely necessary and essential and life-giving for a writer to read. And it’s best practices to read what other players in your field, so to speak, are putting out there.
But so much of what I’ve been reading has been in the pursuit of entertainment and distraction and, almost imperceptibly at first, but inarguably now, comparison.
I’m finding that many nights as I sit clicking through to “just one more” article or post or essay that I’m not actually reading to learn things, or to grow in virtue, or to experience the world from another person’s point of view; I’m reading (and I’m ashamed to admit this) to compare myself, to compare my life, to measure my abilities and my gifts and my accomplishments against a virtual composite of someone else’s highlight reel. And I generally come up short.
I’m not anti-internet. I’m not anti-social media either, though I don’t have personal accounts on Facebook or Twitter. I know myself well enough to know that I can’t be trusted with an Instagram account, either, because the temptation to capture all the moments and edit all the scenes is just too great.
In short, I’m a crappy blogger. At least in the sense of the blog as a means to connect with a broad audience across a spectrum of channels, and to facilitate interactivity within the community that forms. When I started blogging 8 years ago it was simply an outlet for an overactive and overly-analytic brain that saw patterns and deeper meanings in everyday experiences. I never foresaw the social aspect of it, but I was delighted when people actually started reading the things that I wrote.
Now that readership and interaction are so crucial to the whole blog experience, I feel kind of like a stranger in my own land. Almost every time I sit down to write these days I find myself asking not, “does this matter to me?” But rather, “will this generate page views? Will people respond to this? Is this likely to perform well?” All of which are totally stupid questions for me to be asking because this blog is not monetized, it’s not my job, and the internet isn’t a popularity contest.
What I am emphatically not saying is that monetization or sponsorship or professionalism are negative things. By no means! I’m just working through my own neurosis here, trying to understand why I get a sinking feeling in my stomach whenever I see another fellow mommy from the digital trenches has risen to the top via a book deal or a cool collaboration.
A rising tide lifts the whole harbor and all that, yes. But my broken and selfish human nature sometimes prevents me from celebrating when others accomplish what I long to do.
The blog for me was never about becoming anything else, until I started to look around and see that for some people their blogs were becoming something Else. Something bigger and better and more exciting than tap tap tapping out funny travel stories or recaps of hard days in the mother hood.
I don’t know where I’m going with this except to resolve to refocus on my original purpose for this space. Or, gosh, maybe to define that purpose, period. And maybe to clean out my feed reader from the superfluous 18 daily missives from Apartment Therapy and the likes. And to step away from the computer at a set time in the evening and just be.
I don’t know. I just don’t. But one thing is for certain; I’m so glad you’re reading. And if you’ll bear with me as this little space weathers digital menopause or whatever exactly is happing, I promise to stop making bad picture collages and trying to do design of any kind.
Except in my living room. Can’t stop, won’t stop, moving the couches.