I started blogging about 7 years ago in August of 2010. I didn’t know a blasted thing about blogging and I literally threw myself into the deep end to try to learn about it. Not knowing where to start, I went to Books-A-Million and bought WordPress for Dummies. (I had at least settled on a platform for my blog).
I may as well been reading that book in French. It was over my head. I told my husband, I’m not sure what that means— not being able to understand a book called WordPress For Dummies.
I wrote on my ABOUT page (which totally needs updating by the way) how I nearly pulled my hair out trying to set the blog up. What should have taken minutes took me hours upon hours. I said a few words that would have made a sailor blush. I banged my fist (and head) on the computer desk. I took deep breaths. It was all so foreign to me, this talk about Widgets and Gravatars, RSS feeds and HTML, Permalinks and Plugins, and metadata and Domains.
I still feel very new to blogging despite the seven years under my belt but I’m still learning so that’s a good thing.
I am not a technologically minded person. My brain wants to run and hide when it hears the word technology.
I recently read a book called Blogging for Writers: How Authors and Writers Build Successful Blogs by Robin Houghton.
When I first heard about the book, I thought it wasn’t a book for me because I’m not a real writer. But then I read some reviews and read that it was good for new bloggers who wanted to write better. The back cover read: “No Technological knowledge is required.” That’s great, I thought, because Lord knows I am not a techy person! I’m still using a flip phone for crying out loud. I don’t use social media. I don’t “do” Facebook. I don’t twitter (or is it tweet?), I don’t have an Instagram account. I don’t have a pretty Pinterest board. I’ve heard of Linkedin, Reddit, and Snapchat, but don’t really have the foggiest idea what they are. I’m Wilma Flintstone, and I’m married to Fred Flintstone. It drives people crazy that neither of us have a smart phone. We’ve never texted, nor do we have texting capabilities. You think I despise cell phones? Meet my husband. We were made for each other. We have no idea how we ended up with two techy math and physics-loving children who both became engineers. It’s a mystery.
Anyway, I bought the book because it looked like an easy read. Its colorful organized pages appealed to me. While it was thorough and had some good advice, it wasn’t the book for me. It was way over my head from a technological standpoint and I was so totally lost towards the end that I really did want to cry. But I was still glad I read the book.
I did learn some things. I learned some things I’m doing right. I learned things I’m doing wrong. I should be utilizing social media to get more readership, I need to employ the use of an editorial calendar which would mean less writers-block, I need to quit being so long-winded and write shorter posts (this will be my biggest challenge as you can tell by the length of this post) and I need to update my About page which hasn’t been updated in seven years since I started this blog. There was a lot of helpful advice in this book but so much techy stuff I didn’t understand.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that the thought of having to utilize social media makes me want to vomit. I used to be on Facebook many years ago but am not now. Facebook has pros and cons. I enjoyed it for a while. But I started feeling like I was spending way too much time on it. It was a huge time-suck. It had become my golden calf. Maintaining a presence on Facebook requires a lot of time and effort.
There were definitely things I liked about Facebook. I loved hooking up with old friends I hadn’t seen since high school and catching up with them. I enjoyed staying more in touch with distant family. I think social media does make one feel more connected and part of community. I loved being on at night and having my college-aged sons (who both live out-of-state) pop up to chat with me, telling me about their day, their classes, projects, college life, roommate issues, etc. I cherished those late night chats.
There were things I didn’t like about Facebook too. Like the bullying and all the political in-your-face comments that were sucking the life right out of me and making me need blood pressure medication. There was way too much drama. I didn’t care for the offensive language and inappropriate content that would sometimes make its way into my Newsfeed. There are some interesting articles I’ve read that report psychologists have noticed links between heavy Facebook use and depression. Facebook can also cause jealousy, envy and coveting. I was already figuring out that Facebook wasn’t healthy for me. I needed to get away.
I used to be in a church book club. Lent was approaching, and one day the book club ladies and I were sitting around after our meeting discussing our Lenten disciplines. I mentioned I was giving up Facebook for Lent and you’d thought I’d just announced I was getting a nose ring. I realize that giving up social media for Lent is quite common now but back then it wasn’t. I deactivated my account that year on Ash Wednesday. Giving it up was difficult, especially at first. But it got easier and easier and I found I didn’t even miss it by the end of Lent. Another time, I deactivated my account because it was an election year and I was tired of the political bashing and name-calling. I saw so much hatred being spewed and it was wearing on me. I was tired of all the disrespectful political memes. So I deactivated my account again and it was a welcome break.
In August of 2012, after much deliberating, I made the decision to delete my Facebook account (the previous two times I had only deactivated it— this time I was deleting it). With deactivation, you can bring your account back up in a snap just by logging back in. When you delete, that’s permanent. After you delete, and if in the future, you decide you want back on, you’ve lost everything and so you must start all over. My friends laughed and told me I would never survive without Facebook and that I would be back. I deleted it and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve enjoyed Facebook sobriety now for nearly five years.
I do admit to sometimes feeling more “out of the loop” and more isolated since I’m no longer on Facebook. Like I’m no longer a member of the club. I do miss keeping up with friends. I don’t have the blog readership I had when I was on Facebook. I actually had friends say to me, “Oh, I miss reading your blog since you got off Facebook.” Some even asked me why I quit blogging. I tried explaining I still had a blog and that they could still read and follow my blog even though I was no longer on Facebook, but it didn’t seem to register.
I have no desire to get back on Facebook. Yet, at the same time, I feel I’m being forced to IF I want to be a successful blogger and increase my readership. I have been left to feel that blogs don’t fare well without the aid of social media. If I ever want to write and publish a memoir (and I’ve thought about it), social media will be necessary to build an author platform (more about that later). I love to write but I’m starting to think that maybe offline journaling is a better fit for me than blogging.
I’ve got decisions to make.
Your thoughts? Feelings about social media and blogging? I would love to hear your comments.