I tread on a slippery slope as I compose these thoughts. In the publication of this post, I may alienate some readers, or I may attract others. Either way, these words are inside me waiting to escape. This topic is tugging at me to be contemplated, in both my mind and the minds of others. Be true to yourself. Sometimes the words that are most difficult to write are the ones that need to be read.
I didn’t think that I would be producing this post today. Not in the way you think though. It’s not like I had some premonition of impending doom or anything like that. It is actually quite a bit simpler and much less melodramatic. You see, I begin a lot of things. I take on new projects, too many to count. And often, they sit. Unfinished, unresolved, collecting dust. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I love to explore new realms, open new doors. I just tend to not spend a lot of time in the room once I get there.
This writing thing? It seems much different. When I wrote and published my first blog post, I would have been lying if I told you I was sure to be committed to it eight months later. In my unspoken thoughts, I suspected it may just be another one of those transient pursuits, a fleeting passage through another door from which I would quickly run and escape, bored and unfulfilled. I was very wrong, and I couldn’t be happier that I was. That initial post was the first step on a lifelong journey. A journey that has no finish line, but one that I am happy to travel upon. One that will provide many eye-opening observations along the way, each important in its own unique way. Today, I share one of those personal insights with you.
I had no grand aspirations about my blog being read by other individuals aside from family and friends. However, when the first notification appeared in my WordPress banner indicating someone liked a post, a peculiar type of addiction was born. With the simple click of a mouse, my perceptions on writing changed course. Like an airplane being diverted from oncoming traffic, I felt rescued, blinded by the fact I was being redirected into a storm cloud.
Suddenly, the number of likes I received on each post began to serve as a barometer for my writing success. Not success in the form of monetary gain or anything material. Rather, success defined as my ability to put words on paper and have the mostly coherent thoughts make a difference to someone else in a positive way.
In the weeks and months that followed, each like, each follow, served to deposit a form of mental currency into my emotional bank account. And can we really blame ourselves for wanting that? I would be lying to myself if I said that I didn’t feel a rush of adrenaline with each of those mouse clicks that resulted in a new like or follow. Even WordPress nudges our excitement levels along by displaying the message ‘8 people have liked your post so far. Nice!’ We all want to be liked, to be appreciated, to make a difference with our contributions to the world. Whether they are for business, pleasure, or anywhere in between, we all want to be accepted.
But. There’s always a but. Being liked can be dangerous. For some, it can become a malignant growth that permeates your being in a truly viral nature, overshadowing the original intent of your offering. The euphoric feeling of swelling social media statistics blocks you from conveying your true intentions. I have been witness to many websites, many people, many attitudes that have been cultivated and nurtured based upon these seemingly innocent and harmless mouse clicks.
Special invites to like other pages, personal goals to reach a certain number of likes or follows, like me and I will like you mentality. It has evolved into a compulsive desire for some. As if coercing or convincing someone to click a button on your page will provide some tangible evidence of your worth or value. Without even realizing it, I was teetering on the edge of this precipice. In a somewhat hypocritical manner, I was outwardly chastising this behavior on one hand while relishing in my site statistics on the other. A fortuitous voice of reason spoke to me upon reflection of words that are very familiar to me. My bio page.
During those moments of infancy as a blog author, I was also most pure, relatively unbiased by the feedback and opinions of others. And in the compilation of that page about me, I unwittingly defined myself, providing a personal mission statement to live by in the process. My four words, inspire and be inspired, have evolved from those initial thoughts.
I don’t want to be liked. I don’t want to be followed. What I want is to share my story with others. And to have others share their story in turn. What I want is to make a difference, to make our lives more meaningful. Together. A click is just a click, but a single word has the power to echo in our memories forever. Like me, if you wish. Follow me, if you dare. But first and foremost, share your story.