Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Underbelly of Blogging * Tyrannical Numbers



Numbers can be a joy slayer, can't they.

You don't need to be a blogger for too long {or engage in any kind of social media, for that matter} to find that you can quickly become absolutely obsessed with analytics of all kinds.

Hits.  Comments.  Subscribers.  Followers.  Active users.  New users.  Number of sessions per user.  Average session duration.  Bounce rate.  Pages per session.  Page views.

This unwieldy obsession, the endless striving, the unhealthy comparison, can fill us up with a rather unattractive pride when the hits keep on coming.  Or make us feel like great big losers when the numbers dry up. 

An obsession with statistics leads to all kinds of unsettling responses ... confusion, disappointment, frustration, ungratefulness, comparison, hurt feelings, jealousy, and burnout.  When we go there, our focus quickly moves from producing quality work and building healthy community to an exhausting, creative-sapping marathon that leads us nowhere fast.

If how we feel about ourselves rises and falls with our ever-changing stats, we'll never be at peace with who God's created us to be.  And if there's no peace in our souls, we won't be able to love others well, for we'll always be prone to following some kind of off-kilter agenda.

And that will do nothing but hinder us from authentically, joyfully obeying the biblical mandate to 'encourage one another daily' {Hebrews 3:13}.




Numbers lie.  

They don't speak the truth of who we are in Christ.  They don't necessarily reflect the unique creativity we've been given or speak to any godly wisdom we may have to offer.  They are fickle and transient and too easily throw us off course.

If we put too much emphasis on the messages they send us, they can become an idol, pure and simple.  

For me, being fairly technologically ignorant has turned out to be bliss.  I have no idea how many subscribers I have and follow only the most minimal statistical info.  This utter lack of savvy and smarts has its advantages, keeping me from somehow feeling like I've arrived on some imaginary pinnacle ... or am going no place fast.

For sure, the whole numbers thing can morph into some kind of weird personal crazy train.  The truth is that our stats will continue to go up and down.  And I refuse to allow any kind of disheartening roller coaster ride to define myself as a writer, a community builder, a pastoral counselor, or a woman.

I'm not going to allow blogging to sap my creativity or steal my joy.

I'm aiming to keep on doing my best work, leaning into making it my goal to please Him {2 Corinthians 5:9}.  All other ground is sinking sand.  

Let's talk numbers.  Just this once.






Also in this mini-series ...
The Underbelly of Blogging * 



*

I'll see you @

32 comments:

  1. I can honestly say I'm not much into numbers. Mine have never been that great. I wanted readers when I first started but realized that was futile thinking. I blog because I like to. I don't obsess over numbers with the church either. Nothing good comes out of it-pride, discouragement, or laziness.

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    1. Interesting that numbers aren't a big deal to you online or in ministry, Bill.

      I'm guessing that most pastors start off the same way, but boards, committees, and 'powers that be' have a way of exerting influence that ends up bringing numbers to the forefront.

      Sad to say.

      Your church sounds like a wonderful place to serve, to love. Blessings to you all ...

      Delete
  2. Great wisdom here! It is really not healthy to base how we feel about ourselves and our writing on numbers though it can be easy to get sucked into that at times. It does take away the joy and it's so much better when we can just focus on pleasing God. I also love the times God can use our posts to help someone else- maybe not many people read it but it makes a big difference for just one person and it is what they need that day. The times when someone comments along those lines mean more to me than big numbers.

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    1. Oh yes, Lesley! I've often prayed that just one person would be blessed by what I put out there, a total dependence on God to make it happen. And when I heard Him do His thing through something I had written, it was such a high.

      Come to think of it, it still is. Praise His holy name!

      'Prosper the work of our hands, Lord.'

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  3. Thanks for this, Linda. I need this reminder all too often.

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  4. I don't follow number either, yeah. Used to, but realized that, like you said, I was basing how I felt on what they 'represented'. It as an excuse, when they ere bad, to figure hat's the use in doing my best,and hen they were good, an excuse to be less critical of quality.

    If I could ask your prayers, Linda - pain's like out of a horror movie this morning.

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    1. Oh God, have mercy on Your precious son, Andrew. Visit Him with extraordinary comfort today.

      Would you please bring the right people into his life to care for his physical needs.

      For Jesus' sake.

      Delete
  5. Yes, Linda, focusing too much on those stats robs us of the joy we should simply take in blog-writing itself. I confess, I've fallen into that trap before, and it is NOT a good place to be. I write because I feel compelled to spread God's Word, and I have faith that He will lead the right readers, who need to hear the Good News, to me in His time.
    Blessings, my friend!

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    1. 'I have faith.'

      You've said it well, Martha, for those of us who view our writing as ministry.

      This is His turf, not ours. What a relief ...

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  6. I agree that numbers can be a joy-killer if we put too much stock in them. How many comments? How many subscribers? On and on, they can take the fun out of it all. Thanks for reminding us to keep numbers out of the picture. Blessings to you, Linda.

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    1. It's a hard task sometimes, at least on this end. And when that happens, I realize I need to close down the computer and go have a life.

      Ya' know?

      ;-}

      Delete
  7. I've been looking at the possibility of trying to get something published, and, wow, the writing advice articles kick the numbers game up a notch. I was reading one this morning and thought - there's just no way I could keep up, either with the time or the technology. And I don't want to look at my readers as commodities to expand my "platform" and blogging footprint. And I agree, my feelings about my writing can rise and fall with the stats. "I refuse to allow any kind of disheartening roller coaster ride to define myself." Amen!

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    1. Oh Barbara, yes, yes, yes to this -->'And I don't want to look at my readers as commodities to expand my "platform" and blogging footprint.'

      Social media morphs into a whole different animal for those who long to publish. My hat's off to them. I couldn't jump through those hoops in a million years.

      Talk about stress. This is the major reason I've said 'no, thanks' to those who've encouraged me to go in that direction.

      Maybe 20 years ago?

      ;-}

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  8. Being results driven isn't healthy, but holding yourself accountable to do what God is leading you to do, is!

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    1. Loved this truth, Marilyn -->'holding yourself accountable to do what God is leading you to do, is!'

      Thanks for speaking it out ...

      Delete
  9. Thank you for pointing us to what is important. I have moments where numbers seem rule, but as time goes on, I am letting go of that. I don't have time for it and it does me absolutely no good. I try to focus on God, who brought me to writing in the first place. If I say I am honoring God in my writing then the numbers do not matter. It has been a learning curve but the freedom in remaining ignorant is so much better.

    You have always modeled how to write honorably in your space. Thank you for that!

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    1. You're right, Mary. As time goes on our perspective changes. Letting go of all that luggage seems to give us a bit more freedom and a clearer ability to focus on what God has called and equipped us to offer.

      For sure, a learning curve ...

      ;-}

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  10. I don't pay much attention to the numbers. The comments on the blog and Facebook are much more important. I love to hear what people have to say!
    Blessings, My Friend!

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    1. I'm with you, Lulu. A good conversation floats my boat!

      ;-}

      Delete
  11. I absolutely love this Linda. Such an important message. When watching numbers, discouragement and comparison can sneak in and zap creativity. And wouldn't that be what the enemy wants-- to stop us spreading the message of the truth of Christ, where freedom comes from not numbers, but in Him? I have been guilty of comparison and number watching on some social media platforms and God's gently nudged me away to look at Him, teaching me continually. Amazing how much He cares for us in all things that we do, isn't it?!

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    1. Lynn, thanks for your clear reminder that the enemy wants a very strong influence in what we do. Especially anything that might spread the message of Jesus Christ.

      And if that isn't a wake-up call, what is.

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  12. Words I need to remind myself of often. Thanks, Linda.

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  13. I think what you have described is a common thought process among bloggers. I started out obsessed by page views, etc., but soon came to realize that I just want to write when I feel are good posts. I also learned to let go of numbers!

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    1. Hi Laurie. I never saw this discussed before and thought it might be helpful.

      I'm glad you're here ...

      Delete
  14. Linda, I found myself nodding along with every sentence. So much wisdom and truth here. I've been in that spot where numbers (as small as they were, in my case) were too important. I was wasting too much time checking stats that never seemed to change, and it was as discouraging as it was unproductive.

    About 1 1/2 years ago, I felt convicted to put a stop to this, so I quit checking all my blog stats cold turkey. I can see how many followers I have on Twitter and Instagram, but I have no idea of any numbers on my blog. Sometimes I think, "What if I checked now and there are only a handful more than there were in 2016?" That's entirely possible, since I've sort of resisted doing many things the experts say makes you get more followers. (groan) But the freedom I've found--from comparisons and also to write what's on my heart--supersedes the nudge to do things that don't feel like me.

    I love your heart, Linda, and the encouraging example you set for your community here. :-)

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    1. Discouraging, unproductive. You've named it well, Lois.

      How I admire your cold turkey approach to not checking your blog stats. It sounds like it's done nothing but give you freedom and peace in pursuing who God's shaped you to be.

      And I'm with you on all those experts. No, I don't want 10,000 subscribers, thank you very much!!

      ;-}

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  15. This is so true, Linda. It's so easy to fall into that trap of numbers or comparison. Some years ago I went to a writing conference, and I was so discouraged for a while with all the talk about building a platform. God whispered to me that I need to write for an audience of One. To stop being so concerned with getting published more or writing a book, but to focus on my blog. To seek to honor Him in what I write and to point hurting ones to the hope there is in Jesus. Not to worry about followers or numbers. I pray for His guidance in writing and in bringing readers in who need encouragement. Of course, I still fall into the comparison trap from time to time, but God is patient with me. Thank you for being so honest with us. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. I hear what you're saying, Trudy. The thought of platform building, endless editing, the uncertainty of the results was a hugely daunting idea and I never even began to pursue publishing even though a few kind readers encouraged me to go there.

      I so admire my blogging companions who have done this hard work. I'd love to hear how it worked out for them ... and if they'd do it again.

      A hard task, indeed ...

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  16. Hey Linda, what a biblical approach to blogging. It's not about the numbers. It's about glorifying Jesus. Happy Mother's Day!

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    1. Amen. In everything we do, may He be praised.

      {And may your Mother's Day turn out to be a real delight!}

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Dear Reader ~

Technical glitches happen.

* sigh *

Doesn't seem to be a place to leave your comment? Or your comment doesn't show up within an hour or so?

I'd love if you'd email me your contribution ... I'd be delighted to hand post it as soon as possible.

lindastoll @ juno . com

My apologies. And thanks for the grace ...

Linda