(Addiction: dependence on substances or activities. Synonyms: habit, weakness, compulsion, fixation, enslavement!)
My name is Lesley and I’m addicted to gaining followers for my social media. There. I’ve said it. Do I feel relief? Not really as I’m in the grip of it.
It started in February when I began my blog. In the blogging world, more followers equal higher ‘stats’ and higher stats mean more status as a blogger and therefore more opportunities for work.
As a mum, wife and teacher, this means I’m juggling both blogging, work and family life but I’m finding that I’m on my phone or laptop in front of my son and husband. I’m constantly thinking about it: when shall I post that photo on Instagram? What shall I write about next? I’m writing in the middle of the night and waking up my husband. On our wedding anniversary yesterday, I made him stop the car next to a field so that he could take a photo of me walking in it. We had an argument.
My husband and I talked about it and I admitted I was ‘addicted’ to gaining more followers and trying to ‘get out there.’ Even writing this now, I’m thinking will this post be liked or shared; will it gain me lots of followers? We agreed that I needed to chill the f*** out about it all. After three months of blogging, I can’t expect to have high stats.
I talked in an earlier blog (The Weird and Wonderful World of Blogging) about how it all reminds me of a Charlie Brooker ‘Black Mirror’ episode called Nosedive. Set in the near future: a smiley, status obsessed world, people wear contact lenses that enable them to see the ‘social rank score’ of anyone they interact with from your boss to a shop assistant. The story is about one insecure woman’s darkly funny attempt to gain ‘likes’ so she can become one of society’s ‘elites.’
This morning, I realised THAT WAS ME THIS WEEKEND! I went to a blogging conference where I met other bloggers. I have to admit that I was ‘slightly’ sycophantic at times…perhaps…*cringe*. I’ve definitely said nice comments or tagged people in Instagram and Twitter posts in the hope of getting ‘followed’. I think a lot of other people do that too. At the conference, most people were friendly but some people weren’t. I spoke to a friendly ‘top’ blogger who said some people are ‘treaders’ – those who step on people on their way to the top instead of supporting them.
I had to ask myself again today, what was my purpose in starting the blog? To document places where I go, to write, to go to some places for free, to perhaps one day give up the day job. But it’s not free as you’re expected to be taking photos, thinking about how to promote the place etc. It means you’re not 100% focused on enjoying the experience with your family.
Having a background in journalism, I feel the need to post a blog straight after a visit to a place. Then once you post it, you have to share on social media and email the ‘client’ with the links. But as one of my blogging friends says, this is not what happens in the blogging world – you should have set days when you blog and post.
I am not alone in this addiction. Whole businesses are making money out of people who want to ‘gain more followers for your social media’ It’s not considered a bad thing at all. But in my case, when it’s impacting on family life and affecting a ‘nice day out’ it is something to question.
I also wonder how it impacts on young people who are even more vulnerable to becoming addicted. It made me think about how what we value as a society is changing. Perhaps we should spend less time worrying about what people think (i.e. how many ‘likes’ we get) and more time caring about our close family and friends. (She says while writing a blog post on her laptop!)
The solution. My husband and I talked about it yesterday: to try and chill the f*** out about the blog. To put the phone down, stop looking at the laptop and have set times when I write and post. And then maybe if I’m not so desperate, I’ll get some more followers 😉