Friday, January 20, 2012

When You Lose a Follower...

My worth is not measured in the number of Facebook "friends" I have. Nor is it measured by my Klout score or the number of followers or subscribers to my blog. The amount of comments I receive on a particular blog post does not reflect my importance or value as a person. I am not equal to the sum of my social media parts.

I should tape the statement above to my mirror. It's just one of the many things that I should read daily as a mantra, because YES, each part of that statement has been a lie at some point during the time that I have had an "online presence." I'm nearly ashamed to admit that, but I suspect I'm not the only person who has struggled with this sense of their online self.

When I first joined facebook, I was excited about the prospect of connecting with friends, both old and new. And, at first, facebook was just that: an opportunity to catch up with old friends and learn more about new friends. Then, it started becoming High School All Over Again. I worried over my friend count. I worried over the amount of likes on my status updates. I worried that So-and-So didn't like me for whatever reason.

I was disgusting.

And I have to admit I've almost always been That Girl. The girl who wants everyone to like her, the girl who wants no enemies, the girl who measures her self-worth by how others see her. This is not an easy thing to share with you (although, I've shared it before), but this space is for truth and honesty, and this is Who I Am.

Lately, I've been working on making this Who I Was.

When I logged into my Blogger Dashboard a few days ago, I noticed that I'd lost two followers. This isn't the first time I've lost followers, and it won't be the last. I may even lose followers because of this post. I've learned that this is a fact of blogging, and I'm mostly okay with that. And with Google Friend Connect possibly going away, eventually, it won't matter at all.

As a writer, I want to be validated by my readers. I want to know that what I'm writing is interesting, easy to relate to, fun to read. But at a certain point in this journey, I had to ask myself: even if I didn't receive a single comment, even if no one read my blog or my writing, would I still write?

The answer was unequivocally "YES." I would write and have written without a single reader's eyes seeing my words. I would write and have written without any followers, subscribers, or facebook friends. I would write and have written if my ever-important (please read with the sarcasm that was intended) Klout score  didn't exist.

I am forever grateful for the people whom I have connected with through social media. I am forever grateful for every reader and follower and comment. I will always be grateful that someone is willing to read my words.

But I will not be defined by any numbers or scores. I will always be me whether you like me or follow me or not. Now excuse me while I go and try to forget all my friend and follower counts, so I won't get my feelings hurt again.

Author's Note: I think we all struggle with insecurities from time to time. This is a reflection on one of my struggles. I'm not saying that I obsess over this all the time, but I would be lying to say I've never been affected by it in some way. 

Now it's your turn: how do you handle your online presence? Do you ever memorize friend counts? Or refresh a page a million times in ten minutes to see if you've gotten a new comment?

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