Lately I have caught myself ferociously pressing the backspace button as I’ve written about personal feelings, emotions, and experiences as I write this blog. Thoughts of who could potentially end up reading my words start to fill my mind and begin to irritate me all of a sudden. “What if somehow my boss comes across this – what would he think? Colleagues? What would my family or certain friends think about this particular event in my life? People I both know and don’t know?” Even though I really don’t care what such people would think about my writing, it got me thinking.
I suddenly feel like I don’t want my life to be such an open book anymore.
This is not to say I’ve been using my blog as a personal diary, (though that’s how this blog started out). When my blog started to grow in readership, I switched from using my blog as a daily outlet for unleashing my feelings, unconcerned about who was reading my posts, assuming no one was reading them at all, to a more objective and story telling theme. I love sharing my stories and travel experiences with others, and I am as honest as I can be in my writing . . . but there is still the clear distinction of travel journaling vs. travel writing that I am careful to waver between. In the past I have let it all out through my posts, and was fine with being vulnerable and honest. Now I am finding myself becoming more guarded and less willing to share so easily.
Why have I recently been resisting this vulnerability that can be seen in many of my posts from the past? I think it has something to do with how anyone can type your name into Google, and immediately have access to all your social media, your photos . . . They can find out where you live, where you work, what you’re doing . . . and it’s starting to bother me. I don’t really enjoy the idea of anyone being able to find everything out about me at the drop of a hat. And even though I use my pen name Alli Blair, which isn’t my first and last name, rather my first and middle name, it still connects me to everything since I use it for everything, both my travel blog and my photography. So even though it isn’t my full name out there, it doesn’t make much of a difference since people still know it’s me.
Really suddenly I found myself becoming so engaged with photography, my own photography business formed. With that came the arrival of my second web site. It’s challenging managing two web sites, especially when one generates much more income than the other. I don’t want my life to revolve around either thing. I don’t want to be frantic about numbers, social media, or dollars like so many people are and how so many people measure their success. I’ve decided I just want them to be hobbies. If they happen to provide me with extra income, great. But I want them to be secondary, and me to be first.
Just like the astronomical number of travel bloggers out there, there are just as many photographers, if not more. I don’t care about being the most renowned, the most liked, the most followed. Twitter is BS to me. 10,000 followers? No way 10,000 people are reading everything you post, are your fan, or have even read one word you’ve written. It’s a numbers game, a joke. The “if I like you, then you like me” BS that goes on with not only Twitter but all social media platforms I find quite pathetic. All to gain an extra follower who you may or may not even like.
When travel writers of the past had zero social media avenues to connect with others, while still being successful, I can’t help but think how honest such a time would be. Writing was all they had. No shares, no likes, no follows, no scheduled posts. They just wrote and just words were enough. Can such a thing still exist today? Or do you need to have thousands of followers to be deemed successful? Never mind the content, look at the number of followers. I’m not a fan of this. Call me old fashioned, but I go to the library to check out books in order to feel connected with the page, print, books, book covers. Instead of squinting at a screen, or scrolling through text, I prefer turning a crinkling page and feeling words under my fingertips. I miss seeing handwriting. I miss receiving postcards. Letters. Writing with pencil and paper. Things that are becoming all too rare.
What I am trying to say is how tired I am of social media, and pretending that it’s the most driving and important factor to measure success. I find it tiresome how easy your personal life can be invaded through social media, and how open everyone seems to their life being so easily accessed and flipped through. Someone once asked me if I knew my Instagram account was private. Yes, I did. Again, I find it strange how some people are so open to having anyone and everyone scroll through their life so easily.
So today can you be a truly “successful” travel blogger without a mass of followers on social media? Without social media at all? Have you ever seen it? I haven’t.
Even though it has so many benefits with connecting with others, social media can be so fake and artificial. It can be so invasive. And it’s starting to bother me. People are weighing numbers more seriously than words and content. How do I rectify this? Get rid of my social media accounts? Stop associating them with this blog? And what does it mean for my future in travel blogging? In writing?
I’m not sure yet.