Weighing Numbers More Than Words: How Social Media Can Be Fake and Invasive

Weighing Numbers More Than Words: How Social Media Can Be Fake and Invasive

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.

 

Author

My passion for capturing memories through the lens of my camera, my love for food and the joy I find in reflecting on my travel memories using a pen and paper results in a series of blog entries filled with warmth, pure happiness and inspiration. I hope to share a little bit of myself and my adventure of life with you.

46 comments

  • I agree, social media gets out of hand sometimes and has way too much weight on what people define as success. Great thoughts–definitely something to think about!

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  • I feel related to most of the feelings you expressed here. I remember when I opened my twitter account like 3 months ago I didn’t understand why I got followers and then suddenly unfollowers? WTH? Then I found out people follow you and when you follow back they unfollow you. THATS BS. If I decide to follow you its because I found something interesting you are a fellow blogger, should I care that I have more following than people following me? NO! Anyways, beside that stupidity related to social media an our success, yes its sad, utterly fake and frustrating, but its the era we are living in and we have to evolve, we cannot expect things as they were before, not all changes are good but we cant avoid them, what we can do is embrace them with a different perspective, something that goes along with our beliefs. Loved reading your thoughts, thanks for sharing.

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  • I wish travel blogging was just about writing and travelling because the social media side of it drags me down…. and I don’t even do the majority of it. I kind of don’t understand the majority of it tho, neither do I have the time since (until now) I work full time anyway and barely have enough time to write and catch up on social media. Tho I like instagram, because who doesn’t like pretty pictures? :D

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  • I agree. It can be very frustrating to keep up with it all. I know it helps drive traffic to my site so it is helpful however, I hate the follow.. unfollow… situation. People follow you to be follow and then unlike you right after, It is pretty frustrating. It seems to be all about numbers!! :X Very misleading.

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  • Good food for thoughts…I agree that sometimes social media get frustrating beacuse it feels a constant competition, and they don’t seem social anymore, and I admit that sonetimes I woyld like to just forget about them… but as a blogger, I think we need to use them responsibly, without all the BS you talk about!

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  • I think with social media being a main driver in at least being able to promote an online business causes us to filter a lot of our opinions, daily lives and thoughts much more methodically because while you’re putting it out for the world to see the moment you hit send or enter. Regardless of what people say, it’s like you said, past bloggers were able to write more honestly and still find success without social media as a power tool. Of course it helped, but now unless you have a million fake followers who are not even engaging or reading your work to look like you are a super star you may not be perceived as someone to take seriously.

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  • I know exactly what you mean! We used to value our privacy a hell of a lot (and ended up sounding like guidebooks in the bargain) Now we think we’ve found a nice middle ground (although it gets a bit difficult when close friends find out about our travel plans on the blog first, before we tell them)

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  • A lot of what you say is true. I’ve been a SM renegade for a long time, and refused to get a Twitter account until I was forced to do so. I wish there was a way to keep going without having to spend hours a day on social media, but unfortunately that’s the time we live in, and it’s all part of the game. I’ve come across wonderful blogs and people on social media, so it at least the effort paid off!

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    • I just don’t have the time/refuse to spend so many hours on social media I’ve discovered . . . but you’re right it can absolutely bring to your attention some amazing fellow bloggers.

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  • I started my first blog in 2004 (damn I’m old) and kept it until 2008 when everyone started blogging and I didn’t think it was fun anymore. I didn’t delete it but it’s no longer public. I will still blog, you will still blog, regardless of numbers because you have the passion I’m sure. I don’t regret my current blog (at all), my social media numbers (they are what they are) but I understand how things can be overwhelming and get out of hand fast. Thank you for the honesty; it’s hard to find and it’s hard to put it out like this :)

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  • You have identified the vicious cycle of blogging and social media. If you spend a lot of time with social media, then you don’t have enough time to spend writing. If you don’t, then it’s hard to attract as many readers. Now if only there was an solution…

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  • I agree that social media can get out of hand. I try and focus on my writing and if someone likes what I have to say then they will follow me. We need to write for ourselves and sometimes we may forget to do that because numbers can get in the way of our passion for travel and writing about it.

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  • I completely agree with you on this one. I’ve become so frustrated and jaded by the whole social media side to blogging. The numbers games are maddening and even just keeping up with all of it is exhausting. More and more so lately I’ve been letting go of the social media stuff and just enjoying the writing. The invasiveness also freaks me out a bit too. I’m really struggling to find a balance with what I share so that it holds true to me while not being too personal. It’s tough.

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  • I completely agree. It is so much time consuming and could be pretty frustrating…But somehow you need it need it if you wanna get more traffic for you blog…:(

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  • Interesting post Alli but it does have a simple solution. You want to write and photograph as a hobby; you should do that. If pursuing those endeavors is strictly a passion you enjoy then that should be all that matters. The blogging world is a strange one in that most readers of a blog are usually, not always, bloggers themselves. The idea of likes, follows, comments reciprocated etc is a blogger on blogger effect based on unwritten rules for which there is no penalty except that your readers will whittle down to only those truly interested in what you have to say. Personally, I really like what you have to say and the way you say it. If you want it to be just a hobby then let it be just that and don’t concern yourself with the numbers…they will take care of themselves. I am old school like you and even though social media can be too much, a lot of the time, it is either the world we sign up for, or, it isn’t. The choice is yours.

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    • Thank you for the breath of fresh air, Tim! Your comment is so nice and so true. Travel blogging in particular really stems thinking about numbers/following in particular, especially when I am contacted by people and different companies all the time asking for my media kit and wanting to “work together,” etc, etc. These days I just want to write first and focus on that over everything else :)

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  • Social Media gets so crazy- especially with bloggers. I’m kinda crap with it to be honest, I love sharing my stories and experiences and that’s why I blog- I hope that it will inspire and and encourage others, although like you, I think about what I share.

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  • Social media annoys me. I feel lazy when I see all the things people are doing to get likes, followers and etc. I’d much rather focus on my pics and writing, things that I really like and that made me start blogging.

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  • I completely agree that somehow, travel writing and blogging has turned into something that goes way beyond the writing itself…it somehow becomes a social media game as well. Ways of promoting yourself to get people to visit your site. And things posted on social media seem to be read (or not read) and gone in the blink of an eye. It seems sometimes like a necessary evil to deal with. At the same time, there are great things about it…I’ve been able to connect with some wonderful people through social media, Facebook, Twitter chats, in a way that was never possible before. I’ve found out about great travel blogs this way that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. And great people! I suppose there are good things and bad things about it. Great topic to discuss!

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  • Hmm… What an interesting post. I think that it is a dilemma we all face if we use any sort of social media. You need to figure out what is the most important thing to you. Getting your story out or getting the numbers. I think it’s possible to do both but it really comes down to your focus.

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  • What a great post. I have kind of be contending with similar thoughts lately. The social media aspect lately have become rather superficial that I have considered closing down all social media outlets and just concentrate on my blog. If you are a reader then you can follow the blog posts and thats it. It also becomes rather tiresome and draining having to manage all of those just to get your blog word out there.

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    • The idea of a social media free blog is appealing to me, however as many others have pointed out, so many people prefer getting their news/updates on FB, Twitter, etc over email . . . so it can’t hurt, but I can definitely choose how much time I spend on it!

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  • Alli, this is a great post – and I feel the exact same way, although I use my blog as a personal diary for my family and friends. I also fear the, “What if my boss types my name into Google and finds my rants about XYZ location and how I cried in China,” thing – social media IS invasive, and it’s getting scarier.

    Your decisions are the only ones that matter – don’t feel pressured to do anything just because others are doing it. A HUGE pile of blogs I’ve come across brag about their achievements, constantly bombard people with stuff on Facebook/Instagram, but it’s useless. The way you do things is key – with ease and with great content, never bombarding.

    Have you tried the StayFocusd app?
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/stayfocusd/laankejkbhbdhmipfmgcngdelahlfoji?hl=en

    You can install it on your browser and it limits your activity per social media site and kicks you off when you go over. It was the starting point for me, and I now never go on Facebook or Instagram – but it’s all about knowing your limits and “needs” to go on social media for business versus just for mindless scrolling.

    Good luck with things, I hope you stay inspired with social media or without (or limited usage)! :) You’ll be fine :)

    Reply

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