The Numbers Game

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Ever since I started writing for elephant journal almost 4 months ago, I’ve been waiting for one of my pieces to reach the magic number that would catapult it into the Popular Lately category. I’d compulsively refresh the page throughout the day to see how many views each article had, eventually seeing the numbers stagnate shy of that magic number.

Then it happened. Yesterday this piece seemed to really connect with people and I saw the numbers steadily climb and I was so excited and then, there it was, on the front page under “Popular Lately.”

I’d done it.

Yay!

Then what happened?

Well, first this: I saw other articles which higher numbers. Much higher numbers. And that bummed me out. And made me question myself. Even though I had just accomplished the goal I had set for myself. I didn’t even give myself time ( a mere minute) to enjoy that accomplishment before longing for higher numbers. More, more, more.

So, there was that.

Then what happened?

Well, nothing.

It was cool, for sure. I was honored and grateful that my piece had resonated with so many people. I mean, that’s why I write, right? To connect. To have my words move even one person.

But, as I’d found myself checking the numbers over and over I wondered if that was true. Did I really only care if only one person was affected. My actions seemed to go against that premise. My actions seemed to suggest something slightly less altruistic: the more the better.

That got me thinking. What did more views really mean to me? The more views, the more poplar I was? The more views, the more liked I was? The more views, the better of a writer I was?

Then I started thinking about all the ways we measure our success on-line: Facebook likes and shares and comments. Blog subscribers and comments. Twitter favorites and retweets. Pinterest likes and repins.

It’s like we are reducing our society to the social dynamics of  junior high all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I hated junior high.

So….what does this all mean?

I’m trying to build a writer’s platform so I need to be part of the social media scene—a scene I actually enjoy. I enjoy connecting with people beyond my own small circle, connecting with other creative people all trying to share their words and stories. I enjoy being part of this on-line tribe of creatives.

I guess what this all means is that I need to stay mindful as I continue to put my work out there. Do my work, put it out there, help it make its way into the world then put my head down and work some more.

My hope is to have a book published and there are so many ways to measure a book’s success that I can’t let myself get caught up in the numbers game.

Sure, numbers mean something but they can’t mean everything.

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