The Unclimactic Climax
I unfollowed a blog the other day.
It was an excellent writer’s blog. Frequent updates of a very high quality, including a system to showcase old content that was still relevant but potentially new to many of the readers.
It was witty, entertaining, and it gave superb advice.
Unfortunately, I never once left it feeling fired up and excited to write.
I ALWAYS left it with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling of shame and worthlessness and hopelessness.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
It took me a very long time to realize what was happening because the blog itself is intended to help writers.
It must be me, I said to myself. His advice isn’t wrong. For example, I SHOULD write every day if I actually want to be a writer.
So I told myself the problem was with me rather than with his blog. That it was my failings as a writer that needed fixing. That I couldn’t turn away from the ugly truth just because I didn’t want to hear it. The very fact that I felt guilt when I read his advice was proof enough that I had something I knew I was doing wrong.
It’s Not Your Life, It’s Mine
So here’s the thing.
It doesn’t matter if he gave good advice.
He wasn’t giving good advice FOR ME.
I should have stopped following him months ago. Not only was I not his target audience, I was the opposite. I was the lazy wannabe writer he so often impaled on the sharpness of his wit.
I was reading because I thought it would make me a better writer but in truth all I was doing was hurting myself.
He didn’t lie or falsely advertise his blog.
HE TOLD ME HE WAS HOLDING A SPEAR. It’s hardly his fault I kept blindly running forward and stabbing myself with it.
His readership wants his message. Needs it. Theoretically, it is helping them hone their writing edge.
I Need Something Else
I want to spend my time on things that elevate me. Things that inspire me and make me feel good about writing. Things that make me think “hey, I could do that,” or “that’s a great idea, I should try that.”
I know that not all writing is rainbows and unicorns. I know that it’s often a slog. I know that selling a book is a combination of luck and skill that I can never guarantee.
I know, I know, I know.
So I don’t need to keep rubbing my face in it. It doesn’t help me any more than it does a dog or cat making a mess on the carpet.
I need positive reinforcement.
I mention it to you because I realized what I was doing and I want you to stop and think about the social media YOU consume.
Granted, my example is writing related, but you’re not all writers here. You probably ARE all folks who wade in the complex, foggy miasma of the InterWebs.
Do you have blogs that you follow out of a sense of obligation or duty?
Do you have content you read that riles you up in a bad way, that angers or sickens or disgusts you on the regular?
Is it affecting your well-being throughout the day? Is it affecting your pleasure in activities you used to enjoy? Is your reaction to it affecting your friends or family?
Then my suggestion is … maybe stop hate reading.
Maybe stop reading things that make you feel hate.
YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
The world is out there and as an American citizen who Can See The Shit Happening, I know how easy it is to fall down several different kinds of awful, horrible, wells.
I know how easy it is to feel like you HAVE to read it. You HAVE to expose yourself to this awfulness because if you don’t, you’re just deliberately being ignorant.
Just because you aren’t deliberately diving into a river of sewage daily in order to Make Yourself A Better Person, that doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant of what’s happening and that you can’t or shouldn’t do the right thing.
Find Your Warriors
There are people out there who THRIVE on this. There are people for whom it isn’t hate reading. They are our warriors, our defenders, our champions. I salute them and I depend upon them.
I try to find those people and read what they share and listen to what they have to say, because I am trying to find a balance somewhere between burying my head in the sand and caring so much I shred the heart on my sleeve daily.
I pick my battles based on my energy levels and the things around me. I vote with my money. I vote with my vote. I don’t back down when “mild” racism or misogyny crop up in my life. (Well, I try. I’m not even close to perfect, but I am making an effort).
Honor those on the front line fighting the battles you cannot.
And Unfollow The Rest
Everyone has a different limit. For me, that particular writing blog was having the opposite effect on me – I associated writing with failure, which is just about the worst thing that could have happened to my productivity.
(Sorry, the blog was encroaching on politics there, so I’m wrapping it up. I’m not interested in preaching to a choir OR a lively round of sea-lioning from anyone looking to spark a debate.)
I just … I want everyone to drop any burdens they don’t need. If you can lighten your mental and emotional load, please consider doing it.