Hey, Jealousy: Every Blogger Was a Newbie Once
Today's topic: Jealousy in the blogosphere. Or envy, feeling left out, whatever emotion you want to add to it.
I am not the first to write about this. I’m not the second, tenth or probably even the eleventyhundredth to type out my thoughts and feelings about blogging jealousy. I am also pretty sure that many people have written about it far more eloquently than I am about to.
I need to because a reader sent this to me, and it really touched me because I can relate to a lot of it.
I hope this doesn’t come off as mean, but I am eaten alive by jealousy of your blog and other big bloggers. You have so many friends and so much traffic and I even though I check your blog almost obsessively, I also have so much envy that I am beginning to think it is unhealthy.
I try to comment on blogs and still only have a reader or two. You’ve never commented on my blog and while I understand that you have a lot going on, I still get hurt, but then I feel like a pouty kid on the school bus and am ashamed. I’m actually crying here. How stupid is that?
It seems like so many people I read have success after success while I try but seem to fail. I expect it from some of the snarkier bloggers.
I can’t even seem to get the attention of the nice bloggers.
You aren’t the only one that I am talking about, but you are the place where I can vent this anonymously and get it off of my chest.
I really admire you and think that your blog is wonderful. I hope that this didn’t come off as too mean, I am just having a hard day.
I felt for this commenter. So many feel this way, and it can really start to eat at you and sour your online life. It got me thinking about my own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy that I struggle with. There are a few salient points that I would like to talk about, if you don’t mind.
Having traffic doesn’t make negative feelings like inadequacy magically disappear.
I doubt that there are many bloggers out there who would label themselves as “popular,” and I certainly don’t classify myself as that. I am very aware that I have awesome and loyal readers and commenters AND I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR IT, but it doesn’t mean that I am not critical about myself. On those down days when I overanalyze everything I start writing “The List” of things that are negative.
I could go on and on and ON about the things that I think I am inadequate at or have been excluded from that good friends have been privileged to enjoy. And it stings and sucks sometimes. I am so genuinely excited and thrilled because all of them truly deserve it, but I am human and want to participate, too.
When I first joined BlogHer in 2006, everyone was at the height of conference excitement. Even though I was happy for those going I also wanted to make badges that said, “I’m NOT going to BlogHer, and you all can just BITE ME!”
I hated that I wasn’t going and hated how jealous I felt of those who jetted off to Chicago. So, I made a plan. I worked and saved. I reached out to people that were going. I did everything I could to prepare. That doesn't mean that it was not without trial, but I was DETERMINED to have an amazing time despite the situations that can sometimes flare up when you put 1,500 bloggers together. I wanted to have an amazing experience. And I did. It was one of the best times I have ever had, and it was more so because I worked so hard to make it happen.
The best that we can do as bloggers is to realize that EVERYONE has feelings of negativity, jealousy, inadequacy, the key is to try to make those turn into motivation and to not let them keep us from our goals.
Most bloggers have many more failures than successes. Also, don’t take it for granted that awesome things just “happen” to bloggers. You may not know the full story.
I fail much more than I succeed. Not that I haven’t had some successes with blogging, I have. I've had speaking opportunities, been in media and even got invited to The White House. These are huge accomplishments that I recognize are not going to happen to everyone, and I am grateful that I got to experience them. I am proud of the things I have achieved. I would be sad if I hadn’t, because I invest a lot of time and energy into it.
I get rejected all the time.
Let me repeat that in case you weren't listening: I GET REJECTED ALL THE TIME.
There could be loads of reasons for it, and I could drive myself crazy at wondering why, so I just don’t. Or I try very hard not to.
And while the Twitter and online world is full of people who get trips, opportunities and jobs, do NOT assume that a magical Internet fairy descended and plopped the opportunity in their lap. That DOES happen a lot of the time, but many, many times it is the result of a blogger asking or creating the opportunity for themselves.
And as things are wont to do, it could be that through that reaching out, they were put on lists of PR and marketing people as a blogger who is good to work with and other opportunities spring from that.
Bloggers are human. (Even the really popular ones.)
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day to work with. Everyone has varying levels of time that they can put into blogging, and despite the fact that you may read every syllable that a blogger publishes or even e-mail them or tweet them to death, you can’t know the hows or whys that go into why or why not someone does or does not read you or comment on your blog.
I used to read and comment on the blogs of everyone who commented on Looney Tunes because at the time I was capable of managing it. I am sad that is no longer the case. I may and I may not read you. I can’t read everyone as much as I GENUINELY would love to, even if it was just to make everyone feel as happy as I do when someone reads me.
I think that I am like a lot of people who blog. I have different, mostly unknown, reasons why I read the blogs that I do. I also change them frequently and lurk much, much more than I used to. After thinking and pondering blogging balance and how to achieve it for a long time and logging in to my Google reader and seeing THOUSANDS of unread posts, I did something radical and DELETED IT.
It has had good and bad points.
Like many bloggers out there, so much of it is just an issue of time. I have had to cut way back on my online stuff to tend to in my real life stuff. I always feel so bad when people feel neglected, and I need to stress that I try my best. I can fall short at multitasking things like e-mails, comment response and even thanking people for the things that they do and send me. Boo on me! Truly, though ... I don’t mean to hurt anyone and I truly, truly AM thankful.
I think most people online feel the same way, some are just better (or more able) to express it often.
Every blogger out there was a “newbie” once.
Not having readers can suck a duck. Some people really are fine with it and either turn off comments or just find an inner peace that they truly write for themselves. (I am not one of those people.)
However, with some exceptions, pretty much all bloggers start at the same place. Where you have no readers except for a handful of people that you have to force/bribe/promise your firstborn to to get them to read your blog. I went months and months with my sister being my only reader. Hell, even Dooce started out talking about a carton of Carnation milk, and I am pretty sure that no one was clamoring to read THAT post when she hit the publish button.
Everyone was a "Conference Newbie," too. So, if you are gearing up to attend your first BlogHer or social media event or party, whatever ... you aren't alone.
All of this can be scary, but look around you. Hundreds of thousands of people have all started out and forged ahead and YOU CAN, TOO!
It’s human to want to be noticed by people you admire.
I am not going to lie and pretend that I am not thrilled to my very tip tippie toes when a blogger I admire that has a big following actually notices that I exist. I wish that I could say that I am immune to it, but I would totally be lying due to the fact that just this morning I ran in circles like a rabid dog on meth screeching, “She likes me! She likes me!!” when a huge blogger who I adore (and thought maybe, MAYBE might have my name ring a bell when I tackled her at BlogHer and that I want to totally make out with on a regular basis) wrote me an e-mail telling me that she loves my blog despite just being a lurker.
(She obviously doesn’t mind humungo run-on sentences and over abundant use of parenthesis.)
I realize this may look like bragging, and I don’t mean it to be. I would not mention it at all except to illustrate the point that I can totally be a star-struck DORK when it comes to people whose work I admire.
All bloggers are not equal, despite what the fairy tale says. You may never get to be one of the A-listers. And to survive and keep blogging you have to be ok with this to some degree.
The words and writings of some bloggers carry more weight in the blogosphere. That is just reality, friends. It doesn’t mean that as a person they are worth more than others, but I can’t make the blogging world into a Marxist fairy tale where all bloggers have the same status.
There ARE bloggers that are AWESOME and they have masses of people who read them that think the same thing. To pretend that there are not “A-listers” out there is as stupid as thinking that they are all condescending writers that are incapable of paying attention to people that don’t have equal readerships.
There are ALSO some bigger blogs that are popular, and I really have no idea why or how that happens. I chalk it up to everyone having different tastes.
This is just a reality that everyone has to come to grips with and find a way to deal with it in their own way, or you will make yourself miserable. You may not end up being an A-lister or have thousands of hits and fans on your blog, but I promise that if you persevere, you can take away so many positive things from being a blogger.
Just don't give up.
It will probably never be enough. At least some of the time.
Humans are not meant to be stagnant -- very few can stay in one place without continuing to reach or strive to other levels. Blogging is no exception. If you have a 100 readers, at some point you will probably want 200. If you get 20 comments on a post, you will aim to get 50. This is not a bad thing. Having goals is good. It makes people grow and succeed.
Like most things, just try to keep it in check, because you also want to be happy where you are and have fun.
There is downside to popularity.
Your mother was right about that. With more traffic and exposure comes, well … more traffic and exposure. You have more obligations, more people to care about, to worry over, to e-mail, to read, more haters, trolls, and people who can be so fugly and suckass in their comments it would make your eyes bleed and your skin fall off from the ugliness of them.
Your words can be mocked and patronized. You can make people so damn angry over the slightest comment or opinion. It can get ugly to the point that you are scared to write ANYTHING and agonize before hitting the publish button for fear of who you will piss off.
The bigger you are, the more weight your words carry and the ramifications of an opinion and how you state them can be effing HUGE.
Friends and family can get hurt or irritated or angry, and sometimes it can get to the point that you don’t recognize who you are writing about because you feel like you can’t write about ANYTHING for fear of fallout.
It isn’t fun. No, not at all.
Luckily, this isn’t constant, and most people learn to suck it up and deal and create boundaries pretty damn fast about what they are comfortable writing about.
Still, be careful what you wish for.
At some point, Loralee will run out of finger strength, lose her balance and fall off the soap box, or just get to the damn point and finish this post already.
The point of all this VERY LONG rambling is that we are all in this together, and you aren’t alone. Everyone has jealousy. It is to what level you allow it to reach and what you do with it that matters. Just don’t let it get out of hand. Take action, do what you can to remedy the situation, talk to people about it! If you are having jealousy to the point of it really causing problems, that sucks. Mainly for you, because that is the person it will ultimately hurt the most.
“The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.” -William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693.