On Blogging, Popularity Contests & Why I QUIT!
Last night I received an email telling me I'm up for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mental Wellness Blogs. You'd think that would make me happy, but it didn't really. In fact, I immediately felt sad once I understood what was involved.
I've been blogging for seven years now (Postpartum Progress' 7th anniversary is in July - wahoo!), and to be honest I'm completely over contests in which you get named the best in some area of social media because you were able to get the most people to vote for you. Websites create contests like these for one reason: to drive traffic. They tell you that you're up for some award, and that the way to win is to send everyone you know to their site -- not yours -- to vote for you. What's more, they want you to send people to their site to vote EVERY DAY. Not just once, but over and over and over. I guess this must increase their traffic enough that they become more attractive to advertisers.
I'm announcing publicly that I'm not going to do that. Just not going to. It's silly. No. More. I quit.
What good does it do for me to drive friends and family and people I hardly know up the wall so that some other website can get a lot of traffic? What have I been doing?! Everyone I know who has to beg for votes is uncomfortable the entire time they are doing it. So why do we do it?
While I think the other Top Mental Wellness nominees are very deserving and I support them being recognized 100%, I really wish that organizations would just recognize them for their work PERIOD, without requiring them or me to hustle ourselves for votes. Why not just point out what great work people are doing and leave it at that? And I'm not calling out Circle of Moms for doing this, because they are just doing what everyone else is doing.
While I'm at it, I also refuse to drive everyone crazy trying to get more "clout" at places like Klout. While I appreciate the fact that Klout recognizes I have some influence with my particular audience, I have zero plans to spend every day all day tweeting just so that I can increase my clout. That doesn't help me help women with postpartum depression, which is my mission. To get more social media clout, I'd need to tweet nonstop, get as many people as possible to follow me on Twitter regardless of whether they care about women's mental health, get them to talk to me as much as possible, etc. That's not what Twitter is about to me. It's about being able to have authentic conversations and engage with people in a very easy way, and I love it. I want it to stay that way.
Sorry, but I'm not going to stay up all night blogging and tweeting and Facebooking. I'm not going to take my phone to bed with me so that I can continue tweeting into the night. In fact, my smartphone has never entered my bedroom. Ever. That's where I sleep, not where I try to conquer the world by staying up past what is a healthy bedtime for me so that I can ratchet up higher numbers. Honestly, I cannot let myself be tricked into thinking that if I give up rest, or down time, or time when I'm not social media-ing myself to death I'll somehow become rich and famous and beloved by the world. I just want to talk to you, the person reading this right now. I like you and want to know you and am so glad you are here. That's what matters to me.
I love blogging. I love bloggers. I love social media people. I love the internet. I love what we are able to do, that our words can stretch across thousands of miles to make someone else feel understood and supported. I love that we are able to use our voices, and that no one can take that away from us. That's amazing.
I also love when the work I do is recognized based on merit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. It would be no fun to sit at your computer hour after hour, day after day, and never hear from a single soul that what you are doing is having some impact with at least somebody. I was so proud to become a WebMD Health Hero in 2008, and to be recognized as among the top ten depression sites by Psych Central, and to win the Bloganthropy Award last year, because those things were based on merit. It meant a group of judges who knew my work, and knew intimately the arena in which I do that work, felt it was good enough to be recognized in some way. This makes me proud. It gives me an opportunity to talk to new audiences about the cause of women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and makes me eager to strive towards becoming way way way better at what I do.
I rarely feel good when the work I do is recognized based on the number of votes I am able to gin up. I don't want to have to beg you to "Pick me! Pick me! Have you voted for me yet? Huh?! Have you?!" I don't want to have to outmaneuver fellow women bloggers I respect and care about.
So, I say thank you, truly, to Circle of Moms for recognizing that I am a decent Mental Wellness blogger. It's nice to be on the list. I say to my fellow 24 nominees that you are all wonderful, and different, and special in your own right and it doesn't matter whether you are #1 or #25 or #50 because you are helping people and being courageous. I honor you for it and I wish others would honor you for your work alone, and not for which of you has the best get-out-the-vote campaign. You deserve better than that. And finally, I say this: don't vote for me.
You will no longer see me asking for votes for these various contests. I can't do it anymore. It tires me. It's soul sucking. I'm not going to do it. If someone recognizes what I do at Postpartum Progress for the impact it has on mothers and families, or for innovative ideas, or for the writing, or for positively affecting mental health or reducing stigma, I will share it with you for sure, but as for the rest of it ... I quit.
Katherine Stone is the founder & editor of the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression, Postpartum Progress, and is a weekly parenting columnist at ParentDish. You can follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprogr. Oh, and please be sure NOT to vote for her.
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