"I am so happy for you!" Sometimes we say these words honestly, our entire being buzzing with excitement for the other person, and sometimes we say these words while quietly thinking in our head: why them and not me? Why do they have an average of 89 comments on any given post when I only have 10? Why did they make that best of blogs list and I didn't? How do they collect so many Twitter followers when my numbers stay exactly the same day-to-day?
The online world is ripe for insecurities and jealousy, mostly because there are so many opportunities to not only measure yourself, but to measure yourself against others since the numbers are easily obtainable. In the face-to-face world, it may appear as if someone has a lot more friends than I do, but we don't really have a sense of another person's social circle. Whereas online, we can go to any person's Twitter account, any person's Facebook account, and see the number of people in their circle; the reach of their influence. We can see how many people like their posts or pin their images. The online world is a massive numbers game.
This isn't a post reminding you that everyone starts out small because, frankly, it's not true.
I've seen people start with five readers and years later, they still have five readers. And I once saw someone who kicked out of the starting gate with hundreds of readers. How the hell did all of these people find her blog on the first post? Who knows and who cares? I think we all know that the blogging world mirrors the face-to-face world: not everyone with hard work and talent gets recognized, and some undeserving people somehow manage rise to the top.
Instead of telling you to buck up buttercup, this is a bit of tough love.
Get over your blogging jealousy this December.
Instead of becoming a Scrooge McDuck, counting your blog followers (and falling into a pit of depression when someone unsubscribes), step back and give yourself the gift of not caring this holiday season. Take a week off from checking your Sitemeter, turn off any apps that tell you when someone unfollows you, and don't -- under any circumstances -- look at any other person's follower numbers. When someone else is crowing about the fact that they've been nominated in some end-of-the-year list or asked to speak at a blogging conference, give them a polite thumbs up and then go do your favourite thing online: whatever that may be. For me, it's going through my Google Reader. For you, it may be writing a post.
And don't lie and say your favourite online activity is to count your followers; that's cheating.
The side effect of online jealousy is that it turns possible friends into frenemies. Comparisons are how people declare another person their blogging nemesis. And it breeds unhealthy and unrealistic expectations, destroying self-esteem when you set goals that are not under your control, but which involve other people who may or may not show up to read your posts or tweets in the way you'd like them to. Just as jealousy affects your face-to-face friendship as well as how you feel about yourself, it does the same thing to your time in the online world.
The truth is that everyone feels envy -- from the most popular bloggers to the smallest bloggers. And the other truth is that we don't need to feel it. We can choose to set aside those comparisons for a month.
So be kind to yourself and gift yourself with your favourite online activities for the month of December... and none of the ones that bring you down.
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