...and I'm a blogaholic.
(your cue: Hello, Heather...)
Seriously, y'all, blogging is so much more than a passing fancy to me now. Back in March, when I staked my claim on this little corner of the blogosphere, I thought it would be a fun, occasional thing with which to occupy my time. I'd been regularly following a handful of blogs - some for years now, mostly belonging to friends with whom I had a preexisting relationship. You know, people I already knew who had started blogs of their own. I thought it would be fun to start my own blog, maybe share some laughs or thoughts or ramblings (as we all know, I'm really good at rambling) with my friends the way they'd been sharing with me. I've belonged to some message boards and private internet groups for years now, going back to when Hubby and I were starting the adoption process, and blogging seemed a natural extension of my online "life" (I feel the need to use quotes there to distinguish from my REAL life....) And narcissistically speaking, doesn't the world want to know my most navel-gazing of thoughts? My feelings on parenting, current events, life and George Clooney? Hmmmm?
I should've realized right away how very dangerous this blogging thing would be for me. It started, innocently enough, with the addition of a site meter to my blog. 'Cause, if you blog and no one is reading, did the post happen? (You know, like if a tree falls in the woods....) Then, I became a wee bit obsessed with the number of hits daily to my site. If it went over ten, I flipped out. MORE THAN TEN PEOPLE checked out my blog? Woot! I started checking out my site meter info first thing each morning when I turned on my computer. I tried not to "sully" the number of hits by actually visiting my page, because *I* don't count. Yes, I was avoiding my own blog, just lurking about in the background, working through my Dashboard.
That validation was enough at first, that simple knowledge that somewhere out there, someone was stopping by my blog. At first. Soon, I wanted more. "If I'm getting twelve or thirteen (or on a good day, TWENTY *faint*) hits a day, why am I only getting one or two comments (usually from my established friends)?" I thought to myself. "Why aren't more people commenting?" And there it is, the warning sign I think my fellow bloggers recognize: I was becoming a comment junkie. I'd pore over my site meter's stats, looking for repeat visitors - lurkers who'd never left a comment. I agonized over my posts, editing and tweaking them, polishing them 'til they shone, hoping that if I wrote just the right thing in just the right way, my comments section would fill up. I created a favicon and a button for my page that folks could add to theirs if they so desired (and I don't think anyone has yet!) I added widgets to dress my blog up. I changed my layout. I scanned the referral site info on my site meter - what places were bringing eyeballs to my page? Where were my viewers coming from and did they come back again?
It was around this time that I came across a web community called The Secret is in the Sauce. That is the point at which my blogging addiction become life threatening. Okay, not life threatening, but definitely housework threatening. I mean, who has time for such things as scrubbing soap scum off the shower walls when there are blogs to be read? (And it isn't just SITS, either, there are other sites out there, like Blog Around the World, and communities like BlogCatalog and Blogher. Whew.) SITS led me to blog after wonderful blog. My bookmarks menu (yes, I was a blog reading Luddite - I had no blog reader) was longer than Rapunzel's hair. Not only was I finding a new blog each morning via their daily Featured Blog, but I'd read all the roll call comments, click on the profiles of commenters who'd written funny or witty or meaningful comments, then browse their blogs. Of course, then I wasn't just reading blog posts, but the comments on those blog posts, and then continuing with the clicking through to profiles of commenters, going to their blogs, reading their posts and their comments and so on and so on and so on.
You know this vicious circle, right? I know some of you out there do...
There is yet another level to this, sort of like the chaser to the blogging. Twitter. A whole new place to post and read. Twitter is like a mini-blog or like Facebook's status updates on speed. There is the added challenge of only having 140 characters per Tweet, too - kills extra time when you have to edit creatively to get your thought into 140 characters! Of course, Twitter just feeds into the ultimate (at least, as far as I've sunk as of now) level of blogging obsession:
Oh, how I long to go back to the day when getting a comment or three was enough. When seeing that I had more than 10 hits on my blog after a new post went up. Because now, I want it ALL. I have followers, but not that many. I see some blogs with dozens and even hundreds of followers. And Twitter is even crazier - there are people with thousands of followers. I can barely keep up with the dozen or so I follow! And yes, I admit, I want more followers. Right now, I have seven. Seven lovely folks out there who admit to publicly following my blog. What I wouldn't give for twenty, or fifty, or even a THREE-FIGURE number of followers!
Will it ever be enough?
So, to sum up, the dangers of blogging include:
- an unhealthy obsession with your site meter/counter
- Blogger Envy: when you discover a new blog that you adore, but at the same time, are more than a teensy bit jealous that this blogger writes wittier, funnier, deeper or just plain better posts than you do. Also extends to those with better blog layouts (in my case, likely because they have actually spent real money to have a professional design their blog layout) and those who are competent with Photoshop and post hilarious illustrations along with their writing.
- a Commenting Addiction, which can happen both ways: not only can you become easily addicted to bloggers' crack (aka comments) and not only feel the rush of elation when you have many, many new comments (like those glorious days when my blog was featured on SITS and BATW), but the subsequent crash when you have no new comments. This ties into
- New Post Despair, when you publish a new post and it garners few or no comments. You begin to second-guess yourself, to worry - am I not smart enough? Funny enough? Meaningful enough? Too self-absorbed? Too rambly?
-Follower Addiction: when it just isn't enough to watch your site counter climb, but you want actual, true, professed followers and that number can't ever be high enough either!
There are those Mythical Ones, those bloggers who either get paid to blog (well enough to make a living at it, even) or who get the fabled Book Offer (with decently sized advance) to gather their bloggings into an actual book. I try not to think about them, because that will just lead me to crawl into bed and cry, and if I were hiding in bed, I wouldn't be able to blog! Well, at least not unless I had a laptop, anyhow...
Oh, and I ought to mention, I finally did start a blog reader. I just did the one through Blogger, so it isn't fancy, but at least it is streamlining my blog reading. Also, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get Google Analytics to work for my blog. I need to hit Hubby up for help with that one - or else just content myself with my free site meter. And, to show you the ultimate evidence that I'm a blogaholic? Blogger was being funky yesterday for a while, not allowing comments to publish. This occurred during my morning blogsurfing, and I got so frustrated with not being able to post comments on the blogs I was reading that I created a Word document and SAVED the comments so I could go back and post them on the appropriate blog later. Yep, like I said, my name is Heather and I'm a blogaholic!