Bloggers and Narcissism
July 18, 2013 by Stephanie O'Dea
This is part of the Business of Blogging Series. You can see all of the posts, here.
I’ve done a bit of speaking this summer at various conferences, and I’ve said a few times to the audience (and been met with great laughs), “Let’s face it. Bloggers are narcissistic.”
While I do love laughter responses, I’m completely serious when I say that in order to be a good blogger, or to put yourself out in the public eye, you’ve got to have a part of your personality that believes that You Are Better Than Others.
and this is a challenge. It’s a struggle for me, and I know it’s a struggle for many of my friends. It feels wrong, it feels fraudulent, and it feels deceitful to decide when you wake up in the morning that you are going to make and write about THE WORLD’S BEST BEEF STEW.
or the best way to fold a fitted sheet.
or write about a completely ordinary trip to Walmart but in a way you just *know* your readers will appreciate.
or heaven help you, post a #selfie on instagram.
I wasn’t raised to seek the spotlight, I was raised to sit quietly with my hands folded while the grown-ups talked and not to interrupt. And that is how I’m raising my children. Nobody likes a know-it-all who interrupts. Blogging is about interrupting.
DID YOU HEAR ME?
gah. It’s loud, it’s annoying, and it feels icky.
So what do you do? How do you balance the self-doubt, the negative voices, and the twingy feeling that you are doing something wrong when you decide to put your heart and voice online?
I can tell you that it gets easier, but I can also tell you that I personally stress and analyze every time I write anything online. This is the list I weigh in my head before posting (on any of my sites, on facebook, on twitter, and even on pinterest)
1) How does this help my audience? (and helpful can just be a feel-good moment. there doesn’t need to be a lifelesson in everything you put online, nor does it have to be a how-to tutorial.)
2) Am I writing this only because so-and-so has written about (kale) a lot and I feel like in order to stay relevant I need to write about (kale)?
3) Am I jumping on the bandwagon about a certain event that has a lot of drama and I want people to link to me when they, too, write about this certain event?
4) [related to #3] am I stirring an already-bubbling pot? Is that what I want to be known for? Pot-stirring?
5) In 3 days, will I still be proud of my writing?
6) Am I writing this because I’m getting paid to write about it (like a sponsored post)? Have I told my audience this truth?
7) Will my writing be search-engine-friendly? If not, how can I massage my words to help with SEO?
8) and then back again to #1…. am I being helpful to my audience?
If you respect your audience, they will respect you.
If you jump in front of the
camera keyboard every single time any fleeting thought passes through your head, you might gain lots and lots of followers initially, but they will leave in the longrun. Build a lasting legacy — something that you enjoy, that you can see yourself working on as your life’s work.
As for the negative thoughts? Embrace them. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe you are posting too often, and without anything valuable to offer your readers. Maybe you are only tweeting 7 times a day because some expert told you that’s how many times a day you should tweet. Maybe you are solely only writing about the latest conference drama because you want to be in the spotlight and want to be someone “in the know.”
and if after some soul-searching you realize that you don’t like your current path, then tweak it a bit.
But don’t let the voices win. We ALL have something to offer. We are all on this life-living journey together, and we all have something to share and to teach. Differing perspectives are fantastic — that is how we, as readers, as humans, make decisions. That’s why we read Amazon reviews — our culture needs to know as much as possible about pretty much everything right now. Right this instant. We can’t even wait to get home to our desktop, we have to whip out our phones in the middle of the store and tweet a picture to the masses to see if these shoes are actually a good buy.
This is a great time to be writing online. Do not let self-doubt or shyness prevail. Yes, bloggers are inherently narcissistic. We have to be.
And that’s okay. Just make sure to acknowledge it.