There’s a tenacious social movement most of us participate in.
It’s called approval tracking. People post pictures on Instagram and take down a post if it doesn’t reach fifty likes in an hour. People tweet and tweet, expending so much energy, in order to feel socially accepted.
People are so invested in these social games. And really, that’s what they are — they are social games. As Seth Godin put it, these companies give you a currency to play with, likes and followers, and you can improve yourself in this game. You can become a highly followed, highly liked person — but remember that it is still just a game.
Now, while you think about how invested people become in approval tracking with relatively low-effort websites like Twitter, think about people who try and contribute in a more ambitious way. The people who own blogs, like this one, or the people who have a band and track the amount of people that come to their websites and buy cds.
The problem with the ubiquitousness of this approval tracking software is that you can start blogging with the best of intentions, and then fade once your posts don’t get any traffic.
Or if your posts do get traffic, then it’s very easy to get carried away with the importance of your work. You’re just writing, on a keyboard, trying to share with people what you know best.
Sometimes you just want to write — and if your head starts becoming distorted with these numbers (page views, subscribers, newsletter recipients) then you can very quickly stop focusing on the quality of your work and start thinking about how good you must have been to get to this prestigious position.
The solution? Don’t look at the data page WordPress gives you if you blog on WordPress. If you have a website, don’t constantly track the traffic that you get. If you’re insistent on keeping a social media account like Instagram, only post the pictures that you truly love. And disable notifications that send you a like count.
It’s very easy to become reliant on the dopamine-hits you get from every like: take yourself out of the equation. Stop focusing on the approval you get for every digital action and start asking yourself this question: Do I really believe in what I’m saying/posting/doing?