2020 Begins

January 3, 2020

I have now been blogging for eight years. I have posted every week, without exception, usually (but not always) on Fridays.

There have been a lot of ups and downs. When Facebook was at its heyday, I got a lot of traffic from there. Then Facebook changed its algorithms, making it harder to drive interest to a website.

I adjusted, and my traffic moved up again.

Three years ago, a marketing genius at Moon Books suggested my platform needed a single completely integrated website, not a separate blog and main site. It took over six months, since it was a major overhaul, but I did it. Traffic dropped substantially.

But over time, visitors increased again.

This year, mid-September, visits to my blog decreased 75% and stayed there, and I’m trying to figure out what happened. I assumed initially that my recent subjects weren’t as interesting to other people, or that my photos weren’t so good as in the past, or that my posts were too short or too long or not as good. But it’s more than that.

So I’m rethinking this again.

One of the hardest things about blogging, that I’ve found, is that you have to keep promoting your blog. Even many core visitors won’t return automatically, but see on social media that you’ve posted again or are otherwise reminded of your presence. Competition for online attention is fierce and becoming more fierce.

The second hardest thing about blogging is that it doesn’t necessarily drive book sales. People who read a lot of books don’t spend huge amounts of time online. I get the most traffic (here and on Twitter) when I blog about something that has political resonance, and I limit the amount of political writing I do. I’m just not interested in becoming a political blogger. I have that in common with Henry David Thoreau, who only really wanted to write about nature and birds, but got a huge amount of attention (than and now) for a little tract called Civil Disobedience. He didn’t even invent the concept; he only described and defined it well.

So I’m examining why there was a precipitous dropoff that seems to be ongoing. Moon Books stopped promoting my blogposts on Twitter about that time, so that might be the culprit. I could have been getting traffic through a link on another site, and somebody removed the link, maybe when redesigning their site or maybe because I wrote something they disagreed with. A lot of people have voluntarily moved off Twitter in the past year for their censorship policies directed toward feminists, so maybe the answer is to disengage from Twitter in favor of another hangout, just as moving from Facebook to Twitter years ago redirected my audience. I think blogs in general may be less popular than they used to be. There are more online magazines, and they are well promoted, savvy to continually evolving user tastes.

I may also have to consider whether blogging might be a poor use of my time, time better spent writing books and articles for online magazines and anthologies. I may need to choose whether to direct my energies into becoming a better self promoter (not my strong suit) or a better writer. The best self promoters, in my observation, are emotionally insecure people who strive constantly to get people to like them and stroke their egos and give them positive reinforcement. They work at it everyday, from an early age. They love social media and curry favor by pandering whatever opinion is popular. Obviously I can’t change my personality, nor do I want to.

So I’m at a turning point. I may adjust and throw myself into getting my “hits” up again, or I may take a step back and ask myself “Why?” One thing I will continue to do is keep the website. With ever increasing censorship of feminists, for dumber and dumber reasons, I can’t afford to invest too much in social media presence.

I think in 2020 there’s going to be a splintering of social media traffic, moving away from giants like Twitter and Facebook into smaller fee-paid social media groups. The media companies did it to themselves, by profiting from fake news and buying into cancel culture. The Internet as a whole may be at a turning point, not just me.

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling: Another vlog post

September 4, 2015

Venus is stationary and about to go direct, so maybe that’s why social media has been unusually crazy lately. Here’s my short take on it.

Easier to trash than to confront
Easy to assume bad motives
Easy to assume stupidity
Hard to trust that women have made choices based on experience and reflection
Don’t trust women don’t trust women trust women to have made decisions to harm you
Impossible to speak directly and then let go
Impossible to speak
Easy to trash.

Unfriend? Unfollow? Social Media and Spiritual Blogging

October 18, 2013

Social media has become both a constant irritant and an indispensable part of my life. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I joined Facebook – I may have read somewhere that I had to join social media to “develop a platform.” I now consider Facebook indispensable to networking and keeping abreast of opportunities, while I question its value as a platform. At times the whole Internet, but social media in particular, feels like a bottomless drain on my energy. There’s so much information, so much of it laced with fear, so little of it containing any real substance. It’s the journalistic equivalent of fast food: cheap but unsatisfying, fattening but lacking core nutrients.

Sometimes, I just have to stay home and virtually not go anywhere.

But surprisingly, when the specter of having to leave Facebook arose about six months ago, I was panicked. How would I function professionally? How could I get information that can’t be classified as news because it pertains to a relatively small group of people, spread over wide geography? How could I get information that can’t be classified as news because the story develops collaboratively, over the space of a day or two?

I don’t know if the reason for my speculating such a drastic move is, ultimately, important. The large social media outlets like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter are going to eventually implode as they become huge unwieldy conglomerates. The result will not be an exchange of Reddit for Yahoo or Facebook for Google+, but loosely connected independent sites catering to various specialized, alternative, or marginalized communities. Facebook tried to develop a series of small networks through its “groups,” Google+ has tried to do this in a different way through its “circles,” and Reddit has its “subreddits,” but ultiminately these are starting to collapse through the limits of size and centralized administration.

This graphic was removed on Facebook and its account holder suspended.
This graphic was removed on Facebook and its account holder suspended.

Which does bring me to the particulars of why I think it is likely that I will, eventually, need to leave Facebook. There has been a great deal of glorified sexualized violence toward women on Facebook, and attempts to address this have brought only short-term solutions. About a year ago, feminists began collectively trying to bring the worst of this violence to the attention of administrators, asking that it be banned. Almost always this went nowhere. Eventually, feminists began contacting Facebook advertisers, letting them know that their advertisements were appearing on group sites dedicated to graphic sexualized portrayals of violence against women. This got a reaction. Facebook began losing revenue and some of these sites were removed. Ultimately Facebook decided to make its advertising streams more sophisticated, so family-friendly advertising would not appear on a page titled something like “Chokes the Bitch.”

Which completely neutralized this organizing/activist tool.

On the other side of the equation, prominent feminist activists are routinely targeted on Facebook and reported to administrators for their pictures and speech. One woman had her account suspended because she posted a textbook-style illustration of female reproductive anatomy, with ovaries, Fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, etc. Another woman was suspended because she posted a picture of an ancient Greek statue. It’s not clear that Facebook is deliberately targeting feminists; when large groups of tech savvy males and their sock puppets submit complaints certain algorithms kick in, and even individuals moderating complaints may rely on the numbers of reporters rather than wading through the stream. The same thing happens in the comments section of online newspapers – a lot of feminist viewpoints do not get posted because so many males object. Twitter is even worse, veering into the realm of sexual harassment and threats of violence. Men get their back up when women call for a ban on this type of behavior, saying this is an impingement on “free speech,” but the whole purpose of sexualized threats and graphic violence is to silence the speech of women.

So if a significant number of feminists began calling for a boycott of Facebook or Twitter, there’s a good chance that I will feel compelled to go along with it. So far, women have been biding their time until better alternatives arise. I do believe that eventually this will happen. If social media has “been woven into the fabric of our lives” as everyone likes to say everywhere, there are some glitched stitches quite a few rows back, and the whole thing will have to be unraveled.

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