Friday, December 12, 2008

Follow Who?

I wish that when I had graduated high school nearly twenty years ago that all my insecurities would have vanished into the sky dappled with ceremonious caps. They didn’t.

Even though I gained confidence and revamped my awkward demeanor, twinges of self-doubt poke about my core. My desire to be adored by all whom I encounter propels many of my actions. Compliments about how I parent, manage my home, and serve and inspire my husband fill a void carved by uncertainty. As a writer, I fear inadequacy…there are so many who excel at my craft. And if you have blogged for at least….one week…I’m certain that you are somewhat familiar with the reoccurrence of feelings that you haven’t owned since that tube of Clearasil.

A few months ago, I wrote about taking off my blog rater because it was bringing out my competitive beast. About the same time, I noticed that Blogger had installed a feature called “followers.” Originally, I thought that adding the button would do nothing but introduce my OCD nature to a new enemy. However, there were nine people following this blog at that time and my inner public relations professional thought, “This would be a great way to promote the blogs of those who read Becoming Me.

As you know, I added the button. At first, the OCD me was clam happy and cucumber cool. My readers increased from nine to thirty…and then 50. Daily I would check my numbers while imitating Sally Fields acceptance speech at the1985 Academy Awards (“You like me, right now, you like me.”).

My love affair with the following button escalated when an icon of a very well-known blogger appeared in that gadget slot. However, when I hit the 80s, I noticed that some of my “followers” dropped. Among them was the aforementioned famous one. It stung. I won’t even paint you a verbal picture of what I did when I discovered that a few of my readers dropped my blog to follow a newer one with the same name…let’s just say it involved me lying on my bathroom floor in the fetal position grasping an empty bag of M&M’s.

Yes, I’m exaggerating. That never happened… but here comes an honest and pitiful confession---I began tracking my readers with the intent of wooing back any runaways. Oh yes, that was the plan. Praise God that I quickly got a grip and never executed such an arrangement that would have catapulted me into the role of psycho blogger. As usual, my grip was firmed by The Professor who sarcastically, yet helpfully quipped, “I don’t think you should refer to them as your followers…call them your disciples…because it is all about you, right?”

Ouch. Gulp. Ouch.

Then I laughed. Hard. I laughed because I realized how silly I was being. I laughed because there is no way I can keep up with all the blogs that are out there (did you know that there are thousands of great bloggity reads?), so why should I take it personally when someone cannot keep reading mine? I laughed because as the old 80’s saying goes, I thought I was all that and a bag of chips. I laughed at my audacity, which was hideous considering that I am a terrible blog follower. I fall into the overambitious category. I sign up to follow about 200 and then average on visiting most of those blogs only once a month.

So, I’m going to keep my little side bar button…but I’m keeping it for my initial reasons. I’m also going to try really hard to not obsess about it. In fact, I want every one of you who follow this blog to know that if you wish to stop following at any time for any reason, I will not have a nervous breakdown…nor will I stalk you. Pinky swear.

Because it is so not about me. It is all about Jesus. Let’s make a deal shall we…you just focus on following Him and I’ll be doing the same.

Matthew 16:23-25 - NIV

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.


Heather of the EO said...

Oh, Amen sister. I've thought LONG and HARD about that whole "follower" word. It rings of something that I just don't feel good about. I too have tried to keep the focus on the little faces and all the people clicking on them. They are so cute.

But yes, I've had this same experience, but then have come to realize that people can't keep following EVERYONE or they would have NO time to step away and be in their lives. So when people UN-follow, we should just assume that they needed to cut back. Which is way cool.

Great post. Of course. :)

Anonymous said...

When I was on blogger - before I moved to TypePad - I never added the follower button because I don't enjoy the popularity contests that seem to go on. I actually had a group of followers without the button even displayed but didn't want to glorify it too much. I wonder what it makes someone new to blogging feel like and if it would intimidate more than welcome...

Not that I am against those who do display it! It is all a matter of what you are comfortable with.

I've read a few bloggers posts on this same topic and they all say the same as you -- sometimes the tracking can get a little intense.

Thank you for pointing to our Jesus, again, with your words and your heart.

Your blog, like you, is beautiful as always.

And I'm glad you kept it, wrote about it and glorified Christ through it. Amen, sister.

<3, Kristen

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

I posted about this recently, too. It does bring out a weirdness in one, doesn't it. I'm keeping mine, too, for a while, unless it becomes a big problem. So far, it only hurts for a second when i see I've lost someone. I am like you in that I don't get around to reading as much as I want to/should.

Lori said...

This is all too funny. I have been obsessing so much over this very thing and I seriously thought I was the only one!! Whew! One of my good blogging buddies gets new "followers" (I too hate this sounds like we are involved in a cult) daily while I try to stay content with my 24.

You have over 100 girlfriend, I'd say you're pretty darn popular! :) But I see your point.

Great post!

One of your "followers" better known as a CHRIST follower,


And just in case someone wants to join my party of 2 dozen, swing on over to my blog! I'll put the coffe on!

Candace Jean July 16 said...

I've always liked you, really, I like you! You remind me of myself, back in the day, and I don't even know how I found yours in the first place.

I share your thoughts about the follower thing and never put it up there until I had 3! Woo hoo! Then I decided I'm not really blogging for the world and I don't really write all that well, but someday when I'm old(er) I'll be able to go back and see what I did since I won't remember.

And I don't even read a smidgen of the people I follow! And I'm re-thinking having that gadget up there.

The Professor is a very wise man. Keep him.

I've enjoyed your journey in your walk with Christ.

Jenners said...

So so funny! I've been having a blast watching my "Followers" creep upward...and my husband said the other night: "You are totally going to lose it when someone drops out." And I thought to myself: He might be right.

Then tonight I was working on my "orphan" book blog (the one I don't work on as much) and I lost a follower (only has 9 so it was easy to notice that it went to 8). I felt a pang. I checked to see if I could figure out who it was. And then I said "What the heck are you doing?"

And I am revisiting my reasons for doing this in the first place...the social aspect is totally cool but I'm only going to read blogs that I really really enjoy. Otherwise you'll go nuts. But I do try to visit each person's blog that takes a moment to comment on mine. But ultimately, it is just one thing I do for myself and it should be fun and not about feeling bad. I really really like your post on this!!!


Anonymous said...

I had to drop technorati for the very same reason - I was getting too obsessed with my rating, etc. It's still a bit hard when I see my subscribers go down - I lost a good 30 when I switched to TypePad from Blogger. And for me, that was like 90% of mine! And then I realized I was taking it all a little too seriously. I blog because I like it, and because every so often I feel I need to share what God places on my heart. And because I like it. Oh wait, I already said that! :)

It helps to be reminded of this though - sometimes even not getting as many comments in a week as usual can become disconcerting. Until I remember it IS December and people actually have stuff to do! And since I don't always comment on every post I read, I have to remember most of readers are the same way.

(I have you in my reader, so I do read you regularly! You are fabulous and a inspiration to me in more ways than one!)

Lynsay said...

Lori sent me over here after we were discussing the "follower" phenom. I mean, one of my closest friend blogs about me all the time and she has a huge following, whats up with that? Aren't we supposed to love each other? :)

This gave me a good laugh, and put some perspective on the already painful realization that I am dreadfully addicted to who knows what is going on in my life. Sad right!

So I've repented, and am looking forward to many days of happy, carefree blogging!

Leon Basin said...

This was a great post.

Kimberly said...

Okay...I wrote on kinda the same thing tonight, but you are WAY more eloquent than me. Of course, since life isn't all about me , I guess it's okay if you are a better writer. :) hee hee

(And I didn't really talk about the follower thing in my post, it's just the stuff at the heart of it. I KNOW I can't handle the follower button!)

I love your honesty. That and the fact you use phrases like "pinky swear" and being in a fetal position with M&Ms. :)

Follower of Christ, but also a big fan of Angela (who reflects the light of Christ so beautifully),
K :)

Jennifer said...

I think that if the truth be all honesty...we are all guilty of this. Why do you think that we started out with "sitemeter", then "Feedburner with e-mail subscription" and now...the "followers". I'm just a guilty as you are of watching the numbers. Ok...I'll go a step farther in all honesty...I keep looking around on Facebook to see who has the large number of "friends"! I really wonder if half of those people know all of those people who are on their "friends" list...especially those in the hundreds to thousands. Come on...I am 46 and I doubt that I know or will know that many people in my life time.

Ok, back to the guilt and the followers...I have so many that I want to follow and I really try to keep up with all of them but it is consuming so much of my time and my life...I have a job and a family too. So, if I don't drop by is not personal toward you but it is personal on my half...I can't keep up and I have to do some here and some there.

I love your blog and your writings! I think you do a fantastic job! Keep up the great work!

Jenn said...

Awesome post! I expereinced the same feelings all throughout school, college and now I still operate my life this way. I am a people pleaser. I want people to like me. I love blogging but sometimes it turns against me when I get to concerned about only have 13 people follow me. Not to mention I only averege about 5-7 comments per post.:( Sometimes that can really get to me because I love to write. Obviously, I don't excel at it or I would have blossomed to bloggy success. But, my goal is to come to grips with this. God must have different plans for me. I just need to sit back and follow his leading.
Thanks for sharing.

2TooManyHats said...

I appreciate your blog and how you always bring it back to a scriptural point of view.

Mrs. Sidney said...

Very honest and thought provoking.

Keep up the good work!!

Gwen said...

That was great!!! I had that happen not too long ago where 5 followers dropped in like 3 days. It made me wonder if I had offended someone. I decided to post about it and let everyone know that I would not sugar coat anything because my blog was a way to get things out.

I enjoy reading your blog every time you post. It gets so busy sometimes it's not always easy to comment. But continue the great work with spreading HIS word. :)


sara said...

isn't it amazing how the enemy can so skillfully divert our attention from our savior to us! I am guilty of the same thing. I have caught myself wondering at times why so-and-so has more followers than I do. Thank you for this honest post and the reminder to refocus!!!

Gretchen said...

i'm glad it never occurred to me to look at sitemeter or feedburner...I thought about doing the following thing...but knew I'd be headed straight for the bathroom floor with you...fetal position and all.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Though we are not of this world and culture, dangitall, but we live in it. It's hard not to want to be the best at something. Hard not to want to feel affirmed outside of ourselves and what we know to be true because that's based on faith: knowledge of what is unseen. And the "seen" is mighty tempting.

Bless you for your transparency, Angela. For what it's're a must read for me.

Darlene said... crack me up. I have some of these same experiences. Mostly with the ones I know personally. I would check to see if I had more comments than them on certain days. I know it was bad of me...then I would get upset if they got more than me. Then I realized that my blog is not about who gets more followers or comments. About this world fell apart. At least to me it did. Our daughter who I have not spoken with since Oct. is making bad decisions. Of course this is why she will not talk to us ..because she know she is wrong. I pray for God to restore our relationship, but more important for Him to restore her back to him.
So..because of heavy heart and my world crumbling around me...I took a break from blogging. During this time I realized that God uses our blogs to lift and encourage each other. Since I have been back... I have found blog friends who are going through some of the same things that I, other blog friends pray for us.
It is so much easier to face blog friends that face to face friends. ..who you think are looking at you like a failure parent. I am not sure they are really looking at me like this....this is just how I feel.
So... God is pulling me up out of the mire and muck to higher ground.
I decided that its okay if my blog friends have more comments and followers than me...I get so much encouragement from the blogs that I don't want to stop being apart of blog world. I am still learning so much....God is still working on me!!!
Great post and keep it up!!!
Have a fabulous weekend,
I hope this made sense.

Beth in NC said...

I understand what you're saying. I am new at blogging, but of course I want people to read my blogs. Perhaps the "follow" option could be changed to "friends" ... ha. NO matter what, God is faithful to reign us back in when our attention leaves Him and falls on ourselves.

I appreciate your honesty. I love having Christian blogs to follow!


Brenda Susan said...

You are so funny, I love reading you! I too, am very aware of exactly how many so- called "Followers" I have. Wish they'd call it "Readers" instead tho.
It just feels so good when a new one appears, doesn't it? That's not wrong, it's fun right?
I love that you momentarily considered hunting the dropped followers to "woo" them back! Ha!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

I think I've clicked "follow" on any blog I've happened by just because it seems like the "nice" thing to do! ...which may mean I have a "making people happy" no matter what problem ;)

Love your honesty here!

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

As always a thoughtful and thought provoking post, but the part

"I’m certain that you are somewhat familiar with the reoccurrence of feelings that you haven’t owned since that tube of Clearasil".


sister sheri said...

I thought it was just me... I was so glad to read your post... and then to read the comments of your "disciples"... Well, that it just phenomenal. Transparency, my sister. Many fear it, few attempt it, but... if we are transparent... perhaps they will truly see what is inside the package!

Karen said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have to remind myself why I am blogging to begin with? Your post made me laugh!

angeljoy said...

We are soooo human aren't we? I do have to watch myself as I look at how many people are following me. What is my motivation? Thanks for bringing this to the forefront.

Anonymous said...

Ah, it would be so tempting to add that button if it were available in Wordpress. And so very much the wrong thing for me to do. I struggle to keep the focus on Christ and on what he is doing. I remind myself that even without 'followers' even without comments, even on days it seems as if I'm writing into the void I will never, ever know what seed has been planted in someone's heart through something they read on my blog.

In small group this week we talked about the verse (urg, reference escapes me) in which God says his word will never return empty but will accomplish what he desires. Never. If we are speaking his words that is a PROMISE. It will accomplish his desires. That's something that followers can't measure.

Julie said...

I love the way He speaks to you and touches those places in your heart....

I love the way you show your true self when you could hide it. No one had to know about this, but you allowed us a window into the struggles in your world.

It is hard sometimes not to allow comments or lack of them to speak to our voice having value....

You are right though, it all comes back to why...why are we here and who is it really about. Cause if it's about Him, then we need no responses...we write for the audience of one... I have to remind myself this all the time....

Thanks again, Angela for sharing your beautiful heart...with such vulnerability...


Classic MaMa said...

:) I wish I could tell you taht I have no idea what you're talking about, but then, I'd be lying.

Sit A Spell said...

Deny self HE tells, that's a biggy. I appreciate your raw honesty you've shared. I change mine to: "won't you sit a spell", cause I have a hang up with the word "follower"...Now, I really like seeing those on blogs, because it is my way of getting back to that blog! I just can't remember and those buttons really help.

Jill said...

I posted about this when the button was introduced. I too still don't feel good about it. I don't like that others who just sign on might feel any pressure or bad because no one is following them. I know for a while that was how I feel when no one commented. Then God sweetly and quietly spoke that I'm not writing for anyone but Him - and He assured me that the ones who need to read what He is teaching me will come.

I have kept it up in hopes to introduce others that are like minded and want to meet new friends.

I enjoy seeing all of your beautiful faces and reminds me to keep it real for HIM!

I am so touched by your honesty!

Blessings today!

Cindy said...

I'm kind of like you ~ wanting to follow so many blogs and only having time to catch up on a few every day or two.

I love my 'followers' but mostly I just love to blog and share what it is that God is doing with whomever chooses to read that day.

I won't quit following because your words are always so true, honest and reflective of life and what God is doing.

We'll catch up again next time:)

Brenda Susan said...

Uh oh, I already left you a comment on this post but now I have experienced the loss of one of my "followers"! And I am shocked at how bad it felt! Yesterday I saw that one was missing & I kept wondering what I said that made them leave! Did they not like my christmas decorations that much? Ha! Oh well, Im feeling better now, life goes on! Ha!

Becca said...

I've been wanting to comment on this post for a while! This whole thing hit home for me a few weeks ago.
I'd gone to my book group and had come home feeling a bit emotional due to the fact that I felt I talked too much. A good friend was also there and she assured me I didn't but needless to say that's how I felt. When I got home my husband was unstairs putting the kids to bed and I logged on to check some blogs. I noticed then that one of my favorite blogs, who is very popular, had taken me off her blog roll. Now, she may have done this some time prior and I just hadn't noticed until that night but it was enough to bring tears to my eyes. I remembered the sweet words in an email she'd sent to me and other than a good friend was the only person at that time who'd added me to their blog roll. It felt good. I didn't realize how bad it would feel to be taken off.
I decided to talk to my husband and wasn't sure he'd understand, he's not into this whole blogging thing, yet he was kind and reassuring, reminding me WHY I started blogging in the first place.
This was such a good post!

Mrs. N. said...

It is so hard Becca! I know that I take it way too personally. I found that people tend to drop if they are just too busy. Also, some people drop if you don't subscribe to their blog as well. And some drop if you don't comment on their blog. And yes it stings (I just lost another one) but it is all ok in the end. I am sure that no one left your blog because of not liking you.

Lisa writes... said...

50? Me, I only have 6... *sigh*

Wise words, here, friend. Oh, the lengths we go in order to measure our worth! I think of Paul's words in Galatians about wanting the praise of men or of God, and if he wanted the praise of men, then he would not be a disciple of Christ! Ouch! I know too often I desire the praise (and the followers) of men, and it only makes me miserable.

Thanks for your honesty in blogging...

The Rambler said...

Great post...and sooooo true. It's like you reached into the bloggy brain of mine and put it here in your post...found you from another blog who had posted about follower's and they recommended checking this post out. So glad I did....gonna blog stalk/follow you now :)

Having people enjoy reading what I write helps fuel the creative fire that I didn't know existed. It's been great.

Erin said...

I had the follower button on my blog, and I realized it was beginning to be the first thing I looked for when I brought up my blog. Yikes. So I took it off. I feel better. Thanks for your honesty!

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