When I first started this blog, it was because I was tired of seeing negative message after negative message followed by trolling comment after trolling comment online. It seemed that no platform I used was free from simmering undertones of hatred. Using any form of social media almost became a case of putting on armour and preparing for an onslaught of criticism. 99% of the negativity I saw was never directed at myself, but seeing the level of nastiness, the language used and the below the belt critiques that were plastered all over the online world that I accessed was disgusting. Quite simply, I hated it. The internet started out as a place to share ideas, to connect with people, to find out new information and to meet new people who shared similar hobbies and ideas to your own. Somewhere along the line, I felt like that had changed and I wanted to make sure that the content that I put out there was content that I felt the world needed. That’s why I chose to interview influential, inspiring people and to write articles about a variety of important topics with a hopeful tone.
My vision was to create a space of positivity and understanding and I would say that I have stayed true to this. I write each article about something I care about and select the people I want to interview because I genuinely admire them. However, when I first started out, I have to admit that I focused a lot of my attention on the numbers my posts were getting. Every time a post got ‘liked’ I gave myself an internal high 5. When a new person followed my page on Instagram or Facebook, I took that as a pat on the back for doing well. Some posts did better than others, and when some posts didn’t do as well as the post the previous day, I doubted myself and wondered if my writing simply wasn’t good enough.
Whilst it is true that I want the messages in my writing to reach as wide an audience as possible and that I choose to share them with my friends, charities and strangers, it is also true that really what matters to me is that people hear the ideas, not simply click ‘like’ for the popularity boost. There’s no denying that it is nice to know that my work is appreciated, but to get caught up with numbers is to lose all sense of credibility. If you reduce your work or yourself down to numerical value then you are doing yourself a disservice. You could get a million likes, but if no one is reading the content or listening to what you have to say then does it matter? How can a like purely for a like back mean anything?
A prime example of this kind of fake supportive reality is Instagram. I receive messages daily telling me that for a small fee I can get a shout out from a brand to raise my profile or buy followers. I could do it and overnight I would look way more popular… but it wouldn’t be real. Those robot followers wouldn’t be people who believed in the things I speak about. They wouldn’t be there to learn about someone else’s experience or to escape into a world of positivity and self acceptance. Furthermore, my Instagram follow count fluctuates daily. There are people who follow me just in the hope that I will follow them back. After a day of following me, they then unfollow me and hope that I won’t notice and do the same to them. They don’t care about the page, the message or what is being said – they just want the extra follower. Without it, they would appear to be less popular online. But that’s all the followers and the likes are – an appearance, and a lot of appearances we see online are deceiving.
I truly believe that you should project an authentic version of yourself on whatever form of social media you choose to put yourself on. You might not have thousands of followers, you might not get products gifted or be sponsored by a brand to post content, but you will be genuine. As soon as you become obsessed with numbers, you lose yourself to social media. You are simply just another person editing their photos to a palette that they know gets likes or who visits an iconic place purely for the purpose of getting a photo to share. You remove yourself from the real world and enter into a world where the line between what is real and what is not is blurred beyond all recognition.
A like does not define your worth. I will not judge you more or less for having one thousand followers. It is a number that essentially means very little. Some of the people with the most followers are not necessarily the best people or the people that are saying the nicest things.
I do what I do because I believe in raising the profile of certain causes, of opening up discussions about body image and making sure that not everything you see online has a nasty element to it. My writing matters to me and I know from messages I have received, charities and organisations that have shared my work and strangers that have decided to follow what I have to say that my writing also means something to other people too. That audience is not an audience of millions or even thousands, but it is an audience of likeminded people who truly believe, as I do, that there is good in every day. I share my writing with people who talk to me about it, who offer me ideas, who support me with genuine likes without expecting anything from me in return. To connect with likeminded people means more than any amount of arbitrary likes ever could. Of course it’s nice to get new followers and to have lots of likes on a photo, but the part that really matters is the people behind those interactions. It’s the people who are affected by what you write, who want to share your work because they believe in what is stands for. It’s the messages you get saying that your writing helped them, it’s the comments that spark debate, it’s the comments of appreciation you get to pass onto the people you have interviewed.
To anyone out there who thinks that buying followers, posing provocatively purely for likes or believes that a person’s worth is based solely on a 4-digit follower number – I beg you to take a step back and re-evaluate. Social media is great, but it’s not real. A hundred likes don’t make you a better person. The more followers you have does not necessarily mean the happier you will be. Step away from the keyboard, look into the mirror and find the like that really matters – the one where you actually like yourself. You are enough with ten thousand followers or with zero. Your worth is defined by your own personal actions, not other people’s reactions to your selfie. Followers mean nothing if they aren’t following you for the right reasons. Learn to like yourself, unedited, unfiltered and uncompromised.