Followers or Friends?

This is something that’s bothered me, and I’ve wanted to write a post on for a while now. I talk a lot about how amazing the online writing community is, and they really are. Where else can you meet so many awesome, nerdy people from all around the world who love the same things you do?

I’ve never seen another group of strangers be so supportive for each other and be so united, without ever having met. A lot of times, the #amwriting community is what gets me through the day, or what makes me keep going when I don’t want to, or keeps me from giving up hope.

The online writing community and those connections are very important to me. So I find it really frustrating, especially as I’ve become more involved and gained a larger presence online, to find more people solely concerned with what they can get out of you.

I rarely unfollow people, but it’s usually for the same reason I choose not to follow someone in the first place. If their feed is filled with mindless RTs, links, and promotions, I’m not going to follow them. To me, that’s not really contributing anything, but more screaming Look at me! Buy my book! I want to make real connections, not scroll through a bunch of links and tweets that could have been posted by robots.

Recently, I had apparently unfollowed a certain user at some point, and they left me a nasty comment trying to make me feel like a bad person for doing so. It certainly made me feel icky, but not for the reason they intended. I didn’t feel guilty, I just felt attacked. There was nothing personal about it, but they had made it personal. If we never connected, never talked, and there was nothing genuine there, why would I want to follow them?

Similarly, I’ve had several users with massive numbers follow me more than once, meaning they had followed, unfollowed, and followed me again (sometimes three or four times), without recognizing me and probably without ever knowing who I was. Clearly, there was no real connection there, I was just another stat to add to their numbers.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how many of these accounts simply RT and follow those on the #amwriting or other tags, without even seeming to read the tweet or notice the person. I’ve seen these accounts RT inappropriate and completely unrelated things, simply because they were tagged with the #amwriting tag, usually because it was trending. In that case, do those RTs even mean anything?

Obviously, no group is going to be perfect, especially when the internet is involved. But sometimes it just leaves me with an icky feeling, rather than the usual warm and fuzzies I get from the #amwriting community. To these people, you’re more important as a number than as a person.

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of followers, or following everyone back. But I’ve become a lot more conscious on who I choose to connect with, and what their motivations are.

The online writing community can be whatever you choose to make it, and what you want to get out of it. I feel like those who are obsessed with followers and RTs, just for the sake of followers and RTs, are missing out on all the best parts. The #amwriting community isn’t just for gaining influence, building an audience, and selling books. Actually, most evidence has shown that social media isn’t a huge boost to book sales.

The best parts are everything besides the numbers. The awesome people, the friends, the diversity, the connections, the networking, the business opportunities, the support. Really, would you rather have all of that, or a whole lot of numbers that in the end, don’t actually mean anything?

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6 Month Blog-a-versary and Thank YOU

Six months ago to the day (minus one) I started this whole adventure. I’d been writing my whole life, but finally decided to dive into the writing community. I had no idea what to expect, and no idea that it would ever become something that truly has a piece of my heart.

Six months ago, I was just another blogger, sharing her love of writing, and talking to an empty room.

I started this because it was what I was supposed to do. I wanted to build myself as a professional, get involved and plugged in, and learn about the industry. Which I did, and it’s been great, but I didn’t plan on meeting people who were genuinely kind and went out of their way to help me, or just talk about life. I didn’t plan on really making connections over the internet, because that seemed like such a strange concept to me, but I also didn’t know the writing community then.

Oh, I had no idea. 🙂

Six months later, I have over 1,000 total followers and have made true connections, relationships, and even friendships in that. I think that is the biggest thing that surprised me; how close the online writing community feels. We are separated by miles, countries, and even languages, but you have become a part of my life.

Some of you have helped me with professional questions, or writing dilemmas, or finding inspiration. Some of you have debated opinions with me, or talked about life, or supported me in my illness even though most of you have no idea what it is like. When I am having a bad day, I can always count on words and the writing community. No matter what, there is always a smile there for me.

Six months ago, I couldn’t imagine what this would be like. Now I can’t imagine what it would be like without all of this.

Really, I couldn’t do this without you.

So, here I am, sending 1,022 virtual hugs to each and every one of you.

I have learned and grown so much, and gained so much happiness since I started. You have made these six months amazing, and so worth it.

So thank YOU.