Counterfeit Validation – The need to be followed.

I recently surpassed 50 posts for this blog which represents several personal achievements. First, it signifies that I haven’t quit. It’s estimated that most bloggers pull the plug in the first 2-3 months, I’m almost four months in. Second, it means that I am enjoying it (which I do, it has come to be my creative outlet and pseudo meditation). Third, it signals that a few  apparently find my roadkill humorous, intriguing, or interesting. But during the time I’ve also learned a great deal about what bloggers find important and the lengths some will do to get more of it – followers.

Followers, for most  bloggers, are a big deal. It’s secretly why we do what we do, otherwise we’d just journal in private. It’s our barometer that the content we put out there is desirable, important, and worthy.  If we were really just writing for ourselves, why put it on the internet and check reader stats, page hits, and the like? And since there is a small minority using their blog as a full-time source of income it’s a hobby for the vast majority of us.

From the beginning I felt the urge to grow ChopperPapa’s reader base. I was constantly checking my Feedburner, looking at my analytics, comparing other sites and asking “what are they doing that I should be doing?” When I would land on a blog the first thing I would do is check how much comment traffic the site had and their number of followers as a way of sizing up the competition. But soon this become more important than the writing and, as a result, I found myself moving away from the genuine purpose behind the site.

My original intent for starting this blog was to share my experiences at being a father in the modern family through creating a platform that would draw single fathers (and mothers) into the conversation. During the process I established one standard to operate by – when they’re ready, I’d be proud for my kids to read it. This meant I wouldn’t have 4-letter words in every sentence, I would stay positive yet realistic, and I wouldn’t write at another individual’s expense. But almost immediately, after seeing the perceived success of some other bloggers, I began breaking this promise in the hopes of attracting followers; believing that if I too built it with sarcasm, crudeness, and grumbling followers would come.

In much the same way that I was going against my own principles, I’ve read posts from others which made me wonder if it was written purely for ‘shock and awe’. Posts which left me asking if the blogger really is like that, speaks that way, or is really that pessimistic. Then I discovered a sad example of the lengths bloggers will go to for readers – HNT (Half Nekkid Thursdays). For those unfamiliar, this is where a blogger posts risqué pictures of themselves ranging from flirty to x-rated for no apparent reason other than they can! I find no purpose for this aside from a desperate attempt to get attention. I’m persuaded to ask, when I stumble upon these posts, if I can forward it to their significant other, parents, or particularly kids as it seems the majority who participate in HNT are parents.

And it confirms something I’ve come to realize during my time in the blogosphere, social media has turned many of us into cyber popularity whores.  We use these tools as a way to satisfy our craving for attention, to confirm our self worth, and validate us a individuals. Yet here is what I think most of us know, that when we base our self-worth on the opinion of others we will ALWAYS be disappointed. They will never respond in the way that we want or anticipate. And while I completely understand this I still struggle with it. I will write what I feel is an intriguing and relative post that everybody will dig.  But after a few days if there is no feedback, I immediately begin to wonder if I even know what good is. Because I didn’t get the reaction I hoped for I begin second guessing myself. Which begs the question did I write the post to share my experiences and thoughts or to get comments?

But this certainly isn’t a blogger only struggle, is it? How many of us have broken our own principles just to fit in and be accepted? We warn our children against it yet we often find ourselves doing the exact thing. We will dress a certain way, drive a particular car, and live beyond our means to feel like part of the ‘in-crowd’. But for those of us who have already gone down that path we know that it dead ends at emptiness.

After finally coming to this realization and getting a reality check to the face from a good friend I decided to make some changes in how I approach blogging. I resolved not to track my readership or followers and only review my site stats annually. I promised myself to stay focused on the motive behind bringing ChopperPapa online regardless of how unsuccessful a particular post(s) might be, in other words I will not  part from my principles to get a reader. I swore to always be grateful for those who read and those who comment on my material, I truly enjoy the interaction and engagement and look forward to more whether it be on deep topics like Manufactured Beauty or lighter fare such as RetroRewind. But most importantly I promise to always remind myself that the truest form of validation doesn’t come from a comment or a ‘Like’ button – but from within.

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32 responses to Counterfeit Validation – The need to be followed.

  1. I check my analytics for one reason – the crazy searches that people find my blog. It makes me laugh and gives me things to tweet.

    I get emails, texts, and occasional comments from people telling me they read. That’s good enough. Plus, blogging networks like Studio30plus (which you would like a lot), Bloggy Conference and my 100words friends – http://www.velvetverbosity.com contact me which means something.

    I’ve been blogging on and off sicne 2005. This current one is almost 10 months old. I’ve never enjoyed a blog or writing endeavor as much as myblogcanbeatupyourblog. I’m glad you feel the same way about yours, because I am major fan and I look forward to checking it every day.

    You make good internet, Chopper.

  2. JG

    Keep up the great work KB. You have a gift of writing and a ton of credibility as a single Dad. It is an honor to know you as a friend and I encourage any single dads out there to check our chopperpapa.com. Real, practical and sometimes humorous insight into life as a single dad. Keep writing.

    JG

  3. Wow… very well said ChopperPapa.
    Keep up the good work. If you build it, they will come.
    Best of luck
    Jack

  4. Oh… uh… I almost forgot… Do you have any links to these HNT blogs by chance? Never heard of it and a little curious.

  5. I am a diehard blogger. It is an accolade that comes with no benefit and one that I have given to myself, but it is earned. Seven years of blogging is something that is worth crowing about to myself. I have created a legacy of thoughts and ideas that I can pass along to my children.

    They’ll gain insight into me that they wouldn’t otherwise have. It might sound narcissistic and maybe it is, but I would have enjoyed reading my father’s words.

    And because I love doing this I have taken steps to monetize my blog. I don’t make enough to support a family, but it provides walk around change and the ability to get some non-essentials here and there.

    I pay attention to my stats, but I don’t despair over it. There are always going to be people who are more popular and some who are less. Some of this is similar to high school. You can’t always figure out why someone is popular, they just are.

    If you blog because you love it you will get far more out of it. Looks to me like you already figured that one out.

  6. Jim Murphy

    Hi Kyle,
    While eating lunch, I will occasionally check Facebook to see what is going on. Several times I have seen that you have a new “Blog”, if that is what they are called. Honestly, I enjoy reading them myself. However, I have never posted a comment about any of your blog’s as I didn’t realize anything I would say mattered, but, I do believe that some positive or negative feedback probably goes a lot farther than not saying anything at all. So, A toast to you from my bottle of water as I sit here at the desk. Keep posting as I find them entertaining, thoughtful & it allows other people to share the same feelings that you have and I am sure there are people such as myself that just don’t comment.

  7. Wow, I agree…this is so well put. I have seen you comment on other blogs I read but seeing this one posted over at DD’s blog, and I just had to read it. Being a social media whore is very easy to fall into, and once you realize that’s where you’re headed, you usually are able to pull the reigns in…those are the successful ones, right?:)

  8. Well said! I’ve often wondered if people are actually bloggers or popularity whores….hell, I often wonder if I’m a blogger or just a lippy & opinionated little bitch with a blog…ok fine, I didn’t wonder long…I’m just a lippy bitch with a blog:) I started blogging by accident. I wanted to get the story of that time I married a meth addicted he whore out of my system and so I did….and then I hit publish…..and people actually read it…some ppl related to it all too well, some ppl wonder what the fuck I was thinking, some ppl wonder if I will ever stop cussing like a drunken sailor (I won’t, I promise) People ask me “Where do you see your blog going?” and I say “The fucker better stay right where I put it, I paid for that spot damnit” I don’t see my blog going anywhere, I never meant for it to…….I blog for my sanity….I just let ppl read along now:) I blog about ugly shit….death, drugs, fighting depression and random things like what bookface really needs….my blog may not be the most popular but it’s real and some ppl (the ones that are not fuckwads) appreciate that.
    I dig your blog and the topics you write about, you better not quit! I’ll be pissed and stab something I swear…I’ll do it.

    PS-why the fuck can’t I get your badge?! Help! I’m blonde!

  9. Dude. You’re making me look bad. I’m a comment whore. But I totally get what you’re saying. I wish I wasn’t this way. I will say… I’ve never done HNT though… yet… 🙂

  10. Certainly didn’t want to do that…I can easily see how that piece can be attractive. It’s empty and hollow though…it’s always enticing to have attention but it’s always fleeting.

  11. I’m not quitting!! LOL! I enjoy it, as I wrote, it has become my creative outlet. I am a straight up D personality meaning I like to run stuff, drive things and win! There are 56 bagillion other bloggers out there and some are good and some are well, they could be better. Your’s is straight up hilarious! You rock!!!

    If Oprah wants to interview me about ChopperPapa…but I won’t be waiting by the phone.

  12. Jobo, Thanks so much for stopping in. We do seem to run in the same circles. It can be very easy to get addicted to this and to put our identity to it. I think any of us can pull ourselves out of that if we feel that way. Your feedback will always be appreciated!

  13. Jim!!! Thanks so much, it means alot to me that you are reading and everything any commenter says matters. Feedback helps me keep it between the lines. Your feedback is ALWAYS appreciated!

  14. I do Jack, I had grandiose ideas that I was going to go viral immediately because of this or that….I feel that misses the whole deal of why you blog on relationship topics.

  15. I don’t link to any, if I stumble across a blog I’ll see them. Just google HNT or Half Nekkid Thursdays and you’d find plenty of chances, it’s quite sad however.

  16. I’ve often thought about the 100 word posts, you nail it every time. I’m going to go to Studio30 plus

    I can see your enjoyment, it comes through in your writing, I follow you religiously!

  17. Anonymous

    Aw, c’mon. You know it doesn’t even come from within. God is the only one who can validate us. And I’ll bet He cares what we blog about.

    I’m pickin’ up what you’re layin’ down though. My desire for comments/followers was mostly based on what I wanted to know about my ability to write. I know the content isn’t great, but if people understand it, then it’s ok by me. Jumping onto BlogFrog got me a bunch of followers, but I don’t think a one of them ever comments. I got over it.

  18. Agreed, my reference was that we can’t get our validation from exterior or material accomplishments or goods.

    Here is something I will tell you, comments are not an indication of readership. Commentors are usually fellow bloggers…

  19. Danielle

    I love the point of this post. I fight with a lot of the same things. In the end, I realized that I am a small blogger and always will be. I LOVE the followers I have. The comments I get on posts make me really feel like most of my followers are FRIENDS. They really care and it isn’t fake. My number of followers doesn’t go up much and I don’t care. I just want to keep the great people that I have.
    I love your writing and am sticking around!

  20. Thank you Danielle! My purpose is to get people to think about things, maybe differently, and start a conversation.

    I appreciate your support!

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  22. I’ve started out writing a collective newsletter when I was a daycare provider. Then, very late in the game, I discovered blogging. I’ve been “writing” for over 9 years on and off and I keep coming back to it. I use it because I have a lot to say I guess. This post hit home for me. I’ve asked myself many times why I even write when it seems only few are reading. I mean, I don’t get paid, I don’t have the time to commit to it on a regular basis. I don’t really care to do what it takes to shock and awe people. So, why? I just freakin’ love writing. I write how I talk and think. And I really do care what other bloggers write about. In fact, when I started up again last year, I thought, “Boy, I’ll get to know a bunch of other mom bloggers out there and feel really connected.” Funny thing is that your blog (and a couple of other dad blogs, don’t get me wrong, I have mommy favorites too) has been one of THE most honest and thought provoking for me. I’m still thinking about your post on letting kids sleepover at the house of a child with a single father. I’m impressed because it’s obvious you do it because you want to do it. There are many blogs where I’m not so sure. And multiply that by 10, and you have the blogs where I know they really don’t care how it impacts me as long as they get paid. When people read my stuff I want to be thought of as a genuine writer where the point is obvious, you’ll laugh, cry, roll your eyes, nod your head, or shake your head. I want them to look at my site and wonder where the ads are, wonder why I’m being so sincere, and wonder why I think it’s cool to just be me.
    Knowing who you are and why you’re there is crucial. There’s a blogger out there who’s thing is to drop f-bombs and throw a-grenades. Kudos to that person, if he/she stays true to it. But I’m not that person. So I’ll just be nice me. And I’ll keep reading ChopperPapa you.

  23. Like EVERYTHING in life, Kyle, it’s all about balance. You’ve learned and achieved a great deal is a few short months. In fact, I would’ve assumed you’ve been at it much longer. Also, regardless of any of this, YOU are a good writer. THAT is something that I believe you either have or not, though you certainly can improve if you’ve got something to improve.

    I post provocative photos or images regularly – NEVER offensive – just I hope thought-provoking for exactly the reason you mention – to gain attention. But, I also believe what I write has value to others and I want to get my messages across to as many people as I can…

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