The freedom of expression is a right that we all proudly and ferociously fight for, and when it is being questioned or denied we seek asylum in the 1st Amendment which protects our Freedom of Speech, our right to “Say” what we want. To express ourselves the way that we see fit. At one time, there was no social media. No FaceBook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no WordPress, etc. So, when you wanted to express yourself to someone, guess what? You did it in person (that means face to face) or on the phone–and no that doesn’t means via text–I mean actually having a live conversation with someone. The other option was email.
Or you actually put pen to paper and wrote a letter. Yeah I know, I’m showing my age, and proudly might I add! But my point of all this, is that not too long ago, when we expressed ourselves, it was to get some kind of feedback or to voice our opinions about something or just to have an outlet for our feelings. Nowadays, we have the internet and the fact is we all have taken to Social Media and use it as the primary vehicle for self expression. But I can’t help but feeling like the way we express ourselves is all tied in to how many likes we get or how many followers we have, and it’s caused me to really think about how we show respect to one another on Social Media.
Now I for one am a strong believer in supporting one another and acknowledging fellow writers, or anyone who has a love for the written word as I do. I follow quite a few bloggers and if I read a blog that I relate to on any level I will always “Like” it because for me that is showing respect to that person who took the time to share a part of themselves with the world. If I read more than 1 that I relate to, I will follow that person. If I like someone on YouTube I will subscribe to them. If I read someone’s post on FaceBook that I relate to, I will push that like button there too. See, for me, it’s about letting that person know that I read it, I related to it, it spoke to me on some level, and I want to acknowledge you. Real simple.
So, recently I had a coworker ask me why I don’t receive more likes on my blogs. And it’s funny because when she asked me that, it caught me off guard. I mean, I started the blog as a personal outlet, a way to speak on issues that I had an opinion about and in a way that I couldn’t when I wrote more consistently for the San Francisco Examiner, because that was from a journalistic point of reference, as opposed to a personal blog, which is just that: a personal blog. As I stood there, I had to confess that I didn’t know! I never write a blog from a place that is contingent on someone liking my post. If someone can relate to it, can appreciate my standpoint or finds something that speaks to their soul, then I am thankful, and humbled and appreciative. If they choose to hit the like button to let me know that, then that’s even better! If they don’t I can’t take it personally, because after all, this is not the reason why I started the blog in the first place.
But it raised a question for me, which is how do we show respect here on Social Media? And is it important to most people? Do people compare the number of followers they have to other bloggers? If you have more followers and likes than I do, does that mean you’re a better blogger than I am? Does it mean that your content is more interesting, more relatable, less controversial? When you sit down at the computer and decide to share your thoughts on any given matter, you do it for you ultimately. If you are writing for a paycheck, then it’s a different matter of course. But as I shared with my coworker, this is a personal blog, and although I firmly believe that many of the issues I discuss are important not only to me but to my community, I can’t assume everyone shares my opinions. And by no means do I believe that everyone will like my flow or style of expression.
I do feel that it’s important that we all take a little time to make sure we are showing respect to one another in the ways that are most appropriate during our brief visits on Social Media, whatever site we may be on. The bottom line is, we all want to feel like what we share has merit and is being received favorably, so we gotta just enjoy the fact that we have the opportunity and ability to express our thoughts and try not to get too caught up in all the likes and dislikes drama. Because at the end of the day, who really cares about all that? It’s about folks, (no matter how few) reading your blog, not the fact that you don’t have a large number of likes… Just sayin…