4 things I don’t do on the internet (and why my life is better for it)
Over the past few months, I’ve gotten myself a new little hobby, which I call ‘Comparing Myself to People on the Internet’.
As hobbies go, it’s not really a great one, to be honest. I wouldn’t recommend it. In fact, I hesitate to even mention it, because, seriously, I absolutely HATE it when other people write blog posts complaining about how people on Instagram are making them feel bad. I mean, no matter how carefully you phrase that one, it always comes across a bit like, “I can’t have nice things, so other people shouldn’t have them either!” and no one wants to be THAT person, do they?
No, they do not. Or, at least, they shouldn’t.
I’m doing my best to break myself of the habit, but now that I’ve told you one thing I do online that makes me feel bad (Seriously, though, why CAN’T I have a beautiful Instagram theme? Y THO?), I thought I’d try to balance things out a bit by telling you about 4 things I DON’T do online – and why I think my life is all the better for it. For instance, I don’t…
Read forum threads I’m mentioned in
As a full-time blogger, checking my site analytics to see where visitors to the blog are coming from is part of my job. Most of the time, the traffic comes from the usual sources, like Google, Pinterest and social media, but every so often, I’ll see traffic coming from a forum like Mumsnet or GOMI (Very rarely from GOMI, thankfully, but there is one post that gets traffic from it from time to time…), and I’ll know that someone has mentioned me in a thread there, and linked to my blog from it.
I never, ever click through to those forum posts to see what’s being said about me. Never. I’m not even tempted.
Because I made the mistake of checking out a forum post I’d been mentioned in exactly once … and it totally ruined my day. It was a post on Mumsnet with a title something like, “Let’s talk about the bloggers we hate!” or similar. I mean, that should really have given me a clue I wasn’t going to like it, huh? Being the idiot I am, though, I let my curiosity get the better of me, and I ploughed on regardless. Sure enough, someone had brought me up as a blogger they hate (Thanks, that person, if you’re reading this!), and had listed why. In all honestly, the post itself wasn’t THAT bad: I mean, I’ve seen worse. It was so filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations, though, that it was all I could do not to sign up for the forum immediately and go in to fight my corner, all, “Wait! If you’re going to snark about me, at least get it right, people!” Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
I didn’t, though. It took a Herculean effort on my part, but ultimately I know that these things never end well, and that me going in there with all guns blazing would just create needless drama – which would probably just make me look even worse than the original post had. So, instead of wasting what would probably have ended up being hours of my time arguing with someone who’d already decided she hated me, I just hit the “back” button on my browser, and never went back.
Since then, I’ve taken the position that what people say about me behind my back is none of my business, so I just don’t read it. Sure, I guess some would say I’m missing out on what could be valuable feedback by doing that, but I’m also missing out on a bunch of hurtful comments, and outright lies, and I’m good with that. If people really want to give me “feedback” they can do it to my face (Well, to my Internet face, anyway…), and do it respectfully: and if people just want to complain about me behind my back, well, they’re free to do that too – just please don’t tell me about it or expect me to read it. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to, after all…
(I’ve just re-read this post, and realised that I’ve made it sound a bit like there are tons of people snarking about me on forums all over the internet. There really aren’t – or not that I know of, anyway. These forum links thankfully don’t crop up all that often, so my point here isn’t that they are lots of people talking about me behind my back, simply that those who do can feel free to crack on with it without any interference from me!)
Oh, and I don’t ever Google myself, either, needless to say. And nor do I…
Check to see who’s unfollowed me on Instagram or Twitter
One day last year I was mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter mentions (Which is another thing I don’t tend to do very often, btw: if you’ve tweeted me and haven’t had a response yet, I promise I’m not being rude, I just won’t have seen it!), when I stumbled across a tweet which appeared to be calling me out for unfollowing someone: by which I mean it literally said something like, “Hey, @foreveramber unfollowed me, can you believe it?”
I was absolutely mortified, of course… and so was the poor girl whose account had tweeted that message, because it turned out to be one of those apps you can sign up to that notifies you every time someone unfollows you, and she’d had no idea it was going to tweet the information publicly. She was really apologetic (And I actually ended up re-following her, so hey, I guess that technique worked!), but all I could think was, why on earth would you want to be notified every time someone unfollowed you on social media? Seriously, though, what possible use could that information be to you?
And, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not nearly cool enough to not care AT ALL that people unfollow me. Like, a little piece of me dies inside every time I look at my Instagram profile and see that, YET AGAIN I’ve managed to lose EXACTLY the same number of followers I’ve gained. So, yeah, I’d rather people DIDN’T unfollow me, if at all possible, but, at the same time, it’s not like I’m taking names and then adding them to my Little Book of Enemies, you know? Or not any more, at least. I just don’t have the mental energy for those kind of shenanigans, and honestly? I think my life is all the better for it. I don’t need to know who unfollowed me and why: all I need to know is that there are enough people still following me to continue to justify my bid to track down every single white wall in the land, and have my photo taken against it.
Well, someone has to do it, right?
Speaking of the whole follow/unfollow business, meanwhile, I also don’t…
Follow people out of politeness
I know a lot of people have this idea with social media that if someone follows you, you’re morally obliged to follow them back, otherwise you’re a coldhearted bitch who should have her phone taken away immediately. Well, I don’t consider myself to be the least bit coldhearted (I probably should have my phone taken away from me, though, to be fair…), but I’ve never bought into that idea. Not every account is going to appeal to everyone, after all: I mean, I’m not interested in food or sports, say, so if you mostly tweet/Insta/whatever about those subjects, I probably won’t follow you – and that’s no reflection whatsoever on YOU, or even on your account: it’s actually a reflection on ME, and the fact that I just don’t have the time to keep scrolling past dozens of photos of things I’m not interested in, purely out of politeness.
So I don’t. And I think my life is marginally better for it.
Finally, I don’t…
Look at Facebook more than a couple of times a week
I continue to have a Facebook account purely because you need to have a personal account in order to maintain a blog page, and enough people have told me they use Facebook to follow my blog for that blog page to be fairly essential to my business. I have to admit, though, now that the page I have for my blog is mostly automated (Each new blog post is automatically posted to Facebook as soon as it’s published, without me having to do anything), I hardly ever look at Facebook – and honestly, I don’t miss it.
I don’t miss the memes, or the “memories” (Or the memories of the memories, even…), or the people who think they’re going to cure cancer by posting a fruit as their status. I don’t miss the chain letters, the political “debates”, or the people who really should have checked Snopes.com before sharing that post. I don’t miss Facebook, in short: and I’m a big fan of all of the extra time I’ve gained from rarely looking at it any more. Mostly because I can now use that time to look at Instagram, instead. Oh, COME ON, people, I’m only human: I’m allowed to have SOME bad online habits, surely?
So tell me: what are yours? What do you do online that you’d like to stop – and what DON’T you do, that makes your life better?