Blogging and ego.

This post is not going to have any pictures. I don’t think. 

So for a few months now, I’ve been going to a couple of Buddhist book groups. I love them. And, while Ross was away in the jungle, I shook off all my skepticism about books labeled with Oprah Book Club stickers, and bought a copy of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. I love it, too.

This is a tough post to write because my comfort zone with Austin Eavesdropper pretty much stays in the nightlife/food/fashion realm, and sometimes, I truss up these local recommendations with stories about my life. But for the most part, this blog is a party dress and my real life is much less fabulous. If my life were wearing shoes, they would probably be Tevas.

But anyway, these books and book groups have been making me thinking about an issue that I wonder if other bloggers experience.  So I’m bringing it to this very public forum. And that is: blogging and ego.

Let’s be honest. First of all, Austin Eavesdropper is great, but it ain’t no Gawker. I am grateful to those of you who read, stop by, bookmark this page, all of it. And if I exert some effort, I can probably grow it. All I’m saying is, in terms of ego, I know it’s not the biggest, baddest blog in the world. So let’s not pretend Austin Eavesdropper is this cumbersome mantle of fame, because it’s not.

What it is, however, is my favorite hobby. It’s the only hobby I’ve ever stuck with for years at a time. It’s an avenue to complex, interesting people who read and comment on this site, it’s an inquiry into the creative currency of this town, and it’s free tickets to shows. All things I don’t want to give up.

Here’s one thing I do want to give up. Ego.

Or at least, give up some of it. I recognize that checking one’s blog stats, keeping track of your RT’s on Twitter, and all other manner of measuring your social media effectiveness is, on the one hand, pragmatic. If you want to build a community. And I think I do.

But hitting refresh on Twitter constantly, just to see how many people have RT’d my shit, is not only ego-stroking, it’s embarrassing. I don’t like that feeling. Whenever it gets this way, I tend to unplug from all social media platforms for a few days, to experience the joys of real life. I’ll be taking a pleasant walk, stand-up paddling, making dinner with my husband, calling my mom and dad, shopping at the Farmer’s Market and all the other healthy things people who aren’t obsessed with social media do, when out of nowhere – BAM – it hits.

“You should be Tweeting this.” 

“Where is your camera? Where is your damn camera?? You have to blog this.”

“Wait – should you check in? You have Gowalla (I think)…maybe other people are here? Should you make a recommendation?”

–And a thousand more anxious voices that rise up in a single moment. Reminding me that I haven’t been “participating” properly.

Last night, while eating with Ross, I confessed all this. Oh, he knows. He’s the one I used to cry to in the early days of this blog, when no one was reading (even him), and my feelings got all hurt.

I explained to Ross that while he was gone, I had an epiphany of sorts that I didn’t need to blog, ever again. I mean, I’m still going to, but no longer did I need it to be my identity, that thing I thought of first thing in the morning, the reference point to which I connect all lived experience because it would make a good blog post. And, that felt like a step.

“So, it’s a good thing,” he said.

“Yes,” I said. “It’s a huge relief.”

But.  Fellow bloggers, can you relate to this?

My ego, my sneaky, sneaky ego, thinks differently. It’s saying: “you give up blogging, you give up anything, and you’re less interesting.

You’re less Tolly.

You’re less you.”

I tend to get emotional when I talk about things like this.  And Ross, seeing it on my face last night, took my hand and said:

“You can do whatever you want. It’s about doing things for the right reasons. Do you want to blog because it makes you feel like a badass, or do you want to blog because the people you talk about are badasses?”

Ok, so he didn’t say those exact words.  He’s much more eloquent than I am. But that was the gist of it anyway.

I started this blog because my love was exploding outward. Three years ago, I was an excited little puppy, happy to reunited with pretty, perfect Austin, after a stint on the west coast. Each day, I wanted to log online and shriek: “did you guys hear about this place? And that person? And, and–! I’m so thrilled to be here!!”

All blogs start out so pure.

And then, when we get an audience, bloggers have a choice: to spread the love or horde it. Checking my stats all the time falls into the latter category, the hording category. Bye, I’m done with that.

So, where do we go from here? I’m not sure. I don’t have any tips. All I know is, if you’re a blogger, and you struggle with that nasty ego drive that makes you feel insecure because not enough people are reading your blog, or they are, and you’re nervous about how to keep them, the four lines of this poem really helped me:

“Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.”

That’s from a poem we’re reading in my Buddhist book group. It’s called “Xinxinming,” or, “Trust in Mind.” I have no idea what it means. Or rather, I only have kind of an idea of what some of it means.

But I find those lines very comforting. Especially for this whole blogging business.