Whether you’ve noticed it or not, I’ve been embracing plenty of change in my online life. I’m shifting my attention and consumption in new directions. Not only are these changes natural, but they’re also refreshing.
So much of who we each are has become translated into internet algorithms and coding. We’re immersed in content and others’ lives to a staggering degree. The problem is, the changes in our everyday lives aren’t clear or, at times, welcome, in the online space.
Especially if you’re someone who is or was pursuing the “content creator” bandwagon, the whole point of making a blog successful is having a “brand” and sticking to it. You choose a niche topic that will draw in an intended audience. Learn a thing or two about search engine optimization, and there you go.
Except rarely do people stay in one narrow niche their entire lives. If they do, then they likely haven’t done much living. The age of social media hasn’t necessarily been old enough to see this transition. Besides MySpace. That happened.
If you too are navigating this unknown virtual terrain, let me join you in solidarity. It’s pretty intimidating to change your online life. I’m here for you; we’re all in this together. (What, High School Musical quotes aren’t hip anymore?)
How you present yourself.
Social media is a reflection of ourselves, so to change our online lives, we need to start with how we portray ourselves. It’s a bit of personality that we tend to showcase. The highlight reel.
So, if your online presence no longer exemplifies the best of who you are now, something needs to change. Think about your social media habits, what you share, your taglines and bios. Imagine yourself as an outsider; what perception might you give others? Is that perception authentic?
Don’t try to emulate others; the good ol’ cliché, “Be yourself!” That self is ever-evolving, so share what you want to, when you want to, however you choose. As long as it’s appropriate and not harmful to others, you essentially have free reign.
Maybe what you share now is different from what you shared last month, last year, even yesterday. Just as we transitioned from over-editing all our pictures on Picnik (remember those times, folks?), we can still make subtle and/or dramatic changes to our online lives. See it not as a burden, but an opportunity.
Along the same lines as changing your own profile online, you should be checking out who you follow. Just as you’re a reflection of the people you surround yourself with, the same goes for the online life. The content you choose to see is as easy to switch up as pressing a Staples’s Easy Button. Which, it basically is.
Follow people who actually inspire you. Who exude an energy you admire. The content they share uplifts you rather than dragging you down. The people behind the posts are ones you could enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with, if the time happened to arise.
Let me give you permission right now: you don’t have to follow or be Facebook friends with people you don’t even like. We put so much gravity behind numbers of followers, as if that somehow dictates our worth. As is true in real life, quality is far superior to quantity. I’ll take losing an arbitrary number on a website over losing meaningful connections with others I care about, people who add value to my online life and personal life.
What “niche” are you?
If you’re on the internet for a significant time, you probably see how blogs and content creators distinguish themselves: they have a certain “expertise” and focus to their work. They’re aiming for a greater audience size by not trying to please everyone; just some specific groups.
I fell into this wormhole myself with my blog. Yes, I thought I wanted that “dream life” of making all my money online. Turns out, maybe one percent of everyone writing a blog will actually make it a full-time gig. Not odds I would bet on.
Nonetheless, I chose a niche: wellness and faith, along the lines of a well-rounded physical, mental, and spiritual state. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in that, but at this point, I find it limiting. It traps me from talking from the heart and not just parroting information I think people want to read.
This revelation has been a huge change in my online life. It’s almost like finding a new identity, or like one part of my identity is trying to catch up with the rest of me. The things that once consumed by entire being—like mental illness—are no longer my sole topic to discuss. I realize I’m passionate about topics beyond my niche. They’re things I want to share and discuss, and no unwritten “online rules” are going to stop me.
In terms of the blogging world, I’m not as successful as I once was. I have way fewer views; I cannot even log into my Google Adsense, as if that’s a sign in of itself. But at the end of the day, I feel like I continue discovering my true essence. That’s progress that no algorithms can dictate.
Too often, when people take a shot at being the next hit online person, they fall into the capitalist machine. They’re only motivation is money, and they work tirelessly to produce the “best” content, even if that means becoming a walking commercial.
Even if you’re just an average joe online, you still can feel those same pressures. You see what’s popular, what those “standards” of success thrive, what images and people receive the most attention. That “high” you get from a well-received post is a tempting goal strive for, except it’s a fleeting, empty pleasure. It takes precious time and energy away from enduring contentment. We’re talking about satisfaction found only in experiencing life hands-on and in building relationships with fellow beings.
Wrap it all up.
To change your online life is quite simple. Take out the phone that’s probably already in your hand, pull out your laptop, and type. Plenty of people don’t even care what happens on the internet. In which case, they aren’t reading blogs. (Mama, you’re the exception.)
The internet has the double-edged-sword quality of preserving everything we post. Of course, there’s a delete button, but sometimes things can resonate long than we’d like. Not only is it human to see change over time in someone’s social media accounts, but it’s healthy. It’s the same mentality I have about careers: I could never think of doing only one thing for the rest of my life.
Change is stupendous! While it can feel painful and scary to change, it’s a million times harder to stay the same forever. Those people who are forever stuck in middle/high school are not folks to hang around.
In every aspect of life—online or otherwise—what happened yesterday is no longer in sight; it’s at the bottom of your feed long after you’ve given up scrolling. We have no idea what may pop up tomorrow, what could go viral, how any plans will transpire. What we do have is the present.
The content we consume, create, and share is in our control, our grasp. What will you do with that?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie