What You Do Online Leaves Traces

Before I started blogging, I was a browser, surfer, lurker, searcher seeking, looking for answers, solutions, ideas, distractions online.

The bookmarks I collected grew so plentiful that it would take what felt like an age to scroll and find where I wanted to revisit.

Every now and then I would try to tidy up my bookmarks, which often ended in that disaster known as deleting everything accidentally.

Of course I could retrieve them, but sometimes I decided not to. It would feel like a fresh start… let go of the past, and let’s go and see what the present holds.

   

a scribble I did a while ago to express my phobia of the present

  

Before I started blogging… it never even occurred to me that I could start a blog. Even once I entered the fray of social media via Twitter and Facebook (accounts given to me by my partner as X-mas gifts, he wanted me to join him… I thought he was crazy giving me something I would never use, and then I used them and went crazy… crazier), I did not think of trying out blogging.

I loved following the blogs I followed. I enjoyed the benefits of their hard work writing interesting posts, sharing intriguing images, inspirations, and links to talented artists, authors, and other amazing individuals.

Then one day my niece suggested that I create a tumblr. She had a tumblr. She liked what I’d been doing on Facebook, posting images with quotes, and said that I should do that on a blog. So, after laughing it off, thinking she was crazy… I went crazy… crazier again.

  

  

At first all I did was share images, art, photography, words, quotes, creations by other people which I loved. The idea of writing a post scared me, so I avoided doing that until I stopped avoiding it.

The first few posts I wrote were very short and took hours, sometimes days, to write. Writing was agony, painful, and I drove my partner insane asking him to read and reread and just reread it one more time please I promise this’ll be the last time I ask you to do it, what I’d written and tell me if it was any good.

I was very hesitant to share my own works and words. Mainly because I was convinced that nothing I ever did was good enough, that everyone else was better than me, and that anything worth doing had already been done or was being done by others. No one else could convince me otherwise.

It was so different from how it is now… that the beast is unleashed. I write for myself, I don’t mind if it’s a mess, it doesn’t matter if it’s not good in anyone else’s eyes but mine – if I don’t like it, well, sometimes I post it anyway because I need to do that to get over a hump, an issue, or experiment on myself. I like to zap myself… shock the monkey to life.

When writing a post, I follow the advice below:

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

Before I started An Upturned Soul, I had other blogs – they’re all dead now, but they live on, traces of them can be found all over this blog (some of the early posts on here were written for my Damaged & Dangerous tumblr).

Speaking of traces… let me get to the idea behind the writing of this post.

Originally my reason for creating An Upturned Soul was as a hub for everything else I was doing online.

I have a habit, once I get into something, of overextending myself, of scattering myself in too many directions… I saw that I was doing that but I wasn’t ready to let go of anything so I created yet another thing.

Recently I deleted everything else and now only have this blog to contain my crazy.

My blog tagline originally was something along the lines of  ‘where all my cyber bubbles come together‘. I changed it to ‘sometimes I climb the walls and lie on the ceiling‘ when I shifted more of my attention here and began to share more of my story more openly.

Around that time when I focused more on this blog, my stats started to boom.

  

This is a part of the ‘Insights’ section of WordPress blog stats – the lower grid is the history of this blog summed up

  

It was both exhilarating and terrifying to have more people viewing my blog. Mostly it was terrifying because it wasn’t something I had planned on having happen (I didn’t have any plans at all as I was in discovery mode).

I have always been painfully shy, and very wary of drawing attention to myself. Attention from others towards me was something I tried to avoid and evade because I considered it a negative rather than a positive… based on life experience.

I’d had a sudden boom in attention on tumblr, a post went a bit viral overnight and I woke up to thousands of views. But that was due to my sharing an illustration by an artist… so it was attention drawn towards them and their work, not to me and my work. I was safe…

…although the artist did get pissed off at me, not directly but passive-aggressively on their tumblr because I’d shared the image from their deviantart and… blog etiquette politics can be so confusing.

I apologised to them even though… why? The image still linked to one of their online accounts and was clearly credited to them. If I remember correctly, the image was called – Oblivious. And afterwards I reblogged a bunch of their other beautiful illustrations from their tumblr.

Getting lots of attention for my own work, my writing on my blog… scared me. Then later on, once it stopped scaring me, it went to my head and I became a bit of a twat (or a different kind of twat, one with an annoying ego rather than one whose ego was pretending not to exist) – luckily that didn’t last as long as it could have.

Most of the boom in my stats had to do with a couple of posts hitting a chord with other people.

   

   

I happened to start sharing my experience of narcissists around the time that ‘Narcissists’ became a hot trending topic online.

The way I wrote and still write about narcissists has a particular spin, a peculiar personal perspective, which is distinctive and different… sometimes it’s a good kind of different which appeals to others, especially when they thought they’d run out of options, were stuck somewhere inside of themselves where they did not want to be or enjoy being stuck.

I like to try and figure things out for myself rather than just take someone else’s solution, answer, theory, word, and adopt it as my own… growing up with narcissists tends to make you do that once you realise how badly wrong you can go accepting someone else’s version of reality without questioning it.

The other day in the ‘referrers’ section of my stats (see image below), I saw a curious link:

  

To get to this section you click on Stats on the Dashboard which takes you to Traffic and Referrers is a box there, if you click on it it looks like the above.

  

I love checking out the referrers section because you can discover new blogs by clicking the link, and it can lead to some intriguing and insightful discussions of forums. I keep getting referrals from Reddit from a forum thread about ‘Goetic Evocation’… I’d never heard of that before, now I have.

The one which caught my eye was edubirdie’s plagiarism checker.

I clicked to check it out, and it’s a site which offers free and paid for services to check your thesis or other types of writing works for plagiarism. If it detects plagiarism, ‘copied words and expressions‘ in your work (or whoever’s work you’ve popped into the application) it gives you ‘a list of sources with the same content‘ which I guess may include links to blogs otherwise I’m not sure how someone was ‘referred’ by them to me.

As a blogger, having your posts plagiarised is a fairly common occurrence. Especially your popular posts.

Here are links to excellent posts on great blogs about their experiences of plagiarism:

Forever Amber – Single White Female Syndrome: Dealing With Online Imitators and Blog Copycats

The Narcissistic Continuum – Blogduggery: Where Are You on the Plagiarism Spectrum?

The Narcissistic Continuum – BlogDuggery Part Two: This Is Not Okay EVEN IF You’re In Recovery

Being inspired by a blogger’s writing and posting style is one thing, it’s something most bloggers do because bloggers follow other blogs, like and love what someone else is doing, and may want to try it out, improve their own style… that’s artistry, that’s creativity.

“When you have wit of your own, it’s a pleasure to credit other people for theirs.”


― Criss Jami, Killosophy

Borrowing another blogger’s entire post or portions of their posts and then posting it as your own work, or publishing it as a book without giving credit to your sources, and copyrighting “your” work up the wazoo in case anyone borrows from you what you’ve borrowed from others… that’s another thing entirely.

“Plagiarism is the fear of a blank page.”

― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

If you look at the first image I posted of my blog’s stats, the ‘Insights’ page, and check out the Posting Activity grid for December 2017 to November 2018, you’ll see a lot of blanks marking the days I didn’t post anything. April is a completely blank page of a month.

During that time, when I wasn’t working, I was very busy doing some rather anxiety-provoking and strenuous DIY which left me without much time to do anything else other than sleep.

But that’s not why I didn’t write posts.

I can, if I want to, always find time to write a post. I write very quickly and furiously once I’m in the zone and the flow is flowing.

During that time… I’d lost my love of and for blogging. I’d log in, open a New Post and just stare at the blank page feeling utterly uninspired, heavy, bored with myself, pointless, and… tempted to delete all traces of my existence from the internet.

I’d browse the reader, visit other blogs… and saw people chatting and tapping away merrily, creating creative creations, playing together, dancing to the beat of their beautiful drums… and I just… looked away.

My stats kept humming along at a regular pace whether I posted or not. Yes, they’ve fallen away over the years after they peaked, and they’ll probably keep falling as they seem to be following an arc… I wonder if there’s a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow when it reaches the end.

“To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments.

To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.”


― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

And then, just when I thought this experience had finally reached its natural ending, shortly after I kind of gave up on it all… I came back. And rediscovered the purpose of my blog and renewed my love of and for blogging.

When faced with a blank page, one of the things I like to do is explore my Stats. Especially the ‘Search Terms’ section… because sometimes it offers wonderful writing prompts.

   

   

If I hadn’t already had an idea for today, I might have explored the search terms… the one I like the most from that selection is: my capricorn friend thinks im sweet

Why do I like it? Because it’s very personal.

You can almost feel the energy in the fingers which typed that into the browser’s search bar. There’s a sense of something special dawning – is it a relationship between two people, or is it someone who has discovered thanks to someone else that there is something within them which is especially sweet… maybe they’ve never perceived themselves as sweet before.

And that would remind me of similar moments when I suddenly became aware that maybe I wasn’t who I thought I was, or that there was more to me than the limiting definitions I’d held of myself, perhaps I’d write something about that…

Or maybe I’d write about being a Capricorn and how we’re not always the sociopaths that other signs seem to think we are… unless that particular Capricorn just took a bite of that searcher and mmm, tasted sweet.

Okay, time to wrap things up here…

On a final note,

I’d like to thank Teresa of The Haunted Wordsmith, for including me in her Follow Friday – Blog Style

and thank you also to Rory of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip for reblogging Teresa’s Follow Friday – Blog Style post.

Thank you both for sharing!

Here’s a peek at my Stats for the post you linked to:

  

post summary and overall blog visitors and views… wtf was so popular on July 6th, 2016?

  

The thing about Stats… is that they’re flexible. You can use them and read them however you choose. They don’t mind if you ignore them…

As far as I can recall I don’t think I even knew what or where my WordPress stats were (I could see the blue lines on my dashboard but I thought they were a decoration) until several months into blogging, and at that point I did what a lot of bloggers do, and played the ‘I don’t care about my stats‘ game – it sort of helps to play that game until you’re ready to go there, face that, learn what it all means and figure out how you want to work with it.

But the most important thing about stats is that stats are people… just as you are a people.

Each view, each visitor, each Like, each comment, each referrer, each Follower, each search term, etc, connects you to another you, person to person, people to people.

We’re all talking, communicating with each other, directly and indirectly… soul to soul.

  

Blogging by Dave Whamond

  

Q: If you write a blog, and no one reads it, is it still a blog?

A: Yes. And there is someone reading it, right… you do read your own posts, don’t you?

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.

It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”


― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Featured image from Wrong Hands | Cartoons by John Atkinson


6 thoughts on “What You Do Online Leaves Traces

Add yours

    1. Thank you very much, Rory 🙂

      Speaking of great posts, your – The Father I Never Knew – series is brilliant! Thank you for sharing yourself that way. It’s so many levels and layers of stories within stories within people. Very brave and generous of you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Ursula – when l started the Father series l thought l would find answers to so many questions l ahd with regards my Father.

        Those particular questions have not been answered directly, indirectly and partially – yes. But what l have noticed during this journey is that l have had answers awarded me, that l never had questions for and that is equally as fascinating.

        It allows your mind to look at things from a completely different ‘Oh, l hadn’t thought of that before’ perspective 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Love 💜your “scribble” (as you called it)! The anxiety of the present, the surprise. The concept of surprise, who is it really for?

    I stopped sharing my writings on FB because no one was reading them(maybe because lengthy doesn’t fit into the fast pace🤔) which was how I stumbled across WP. I feel more appreciated here. Actually, you were one of the first blogs I followed, ah memories😉

    Like

    1. Thank you very much, Scherezade 🙂

      Originally I viewed my ‘gift-phobia’ as being due to having N parents, you know how every gift they give you comes with all these strings attached… it’s never just a present, it’s always something else and it’s always about them. My fear of gifts drove my partner nuts because he’d want to buy me gifts, but he knew I’d freak out so he stopped buying me anything. Took me until recently to stop doing that and be more ‘normal’ about it.

      But when I connected that scribble to this post, it suddenly dawned on me that because present = both a gift and a time… hmmmm… maybe it’s also a certain fear of the present. The surprises that life can suddenly give us. And yes, who is it really for indeed! 😉

      FB is a weird place. When I had my very first blog I got an FB Page to go with it. I also shared the running of that page with a ‘friend’ I met on Twitter and friended on FB. Learned quite a bit from that experience, and it inspired quite a few posts.

      I think FB is more about people posting posts on their TL rather than about people reading posts. Whereas WordPress is an equal amount of people posting and reading posts. It’s a friendlier community, and creativity is welcome and encouraged.

      What you’re doing now with your posts is awesome. You’ve got a wonderful mix of things going on, all of which are so cool. Love it! You did that introvert thing before that I also did when I began. Takes time for an introvert to warm up and feel comfortable, but once we feel comfortable and are warmed up… watch out world! I can feel you growing more confidant in your sharing of yourself and your uniqueness. It’s lovely to behold, and I’m so glad you’re sharing! Are you still writing your book or did you shelve it for now?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the kind words! I feel a “growth” happening, maybe from all the love here; it’s inspiring to know that people are reading your stuff and not judging it. It’s freedom.

        I’m still writing it…and a second one too…I’m on hold for right now because i just started working a night job and still getting used to substituting my late night writing hours to the elderly. During my downtime the most I can do is pen a quick poem or a rambling.

        Liked by 1 person

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