I saw an ad the other day for a Facebook/blog tracker. “Discover who is checking out your page/reading your blog. It’s fun!” Hell no. No, it isn’t. Let me explain. Five or six years ago, I had a blog on Myspace. I was brand-new to blogging (I still feel new to it) and didn’t edit myself much, if at all, especially in the beginning. At some point I woke up and realized that just about anyone (of my Myspace friends) could be reading it. Whoops. So then I started wondering, well, who is reading it? Then I wondered some more. And then, because I’m me, I couldn’t stop wondering. “Is Sally reading it? I think I’ve mentioned her outright and/or alluded to her a few times.” It started to drive me crazy, all that wondering. In discussing the problem with others, I learned that there were codes available for purchase that you could embed invisibly in your blog posts, and these codes would allow you to record who your readers were. Cool, I thought. Sign me up!
So began my descent into hell. Mental hell, that is. I remember reading somewhere that catnip, while it seems amusing to us, is less fun for the cat. It’s like a drug to them, and they’re powerless over it. That’s how I felt about the tracker. You see, I have what might politely (or affectionately) be described as an obsessive nature. As it turned out, giving someone with an obsessive nature fodder for obsession is never a good idea. That stupid tracker should have come with a warning label: “May cause paranoia, insomnia and obsessive behavior.” It was fun, at first. However, the tracker’s information wasn’t quite as clear as it originally implied. It wouldn’t, as an example, tell me if Peggy (names, cities and occasionally genders have been changed to protect the innocent) from Pensacola was reading my posts. It would, however, tell me that someone in Pensacola was reading them, and since I only had one friend in Pensacola, I would be able to surmise that it was Peggy. There were also some surprises. What, Joe from Jacksonville was reading? I didn’t know he cared! And Tammy from Topeka, too? Cool!
It was great when the information offered was that clear-cut, but sometimes it wasn’t. As it happened, both Sally AND Susan lived in Sturgis. There were two people viewing from Sturgis (which should have been enough information, right? Ha!), but which one was which, and how could I figure it out? Well, part of the information the tracker offered was which Internet provider the viewer was using. I just needed to know which of my friends used which provider, but how to find that out…? I certainly wasn’t going to ask Sally. I could ask Susan, but I would have to come up with a crafty way to do it. In the end, I told Susan I had a friend in the area who was unhappy with her Internet provider, and asked if Susan was happy with hers. She was. Which provider did she use? AT&T? Thanks so much! In all honesty, I felt crappy misleading Susan that way. (Susan – if you are reading this, I am so sorry. And embarrassed.) But the obsession NEEDED an answer, and now I had one. But because obsession always craves more, I was doomed to disappointment. Yes, Sally was reading the blog, but not as often as I might want (face it, it was never going to be as much as I wanted). First I felt uninteresting, then I felt unhinged. Most important, I started to feel guilty about spying on my friends.
The whole experience ended up turning me off so much that I stopped blogging altogether. Far from being fun, it was mental torture. A self-punishing act. The experience did serve to shine a light on a dark, dingy place in my psyche. As a result, I cleaned house, so to speak. So when I saw the ad, this time it didn’t hold any appeal. I fell down that rabbit hole once, and trust me, I learned my lesson. I enjoy looking at the WordPress stats to see how many people are reading these posts (hello, ego), but I find relief in the generic nature of the statistics. These days it matters less who might be reading, and more that I am writing again. That’s all. Happy Sunday!
P.S. This post was actually written in my head in the middle of the night. Avery woke for milk, the room was hot, and I didn’t get back to sleep for almost two hours. Melatonin was required.