I’ve been reflecting on the concept of ‘sharing’ lately. I don’t mean the act of publishing something – like a blog post. I mean after it’s out there, proactively promoting it – via social media or any other means, in order to get more eyes on it.
I think this train of thought was partly inspired by my relatively recent venture into the world of Instagram – and my struggle to understand the purpose of that platform, and the value of it. Despite the positives possible in it, largely, it feels like a vehicle for vanity and superficial competition…fluff, in other words.
But my thinking isn’t confined to simply Instagram.
My critical thoughts – the negatives I perceive from these platforms – came out in the recent piece entitled “Attention Please”.
And with it being Hajj season now, and my having tons of Hajj-related content I’ve written over the years, I felt this slight pull of wanting to be ‘relevant’…wanting to put something out that would catch onto the current wave of Hajj-related interest in the world.
But I have nothing new to say. Not this year, at least.
In the years since we got back, I’ve exhausted all I have to say, and the memories are faded to the point where I can’t even remember the feelings much anymore.
I could, of course, simply recycle one of my old pieces – which are still very much relevant now.
But I resisted the urge to do so. What I did recycle was simply a visual summary which I compiled last year, because I felt that it was a good opportunity to share that with people of other faiths who have followed this blog in the last year and didn’t see it back then.
But that post was not my content. Not my writing. I didn’t want to even try to write anything new about Hajj right now – because it would feel forced.
I feel like – over the years – much of my best writing has never been written for an audience. It was always just me writing what I needed to. It was for me. I wasn’t trying to convey anything to anyone. I was just writing what needed expression.
And because of that, I think, it was sincere.
And that’s something I feel is under such tremendous threat when it comes to the attention-seeking pull of social media platforms. But – for the most part – I’ve never chased after attention via those mechanisms.
I’ve never needed anyone’s recognition – because this output was never for them.
If someone took benefit, Alhamdullilah – wonderful. And if they expressed that to me via a comment or a message, even better – because I got to know that those words had an impact.
But that was as far as it went.
I was always reluctant to share my stuff on social media – Facebook being the primary platform available to me, and later WhatsApp. But always with very specifically-chosen people (because those platforms allow such granular control).
I’ve done it a lot more in the last couple of years, but still not as much as perhaps others do when they put something out.
I feel like with these platforms, there’s always this constant pressure – even if it be subtle – to post things. To reach people.
And I don’t want to feel that. I don’t want that to be the focus.
I want to be – as I have been all these years since I’ve had my blog – simply doing what I do, without feeling the need to broadcast or publicise it.
People talk about how – if you’ve produced something good, why wouldn’t you want people to read /see it? How will it have an impact if nobody knows about it?
And while I certainly see the logic in that argument, there’s still an instinct in me that says: “No. I’m not here to seek attention. What is meant to reach certain people will reach them.”
The hidden reality
You see, in this world of media and communication technology, everything is measured. Statistics tell us how many people we reached; where they’re from; engagement with our content; etc.
So the logic is that the more you publicise something, the greater the chance it’ll reach more people. And the more people it reaches, the greater the chance of it benefiting a larger audience.
But that’s how it looks on the surface.
There’s a deeper reality which we cannot see. An underbelly that we do not understand. An unseen world that we have no access to – yet that’s the realm in which the real impact occurs.
Whether something actually influences the reader / viewer is only in the control of the Almighty – Who controls the hearts.
You could have 200 views and dozens of ‘likes’ – but it could amount to zero impact. Social media moves fast. Content is refreshed literally all the time. Often, a ‘Like’ / star / heart is nothing more than an acknowledgement that your content has been seen – or partially seen. But your reader likely moves onto something else, and what you put out didn’t impact them.
Sometimes it does. But, I would venture to say, most times it does not.
Keeping it real
And so for me, there’s no point at all to chasing statistics. What’s more important is to ensure that my own intention is pure. That I’m writing / producing something with sincerity. And if it’s meant for others, that my message comes from the heart – whether I’m trying to encourage, call to action, or inspire others.
An old saying tells us that what comes from the heart goes to the heart.
And that, really, needs to be the basis of what I do – when it’s written for an audience, at least.
When I do share or broadcast things, I want to do so because I genuinely feel that the content will make a positive impact on others.
And, honestly, that has become more difficult since I started using more social platforms. Because – as I said – there’s this force within them that pulls you to always be posting stuff, and always be looking for attention. At least, that’s the energy I feel a lot of the time on these platforms.
Maybe it’s different for you.
The extreme reaction would be to simply abandon them all and go back to the beginning – return to basics. This blog would simply exist on its own, and I would never again spread anything via social media or instant messaging tools.
The other option would be to attempt to find balance: focus mainly on what I’ve always loved to do (writing and photography…though recently, custom graphics have been added to the repertoire), and then be very selective when it comes to publicising things.
That’s a more difficult route, but it may be the middle ground I’m looking for.
Either way, it’s something I’ll need to figure out and struggle through.
And I hope – by the end of it – the new status quo will be one wherein I retain the essence of why I publish what I publish.
What about you guys? What are your thoughts on publicising your writing / output via these platforms? Do you do it? Do you feel insincere or negative energy when you do?