Seeking Authenticity Over the Pursuit of Hollow Numbers

graphs display on an ipad

In my quiet corner of the world, I’m always laboring over some creation borne of my overactive mind. Whereas I used to simply share barely edited first drafts just to keep my weblogs active, I’ve stepped back to consider what product I’m giving the world. Now, each word I write is carefully chosen; each sentence is meticulously crafted. But even now, more than ever, each time I click the publish button, an all-too-familiar anxiety still creeps in and haunts me for days afterward.

I’ve learned the hard way that chasing views, likes, comments, shares, and other interactions is like grasping at shadows. They’re often elusive and ephemeral, and we can’t control them, much as the so-called “content creation gurus” may try to convince us that we do. I’ve lived through many days when my heart would soar with every spike in the analytical graphs, only to plummet days later as the numbers flatlined. It was a cruel game, one that left my spirit weary. I’d often give up writing for weeks, if not months, at a time, because of the stress of this pursuit of what were becoming increasingly hollow metrics.

But, each time I’d quit, eventually I’d recall the wisdom of an old adage: “It’s not the quantity but the quality that matters.” As I’ve grown older, I focus more on the faces behind the numbers, the real people who took the time to follow my words whenever they’d come across them. I began to think of these readers, few and far between as they might be, as fellow travelers on this winding road of life. Each like and each comment transformed from numbers on a report to something more like a whisper that says: “I hear you. I see you. I’m with you.”

Only by taking this mindset can we discover the magic of true interaction with our words. I may not receive many, but each heartfelt comment that shares a piece of a reader’s soul is precious to me. I always appreciate any share that I get on a fellow blog or on a social media account, spreading my words like dandelion seeds to new, fertile grounds. Unfortunately, most of the time, people still ignore them, but at least someone made the effort to promote my ideas.

It took me until my mid-thirties to realize that my worth isn’t found in the cold, hard stats, but in the connections I make. With this newfound clarity, my writing transformed from a practiced, methodical tone into something much more spontaneous. My words have gained a whimsical grace, each essay built on a foundation of authenticity and illustrated with poetic prose. I write mainly now about the absurdities of life, the little ironies that make me laugh and ponder. Still, I felt it important to return to what I wrote about my previous struggle with statistics, not to lament it, but to celebrate how far I’ve come in the past several years.

In the mid 2010’s, I penned several essays that I included in a series called “Struggle With Stats.” They served me well initially, but over time, they became buried as many blog posts do. I tried to revive them a few years ago, but they simply fell flat. Not only that, they were nowhere near my current standards of prose. So, this essay is a compilation of the ideas that were contained within them. 

Within that aborted series, I likened views to fleeting breezes, followers to steadfast companions, and interactions to the lifeblood that nourished my creative soul. I wrote about how each interaction was a touch, a connection, and a moment of shared humanity in the vast digital expanse. Indeed, the views still trickle in, slowly but steadily. I don’t get many comments, but occasionally I’ll receive an email about something I write. It’s these rare but delightful comments that make my heart sing and give me just a bit more motivation to keep writing. Sure, I wish that readers en masse would share their own struggles with validation, their joy in finding kindred spirits, and their gratitude for my honesty. But alas, this is apparently too much for me to expect. I simply have to accept that most readers will read in silent contentment. 

In any case, lonely as the life of a writer may be, I know I’m not alone. I’m now married to a fellow writer, photographer, and creative. While I certainly haven’t found my chorus of forgotten souls to sing my praises, it doesn’t mean that my words go entirely unheeded. After all, the thoughts, hopes, and ideas of those that lived long ago still echo through their writings today. This is why I’ve made reading works of generations past such an important aspect of my daily routine. Whenever I find myself thinking along the same lines as great minds of history, I feel a connection to a distant soul, who I can never know personally, and yet, I can still call them friend.

I’ve discovered the true measure of my success is my ongoing quest for creating quality over quantity. I must continue to visualize what content I can create to promote genuine interactions over hollow numbers. In our quest for recognition, it’s the connections we forge and the communities we build that truly matter, not the raw numbers people want to obsess over. So, let’s all take time to listen for the whispers on the digital wind. They’re out there, for sure, and I know this to be true because through writing, I met the love of my life.

~ Amelia Desertsong 

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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