I am unduly influenced by the Like button. I suspect we all are. I notice when a blog post or Facebook link gets more Likes or fewer Likes or no Likes at all. It affects me, I think, when I consider writing, or at least posting, similar material.
This, even though I don’t trust analytics. How can I, for example, get 20 Facebook Likes for an essay that WordPress insists was only read nine times? If I cared a great deal, I would investigate phenomena like that and learn how to interpret analytics, but I don’t care a great deal.
I do care a little bit, though, and so I pause before I post stuff that has not been overly Liked in the past. And in the back of my mind, this nags me.
That’s because some of the UnLiked posts come from my deepest core, and what person easily shares stuff from her deepest core to begin with? In this way the Like button becomes a disincentive to authenticity — “Oh, my small cadre of readers doesn’t Like it when I try to be real, so …”
There is an easy/hard solution to this dilemma: Just post what feels real and don’t worry whether anyone Likes it. Get it out there and believe it will find its audience someday. After all, if I do take a moment to worry about Likes, I notice a recent small increase in Likes for posts that are weeks, months and even years old.
I have to write, and I’ve made a commitment to post something I’ve written daily. I try never to “phone one in,” but some posts do reflect the deepest heart of me more than others; that’s just how daily habits work. A nice little string of Likes is gratifying, but probably the most important advice is from a basketball coach I deeply admire, Dick Bennett, who warned players not to get too down about a loss or too giddy about a win, just go out and play the game your way every day.
Like it or not, that’s what I aim to do.