If Facebook was real life.

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I’m sitting in a group therapy session for people with complex PTSD and other problems caused by childhood trauma, telling the group about the chain of events that led to my becoming the family blacksheep.   Tears trickle down my cheeks as I relate how victimized I felt by my family.  The two people on either side of me reach out to touch my shoulders.   I feel the beginning of connection, of a sense of belonging and community I never had at home, or anyplace at all.    I feel safe in this place.  I feel like my secrets will never go beyond the confines of this room.   Outside, the world may be dangerous and unfriendly, swarming with treacherous and cold-hearted people who wish me ill, but inside these walls, I feel welcomed and loved.

Suddenly the door opens.   It’s my niece, who I’ve met exactly three times in my life.  I haven’t seen her since she was a little girl.   She’s armed with an album of photos of her latest vacation and the big party the extended family threw for her on the birth of her latest child.  I wasn’t invited to this party.   She walks over to me and starts shoving the the pictures in my face, making me look.    I politely shuffle through the stack, then hand them back to her.  I feel violated and envious.  “Do you like them?” she demands.  She won’t leave until I say I do.  Apparently satisfied, she leaves.

Then someone I barely know from an old job walks in the room.  He tells me his business has really started taking off and he’s raking in so much money he is having a custom vacation home built right on the beach.   He shows me pictures of the house-in-progress he and his gorgeous new wife are building.  “Oh, yes, and we just found out she’s pregnant–with twins!” he crows.  Finally, he leaves.   I turn toward the group, ready to apologize for the rude intrusion.

But I never have a chance, because then my daughter’s  BFF from her middle school days bursts through the door, crying and cussing because her babydaddy is back on drugs and hasn’t payed child support in over a year.    My polite but sympathetic nods constitute a “Like” and satisfied with that, she leaves.   My boundaries feel like they’re under siege by this point.  I turn back toward the group, but am interrupted again.

Some stranger walks in and shoves a piece of paper at me.  I look down at it,  It’s a test called  “Which Celebrity Pet Do You Look The Most Like?”  Annoyed, I crumple it up and toss it on the floor.

A guy I’ve never seen before but who calls me “Friend”  invites me to play a game.   He starts tossing game cards at me, which contain pictures of things like barrels of apples, litters of piglets, bushels of wheat, and clucking hens.

Stop, please!  I want this room to be my sanctuary again.   I feel inhibited and self conscious now, because at any moment some random person from my past, a random relative, someone from an old job, or an old classmate might invade the room again, crashing over my boundaries.  No place is safe.

I have one more visitor.    My mother enters the room, fixes me with a penetrating stare, and tells me she heard everything I said about her in this room before all the interruptions started.    I feel like the floor just dropped out from under me, leaving me stranded in mid-air.   I stare at my mother.  Her eyes are opaque and unreadable, but her small, knowing smirk tells me everything I need to know.

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Why I love Twitter.

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It wasn’t love at first sight.

When Twitter first came out, I didn’t get it.    I hated having to edit my thoughts down to 140 characters.   It seemed stupid and pointless to me.   As an INFJ who tends to like to ramble on and analyze everything down to its molecular structure, keeping my thoughts and feelings so constricted seemed impossible and what’s more, it seemed so shallow.  I had the idea that Twitter was nothing more than celebrities and other notable people with “verified accounts” “tweeting” about the most inane banalities of their glamorous, perfect, exciting  lives–and everyone else just trying to collect as many followers as they could.  What could you say in 140 characters?  Not much, it seemed.  Oh, how wrong I was, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

There might have also been something about its name.  “Twitter” and the term “tweet”  just seemed so childish and dumb.   But after all, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

I gave up on Twitter for awhile out of sheer frustration.  I wanted to be able to pontificate and ramble on as long as I pleased.  Blogging, of course, allowed me to do that.    But when I began to blog, I realized that sharing to Twitter is important in getting more views and exposure.    At first, I used it almost exclusively to share my posts, and rarely “tweeted” anything.  I still don’t really tweet a whole lot but I’m starting to more than ever before.

It helps you slim down “fat” writing.

I’m finally getting the hang how to use Twitter effectively.  It’s a skill you have to learn. I’m actually finding that the art of composing a tweet is a great exercise for writers who tend to write overly descriptive “purple prose,” like I do.   In a tweet, it’s entirely possible to still get a lot of “meat” in those 140 characters, but you have to cut out all the “fat.”   That’s something most writers can benefit from–getting down to the meat and bones of an issue.

Deep thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Some Twitter uses are masters at composing compelling, interesting, hilarious tweets that actually contain a lot more depth than you’d ever think possible.  Some are so good they’ve gone viral.   Some are even profound.   These tweets become quotable.   Sure, Twitter is also a platform for celebrities to blather on mindlessly about their charmed lives and for non-thinking nonfamous Tweeters to comment on the most inane, banal things you can imagine, but for many of us, especially those of us who write,  Twitter forces you to think first about what you have to say and say only what is important.  You learn to streamline your writing and organize your thoughts in a clear and direct manner.  It’s a real skill and it takes time to learn to compose a good tweet.

There’s lots more to love.

There are other things I like about Twitter too.    I can’t speak for others, but for me, I don’t have to worry about family members and people from other areas of my life outside my blogging life seeing my tweets (probably because so few people I know IRL even use Twitter).   Unfortunately on Facebook and LinkedIn I have that problem (the boundaries of different areas of my life merging together in a most unsettling way), so I can’t always share all my posts on either of those platforms.   There also seems to be very little drama on Twitter.   Again, maybe that’s just my own experience though.  My Twitter followers don’t like wasting their 140 characters to troll someone.

I also like the simplicity of Twitter.  It’s a lot easier to use and navigate than Facebook, which has become way too cluttered with apps, digital bells and whistles, ads, invitations for games, too many features, and just way too complicated overall.   Twitter has only what you need and that makes it a lot easier to use.

I also like the real time feel of Twitter.   You get news and relevant information quicker than on any other social media site.  My feed continually supplies me with teasers and links to news stories and articles that are in line with my interests.   If the tweet looks compelling, I can click it on and read the whole story, without having to slog through 1,675 badly written words to get the gist of what someone is trying to say.   It’s all right there in one or two concise lines and I can scan through my feed and choose what to look at right then and there.

I also like Twitter because it seems my posts get the most views and shares there (outside of Facebook, when I do share articles there, which is only about half the time).   I’ve also made more friends on Twitter that share my exact interests more than anywhere else.  People are always retweeting your stuff and most of my Twitter followers have found me and my blog that way.

Twitter isn’t just for twits.

I read recently that Twitter is having problems and its growth has been slowing, mostly because people just don’t “get” it.  Like I did at first, a lot of people have this idea Twitter is for shallow people with shallow interests. Again, it could be that name, which can be offputting.  Facebook continues to grow like a cyber-cancer swallowing up everything in its path, but in my opinion, it’s lost any original attractiveness it may once have had (if it ever had any), and has  become something vaguely unpleasant, like a summer cold or a surprise visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I try to avoid it when I can, which isn’t easy to do.

As far as other social media, I think there are limitations to their appeal.  I don’t use Pinterest or WhatsApp,  I have a Reddit account but don’t really understand how it works, Tumblr is basically just a blogging site (I do share my posts there too), Instagram is for photos, and  LinkedIn bores me most of the time and is even more confusing to use than Facebook.   Stumble Upon is fun and a great way to share your posts (and they do get views!) and also find articles in line with your interests, but it’s not a social media site in the sense that the others are.   If I could only use one social media site, I’d pick Twitter.  I hope it’s around forever.

I should stay the hell off Facebook.

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I’ve hated Facebook for a long time, and last night reminded me of one of the biggest reasons why.   My mother’s entire side of the family is on Facebook, and of course I just *had* to go look at their profiles and see what everyone is up to.   I don’t know why I do that, since every time I do, I’m always blindsided by a tidal wave of envy.  Last night was no exception.

A niece, who is twenty years younger than I am, appears to have a storybook life, at least the way she presents herself on Facebook.  She appears to have all the following going for her: She is happily married, her adorable  husband just opened a high-end restaurant to rave reviews, they just finished building a house near the ocean, she gave birth to a third perfect child a few months ago (natural childbirth, of course), her children are disgustingly beautiful, she always looks fit and well put together, she always looks ecstatic in her photos, and she gets a ton of comments–like hundreds of comments from their scads of friends and of course the extended family–telling her how beautiful and perfect she and her family and everything else are.  Oh, and they just got back from a vacation too.  She has the love and acceptance of my mother and all of her extended family.  And she’s not alone.  Everyone else on that side of the family seems to have a perfect life too.   I always imagine (and probably imagine correctly) that they all look down on me.

Do I sound envious?  I guess you could say I am.   I don’t have the sort of happy, successful, perfect, monied life my mother and her extended family value.  Because I “failed,” I’ve been devalued and am seen as an embarrassment and source of shame, which is the real reason why I’m never invited to any family functions, not that I’d go anyway.   The sad thing is, as the family scapegoat, I was set up to be the family black sheep and never be able to have a life like that.

I need to quit Facebook.  I really hate it.  All that perfection makes me want to HURL!

Like Chinese water torture.

This is also the reason why I could never live with my ex again (well, one of many!) In this short conversation, my son was asking his father to please stop spamming his Facebook timeline with negative opinions about certain political candidates, because people my son works with, including his boss read his Facebook page. He’s also friends with his boss in spite of their opposite political leanings. He has asked his father to stop doing this in the past, and has had to block him before because he wouldn’t stop. Watch the way his father takes NO responsibility for his inappropriate behavior and then tries to turn my son into “the bad guy” by making him block him AGAIN. I know EXACTLY what he’s talking about because I also went through this same sort of crap with him over and over again (and he finally blocked ME–good riddance, I say!)  He’s the king of subtle gaslighting, blame shifting and denial.

It seems like a small thing,  maybe if this was an isolated incident it wouldn’t be a big deal–but imagine this type of irritation happening over and over and over, many times a day.  It was crazymaking in the extreme!  I like the way my son handled it:  “Dude. Relax.”

 

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F*ck you, Facebook.

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I’ve always had mixed feelings about Facebook.  I know it’s the best platform on which to share blog posts, but my problem is the nature of my blog.  Much of what I write is highly personal or about my family, and people from many different areas of my life, including family members, are Facebook friends or at least know where to find me even if they are not friends.  Even though I changed the spelling of my first name on Facebook, most people who want to can still find me there.   You’re not allowed to create a second account (although I suppose it could be done using a second email address) or use a handle.

I guess I could set up a “page” connected with this blog, but that page would still be  attached to my main account, so when I press the “share” button under a post, it gets posted to my main account, not an associated page.    I don’t want family members, people I know from work or from past jobs, neighbors, and my kids’ friends reading certain of my posts.  Since I do share some of my posts to Facebook,  if someone REALLY wanted to read my other stuff, they could find it fairly easily by browsing through my blog, but I don’t want to call attention to those posts to people who have no business reading them.

It sucks because blog posts on Facebook always get the most shares.  I’ve had some posts that were shared over 200 times by others.  One post has over 1000 shares.   But I have to rely on others to share my posts.  I can only share the less personal ones there.

I don’t have this same problem with other social media because I don’t use my real name on those accounts and they were set up for the primary purpose of sharing blog posts.   Facebook (and to some extent, LinkedIn) is a different story, because I’ve had my account there since 2008 and had no blog until 2014.   I’m tempted to delete my Facebook and start over under a fake name, but then I’ll lose all my contacts.   I’m not sure how to get around this issue.  I don’t really like Facebook much anyway and I never have.

F*ck you, Facebook.

Further reading:

When My Worlds Collide

10 Reasons Why Facebook Drives Me Insane

 

Blogging 101: you don’t need to pay for SEO

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If you’re like me and want to increase your visibility on the web, you might be tempted to take advantage of those email ads promising instant visibility for a fee: search engine optimization. If you’re not familiar with the term, search engine optimization (SEO) is a service provided by individuals and companies that will put your blog or website and its articles on the top of Google and other search engines. But commercial SEO is expensive and unnecessary. You can optimize your own blog, using some simple tricks, and it costs nothing. All you need is a little patience.

I’ve written other articles about how to write a post people want to read, so here I won’t be focusing so much on how to write interesting and engaging articles, because that’s really another topic. Of course good writing and good looking posts are important, but here I’ll be focusing mainly on how to get the most out of things like social media share buttons, tags, categories, pingbacks/trackbacks, linking, and other tricks that generate maximum traffic to your blog.

1. The title is everything.
Make your titles short and catchy–and maybe a little sassy or controversial too.
This is really part of writing an engaging article but it belongs here because the title is SO important. Titles that are too long and sound like the title of a Ph.D thesis get ignored. It doesn’t matter how interesting or well written your article is. If the title is boring or pretentious, people assume what you have to say is boring or pretentious, and will skip over it. Try to be creative but not so creative your title has nothing to do with the article.

2. Use the Share buttons.
I can’t tell you how important this is. If you’re a WordPress blogger, the share buttons are available through the Dashboard, and include almost all the most popular and well known social media sites. You can also add your own, if the site you want a share button for isn’t available. Even if you can’t stand social media, other people reading your article will use the buttons and do your dirty work for you. I’ve had articles that reached 1K+ shares to Facebook, which would not have been possible without the share buttons. If the buttons aren’t there, chances are no one will bother to share them, even if they enjoyed your article.

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3. Use tags and categories.
Be careful with this. I have a bad habit of using too many tags and categories per post. It’s best to choose tags that are relevant to the post, but are no more than one or two words long. Categories are more general and you should use fewer of them than tags. For example, if you wrote an article about why cats shouldn’t be declawed, the categories you would use should be something like: cats, animals, pets, veterinary medicine. The tags could be more specific–unethical veterinary practices, declawing a cat, pets, animals, cats, animal cruelty. It’s okay to repeat your tags and categories, but the tags would be more specific, while the categories are more general. The reason why tags and categories are important is because when someone is doing a Google (or other search engine) search, the tags will refer to your article so it will be listed on the search engine page. Using too few tags means your article may get fewer hits (because people use more than one word or phrase to search for something), but using too many isn’t good either (though I’m not sure what the reason is, and I’m guilty of it).

4. Post every day.
If you’re a serious blogger, you should write at least one article a day. If you only post once a month or once a year, people aren’t going to bother to keep checking your blog for new material (of course, not all bloggers care about visibility and are writing primarily for themselves and that’s okay too, but if you’re that kind of blogger, you have no use for this article anyway).

There will be days you can’t think of anything original or are just too tired to write, so then it’s okay to reblog someone else’s post, post a video you like, a funny or attractive photograph, a joke, a meme, or what have you. But make sure you do post original material often. People will lose interest in a blog that’s nothing but a compendium of other people’s material.

5. Use Twitter #hashtags.
Even if you dislike Twitter (many people do, because of the 140 character limit), if you want to promote your blog, every so often you should choose articles you want to promote or think may generate interest and post it to Twitter with hashtags. If your blog is set up to automatically share to Twitter (as mine is), you can’t add hashtags to the initial share, but later on you can reshare it and manually use hashtags. Hashtags act like tags, and will generate more traffic because when people search for a term using a hashtag, your article will come up in the list if you have tagged it that way. For example, an article about baking chocolate chip cookies could have hashtags like #baking, #cookies, #desserts, #sweets. Unfortunately, hashtags can be one word only, unless you put two or more words together as one, such as #chocolatechipcookie. You should do this only if it’s a term you think people will actually search for. #chocolatechipbananacookies probably won’t work. Keep in mind that due to the 140 character limit on tweets, you can’t use more than 2 or 3 hashtags, so choose them wisely.

Here’s what I do. Every few weeks or so, I pull up my stats page and check which articles are getting the most views and shares (sometimes the most popular ones surprise me!) Since these articles are already getting a lot of hits, I’ll reshare them to Twitter, this time using hashtags, to capitalize on the article’s popularity and generate even more hits. Also, if there’s an article I really like but it seems to be getting ignored, I’ll give it another chance by hashtagging it. Sometimes this works too, and the article suddenly gets noticed even though it didn’t the first time around.

6. Be a necromancer.
Every so often (but not too often!), you can give an old article new life by resharing it. You might want to do this for an article you’re especially proud of or ones that are already getting a lot of hits since those articles are resonating with people anyway. By resharing an article that resonates, your hits will reach the stratosphere.

When you reshare a post to Twitter, you should also reshare to other social media as well. On Facebook, be sure to set it up so anyone can see it, on or off Facebook, not just your friends. At the top of each post, there’s an option for this. The little globe means anyone on or off Facebook can see it.

Set up accounts on other social media too, just to share your articles. I have a Tumblr account I never use other than to share my articles.

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Credit: Necromancer / Deviantart

7. Link to other blogs or websites.
Not only will other bloggers like you (and maybe follow you back) if you give them credit or quote them in your posts, linking to their article generates a trackback or a pingback, which appears on their site under the article itself or in the comments section. The curious may click on the pingback, which will take them to your article.

8. Love your haters.
You might hate having haters (I sure do and will probably never be comfortable with it), but having haters also means your blog is getting noticed. Haters generate traffic. A controversial article will get noticed and that means more hits for you, and your haters and detractors might even share it too. My haters have actually unintentionally brought me new followers, so I do appreciate them for that. That doesn’t mean you should write something controversial or incendiary just to get hits (because that’s basically just being a troll), but it does mean you should be able to write about what YOU want, even if it’s an unpopular opinion or idea.

Since I run ads on this blog, I like to tell my haters that I make money off them every time they visit (it’s only pennies, and I don’t do this for the money anyway, but saying that usually shuts them up).

9. Self-generating hits.
If you do all or most of the above things, there probably will come a time when certain of your articles become self-promoting. That allows you to rest on your laurels a little bit (but only a little). An example is my “20 Songs About Narcissism” list, which was split into two articles so I didn’t have to put too many videos in the same article. If you Google “songs about narcissism” these two articles now appear at the top of page one! That wasn’t the case when I posted them. I think they were on page 16 or something. It happened because as those articles’ Google rank began to rise over time (due to my promoting them), their higher placement generated even more traffic, without my having to do anything. Since there are a lot of people apparently Googling songs about narcissism, and my articles are the first thing they see, they continue to get a lot of hits, and I don’t have to do anything at all to promote them!

So that’s basically how SEO works. All you need is patience and the willingness to pimp your blog in the ways I’ve outlined and watch your Google rank rise and the hits start popping like Jiffy Pop.

Of course, if you’re not patient and can’t do without “instant gratification,” you can always pay for SEO too.

Also see 12 Ways for Non-Lazy Bloggers to Get More Hits.

For even more of my articles about writing and blogging (and how to handle trolls and bullies), see “The Art of Blogging” topic in the header.

Graphic example of how Facebook feeds narcissism in young women.

Young girl using laptop on Facebook page

Okay, so my daughter isn’t exactly a kid anymore, since she’s 22, but she’s still young enough that she likes participating in those awful Facebook groups where random people rank your photo based on how attractive they think you are.

Her profile picture was ranked along with 3 other girls in this group.
Here she sums up what happened.

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She got a lot of comments telling her not to be upset, or that people were just jealous of her good looks (she is very pretty, but I didn’t see the photos of the other girls). This morning she told me her feelings were still hurt today in spite of encouraging comments she got from her friends and boyfriend who kept telling her how beautiful she is.

This sort of thing isn’t unusual. It happens every day, all over social media. Not only can such online “contests” lead to bullying based on one’s appearance by total strangers, but they also feed a girl’s narcissistic supply or cause narcissistic injury, even in non-narcissists (my daughter does not have NPD, but can act very narcissistic). Let’s be honest here–we all have some need for narcissistic supply (positive feedback), especially when we’re still young and unsure of our place in the world.

The teenage and young adult women who participate in these contests learn to value surface attributes such as physical appearance or sexiness above anything else. I see it happening everywhere. Millennial girls seem more obsessed with how cute, sexy or pretty they are than any generation that came before them, and I think this is due to the plethora of reality shows, beauty contests and Facebook photo rankings they are inundated with, as well as the trend for taking as many Selfies or Youtube videos of yourself as you possibly can and posting them for the public to see and comment on. This seems to be a generation with more than its fair share of female somatic narcissists and girls with HPD (histrionic personality disorder).

I can’t keep my daughter from participating in these sort of activities since she’s an adult and she seems to enjoy them (and usually gets a lot of compliments about how pretty she is), but I worry about a “low ranking” (which really wasn’t that bad) like she got yesterday damaging her self esteem (which is shaky to start with) or teaching her to value physical appearance above other qualities like personality, intelligence, or kindness.

12 ways for for non-lazy bloggers to get more hits.

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There are many casual bloggers who only blog for themselves or their friends. They don’t care about views, hits or visibility, and have never looked at their stats page, and that is perfectly okay. Casual bloggers can write one blog post a year and it won’t matter because the few views they get are all they care about anyway. Their sole reason for blogging is to share their thoughts, feelings or pictures with a few friends–or just get them down “on paper,” so to speak. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that.
So if you’re a casual type of blogger who blogs only for yourself or your friends or family, this article will not apply to you.

But if you’re a serious blogger, like I am, you will want to increase your readership, get more views, and be more visible on the web. I think for most of us, the primary reason we blog is for the love of it and to share our thoughts with others, but let’s be honest: that isn’t quite enough. For aspiring writers like me, maximum visibility is important because visibility helps us promote our writing. Blogging can act as a springboard to other things. An active and well-known blog can be parlayed into a writing career or even the eventual publication of a book.

If you’re a serious blogger, you can’t be lazy. You have to work hard at it, and it becomes a job. A fun job to be sure, but still a job. So I am going to give you some pointers for how to promote your blog and get as much visibility as possible. I’ve been blogging for almost a year now, and have learned enough about this along the way that I think my advice can help you too.

1. The most important thing is to write every day.
I’m serious. I’ve noticed that if I skip even ONE DAY without writing a new post, my viewership declines and I get fewer hits. Until you’re really well established or have a really famous blog (which most of us don’t), you cannot rest on the laurels of your last well-received and popular blog post. You must keep writing. Of course there will be days you can’t think of an original idea or are simply too tired to write anything original. In that case, it’s okay to post a photo, meme, cartoon, or reblog someone else’s article. If you do reblog an article though, try to write at least a paragraph or two introducing it and explaining why you’re reblogging it. Don’t reblog just for the sake of posting something. Make sure it’s something you really like or that resonates with you. Your readers will pick up your enthusiasm if you write an intro. But be careful not to do this to often. If you hardly ever post original material, people will lose interest in your blog because it becomes nothing more than a platform to promote the material of others.

2. Have a good looking blog.
WordPress has many themes and many of them are free. I think the majority of them are tasteful and easy on the eyes, and they are easy to set up. If you run ads on your blog (you won’t be doing this unless you’re a serious blogger anyway), be careful about having too many other graphics and widgets on your blog. I’m probably guilty of this, because my sidebar looks like a widget sardine can, but I can’t bring myself to delete any of them. But I don’t think this blog looks too “busy.” Don’t use background colors and patterns that are hard on the eyes or that clash with the content. Use a font that’s easy to read, not just because you think it looks “cool.”

3. No walls of text!
If you write long articles, it’s best to break them up into subheaders, “listicles” (numbered lists), or use graphics and pictures. Google Image is great for finding the perfect graphic for an article, or if you’re a good photographer, you can take your own pictures.

4. Reply to your comments.
This should be a no-brainer. If you allow comments but don’t answer them, people will think you’re a snob or that you don’t care. If you get many comments, it may not be practical to answer all of them, but at least “Like” them to let the commenter know you saw their comment. There is of course the option to not allow comments at all (which may be necessary if you are being stalked or bullied excessively) but if you want your blog to grow, I don’t recommend this. Blogging should be an interactive activity, and if you don’t allow comments, people will think you only care about your own opinion and will probably lose interest eventually. Also, don’t run people off by not allowing them to disagree with you. There’s a big difference between someone who merely disagrees with something you wrote and a bully. Disagreements can turn into interesting and lively debates and discussions.

5. Use the share buttons, even if you don’t use social media.
There are many social media share buttons that WordPress makes available. You should make all of these available under each article, so even if you don’t use social media yourself, other people will share your articles for you and that will help you gain visibility. It’s a fantastic feeling to look at your share buttons and see your counters growing. When one article of mine hit 1K shares on Facebook, I felt like I won the lottery.

6. Use Twitter and Facebook even if you hate them.
If you want your blog to grow, I recommend sharing articles on at least Twitter and Facebook, even if that’s the only reason you use these social media platforms. You can set your blog up so your articles are automatically shared to the social media platforms you choose without you having to actually go to the sites to do so.

7. Use Twitter #hashtags.
If you have a Twitter account, and you have an older article you want to promote, or one that seems to be especially popular, I recommend re-sharing it using #hashtags. The automatic share feature won’t do this for you, but if you manually share an article to Twitter, include a few #hashtags in your tweet (a box will pop up where you can do this). Hashtags are basically just one word tags that describe the content of your article. For example if you write about narcissism, and you are tweeting about a relevant article, use hashtags like #NPD, #narcissism, etc. You won’t be able to add too many so make sure they sum up the content and are popular words people search for. Doing this works because even if people aren’t following you on Twitter, if they look up a topic by using a certain #hashtag, your article will be listed and it will get a lot more views than if you do not use hashtags. It may sound #stupid, but it works for me every time.

8. Reference and link to other blogs and websites in your posts.
Not only does it appear you’ve done your research by quoting or referring to material from other blogs, every time you link to another blog or site, it creates a trackback, which appears on that blog, and from there people visiting the other blog can click on the trackback or pingback link and be taken to your blog post. It also helps foster goodwill between bloggers–most bloggers love to be credited and have their blog linked to, and they may recommend yours or link to yours in return. I can’t even tell you how many of my “referrers” are blogs I linked to months ago in a single blog post.

9. Make your content easy to find.
I’ve seen blogs you can’t navigate because there’s no option for finding what you’re looking for. That drives me crazy. No one wants to scroll through every article you ever wrote to find what they want to read (and how would they know it exists anyway if there’s no navigational tools?) At the very least, use a search bar (which you can add easily via the Widgets on the Admin page), but I recommend using a few other features too that make navigating your site easier, such as a tag cloud, a category list, a table of contents, or topics listed in the header or sidebar (mine are listed in the header and some include subtopics). If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll throw their hands up in frustration and go to other blogs instead.

10. Make good use of tags and categories. I still have a lot to learn about this. I tend to use too many tags and categories, and I hear this is a no-no. I’m getting better though. Like Twitter #hashtags, using relevant words and phrases that describe your article’s content draws viewers, because when they’re searching for a topic in a search engine such as Google, tag words will make sure your article is listed there, even if it’s on page 20 to start with. As your blog grows, you will find your Google rankings rising and some articles may start appearing on the first page if they get enough views. There is no reason why you should have to pay for SEO. All you need is patience.

11. Make your blog mobile-friendly.
Just about everyone these days has a Smartphone with Internet access and many people even use it more often than their computer for reading web content. WordPress has a feature under Admin Tools for making your blog readable on mobile phones. Doing this will also increase your traffic because it makes it possible for people to read your blog even when they’re at work, walking the dog, eating dinner at the Olive Garden, or taking a bath.

12. Don’t let bullies and trolls intimidate you or destroy your will to blog. If you blog regularly, and especially if you start to get a lot of views and hits, be prepared for this. There are going to be people who won’t like you, your blog, or your content, or are jealous of you or just want to stir up trouble because that’s what trolls do. Be forewarned: it’s not a matter of if but when. Fortunately, other than nursing your hurt feelings (if you’re sensitive), dealing with these people shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. It’s pretty easy to control your haters on WordPress. You can’t block people the way you can on social media, but you can delete (or not approve) their comments. It’s your blog; you can write about whatever you wish, and if some people have a problem with what you have to say, they are basically telling you how to run your blog or even whether you have the right to blog, and neither of those things is okay. THEY are not your boss–YOU are. You can’t be fired from your job as a blogger–you can only quit. Write about what you want and put those nasty comments where they belong–in the Trash. Lick your wounds and keep on writing.

If you are being stalked or threatened (like a certain very popular WordPress blogger was recently), you can always set your blog to private or password-protected for awhile until the dust settles, or disable comments. With any luck, you won’t ever have to do either of those things.

The dumbing down of the Internet

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Even Bart Simpson knows what’s going on.

Up until 9/11 and its aftermath, and especially since the twin-monster births of Facebook and Twitter (and their older retarded brother MySpace), the Internet was like being set loose in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s or Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ever since Facebook, Twitter and other major corporate-run websites came along and steamrolled the entire web, visiting the Internet is more like taking tours of the world’s most depressing slums with weekends spent in Disneyland.

When my worlds collide.

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Worlds Collide-Phaeton: by Meckie at Deviantart.com

I have lived in several different online worlds at different times of my life, each as remote from each other as the Milky Way is from The Great Magellanic Cloud. They may even inhabit different cyber-universes. But on Facebook, these universes have a disturbing and slightly eerie way of all melding together into a single, writhing, freaky ass clusterf*ck.

I recently became somewhat active on Facebook again, even though I really can’t stand it. This happened because I decided to start linking my blog posts there (it does help visibility), and, well, you start poking around looking at stuff and before you know it, you’re updating your status and talking to people who want to comment about your updates.

One thing that always happens that drives me insane, but is really sort of cool when you think about it, is when people from different areas of my life start conversing because they’re both my Facebook friends and they both wind up commenting about something I posted.

My friend Kevin, from a political/history forum I used to be active on (the site has become pretty much overrun by trolls but has a FB page now) got into a heated debate with another friend of mine I just met because she’s active on Sam Vaknin’s page. They got into a discussion over the religious implications of malignant narcissism and whether or not Vaknin would be saved by the Holy Spirit. It was an interesting if somewhat strange conversation. I got a kind of odd thrill from seeing two people from completely different compartments/timeframes of my online life get to know each other on my wall.

Okay, I admit it. It’s cool as hell.

I always wondered about the freakiness of my worlds colliding. When different areas of my life–or different times–somehow “meet” it’s very freaky. They don’t belong together.

This reminds me of when I was about 4. I was in the grocery store with my mother, and suddenly a woman appeared with a cart of groceries and started speaking to my mom…she was MY TEACHER and I started crying because it scared me because THE GROCERY STORE was where you bought GROCERIES and the TEACHER BELONGED IN SCHOOL so what in the name of all that is holy was my teacher doing in the GROCERY STORE?
It’s a little like that, but not scary or upsetting, because I’m not 4…..but its still weird.

That’s one of the reasons why Facebook scares me. It makes me wary and inhibited about posting ir some things or sharing certain blog posts there. There’s some topics I like to keep separate from people who inhabit one of my other universes. Why that is, I can’t explain. I don’t know myself well enough to explain why I have this strange neurosis about my worlds touching. Is this some bizarro world cyberspace version of a kid who freaks out because the gravy on their plate is touching their peas?

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Most disturbing (but really just more annoying) of all is constantly seeing updates from old coworkers I lost contact with years ago and having friends I don’t recognize because I can’t remember why I added them or where I knew them from. Also many members of my FOO post on FB too but I have quietly defriended most of them. I HATE mixing my IRL life with my online one.