Early morning musings about where we are now…and where we are going.

 

covfefe

I’ve been so active in the Twitter resistance community, that I’ve neglected blogging.

The resistance community on Twitter has become my lifeline and I’m completely addicted. Today, I’d like to share an early morning thread I posted. Having written this in a semi-awake state (pre-covfefe!), this was written from my heart more than from my brain, which hasn’t fully kicked in yet (still waiting for the covfefe to do its magic).

1. Sometimes I want to live long enough to see my country become a shining light on the hill again, sadly I don’t see that happening for a very long time, much longer than the 25-30 or so years I probably have left (if I’m lucky). But, 90 (the same age my dad died) seems like a good time to bow out.

2. I just don’t want to leave this world with my country in such disarray and possibly a totalitarian regime. I would worry about my kids and possible future grandkids. It would make me very sad to pass on without seeing a big change for the better.

3. That’s why it’s so important to me we turn around Congress/Senate back to the Democrats. Even if Trump is still president (god forbid), he will be able to do little damage if the GOP is out. All I want is to see my country back to what it was (or better!) so I can die happy and be assured the future for my descendants is a hopeful or even bright one.

4. I’m old enough to remember when fairness and compassion mattered. I want to see a return to that. Reaganism pretty much ruined all that. We are now finally paying the piper for 40 years of craven selfishness, runaway societal narcissism, and greed. At least people are finally waking up to the damage Reaganism ultimately caused.

5. That said, I do see signs that the tide is beginning to turn. But make no mistake, we have the fight of our life in front of us. Things always get worse before they improve. I do think in the end, justice and goodness will prevail, but the road is going to get bumpy for all of us. Strap in and hang on tight! Have courage! Don’t cave, for that’s what our enemies (and they are enemies!) are counting on.

interestingtimes

6. My biggest take away from all this is that I’ve come to realize I care deeply about my country and am willing to die for it, if necessary. That’s a big improvement from the apathy and cynicism I used to feel. I see this all over and it’s very encouraging! I’m also learning more about history than I ever did in all my years of schooling. What an education this has been!

7. Finally, as dysfunctional and scary as our country has become, we are watching history unfold and we are all part of it, whether we want to be or not. We are living in interesting times. That can be either a curse or a blessing, depending on how you frame it and whether you choose to get involved or succumb.

8. I won’t lie though. I’d give anything for my news to be boring again. With Godspeed, maybe one day soon it will be again.

9. A hot cup of Covfefe and a banana nut muffin helps.

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Arguing with Trumpists is exhausting.

 

liberaltears

I should know better than to argue with Trump supporters on Twitter or anywhere else. Several other people were involved in this thread. I have called them Person A, B, etc. The Trump supporter is called “Trumpist” and I’m just “ME.”  This is the kind of twisted logic we are up against.

Thread Starter: With Trump’s base showing strong preferences for authoritarianism, and continuing to support a serial predator of children [Roy Moore], it’s time to look this problem in its face. 1/ (first post in a long thread)

Trumpist: YOU are the ENEMY… you are the bad guy. Christians like me are fighting progressives like you with all our hearts. We just want to live with our traditional values without scum like you trying to push ‘progressive” bs on kids like my nephew. 😡😡😡😡

ME: Well fine but then why are you evangelicals trying to shove your religious agenda down OUR throats. And that is precisely what’s happening. To your side religious freedom only means the freedom to enforce your beliefs on everyone else.

Trumpist: because GOD wants you to inherit the Kingdom which is Heaven but you can not do that with this Progressive agenda. LGBT is a sin, coveting one’s neighbor is a sin=jealousy of the rich,

ME: First of all, I think you are wrong. My God doesn’t operate that way (and I *am* a Christian). Second of all, we have FREE WILL and should have the ability to choose our own eternal fate, not under the duress of theocrats and authoritarians who want complete control.

ME (continuing): Also we are not JEALOUS of the rich. We see a few billionaire oligarchs taking everything away from average people and actively TRYING to make our lives difficult. They have NO empathy. Most of them aren’t even Christians. The Kochs are atheists, FFS. Greed is IMMORAL.

ME (continuing): I suggest you read the Gospels, esp. the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew to see how Jesus actually expects Christians to behave. You guys are the false prophets we were warned about. Twisting Christianity to support your own selfish, immoral, sociopathic agenda.

ME (continuing): Coveting your neighbor? How about ROY MOORE coveting underage CHILDREN? And defending the rapist of a FOUR YEAR OLD? Huh? Explain how that squares with your hate filled brand of “Christianity.” The party of family values, my ass.

Person A (replying to Trumpist): so, you essentially want the same as ISIS then?

ME (to Person A): The dominionists do. They have much in common with ISIS and the Taliban, just substitute Islam with Christianity and it’s the same damn thing.

Person B (also replying to Trumpist): What values? Pedophilia?

Person A: If you want a fucking theocracy, go live in Iran or Saudi Arabia and leave this country alone. We have SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE HERE. If you don’t like it, get out. (accompanying ISIS/GOP comparison meme posted)

Person C: You most assuredly have this backwards. Christians like you are attempting to require non-believers, and other religions to live according to your values because you are afraid that your belief system is so weak that it cannot hold if kids are exposed to other ideals. 1/ (beginning of a new thread)

Person D: Hint: allowing other views to exist is not “pushing” them on you. It’s what is required for a free and democratic society. This tweet right here basically demonstrates the authoritarian instinct the thread us talking about.

Person E: Why are you fighting progress?

Person F: So, “traditional” values like bigotry, hatred and supporting pedophiles? Good luck with that. You disgrace Christianity with every word out of your mouth and Jesus rebukes you.

ME: I just retweeted that hideous reply from TRUMPIST because it’s a PERFECT example of what’s wrong with America. The theocrats and dominionists want complete control and apparently do not believe in FREE WILL.

TRUMPIST (replying to everyone): gays are wrong, period.  Killing babies is wrong, period. There isn’t anything wrong with praying in school. WRONG! We want those rich people to invest in America since they have the means, we don’t want war, some sense of morality in govt, what rights have women lost since the election?

ME: You really don’t get it, do you? I give up. Bye.

ME: (not replying to anyone in thread, which I left): Why am I wasting my day arguing with Trump supporters and religious nutcases? It’s an exercise in futility and exhausting af. Now I have to take a nap.

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I slept for about 4 hours after that conversation and then spent the rest of the day feeling depressed and deflated, no energy at all.  It’s amazing the oxygen sucking effect these zealots have on us. Of course, it might be more emotionally draining to those of us who suffered narcissistic abuse and who find Trump (and his apologists) personally triggering.   We have to be careful to take breaks and replenish. But sometimes I wonder, how are we going to win when there are so many people (like a whole third of the country) who simply deny facts and who logic, reason, and even a simple sense of right and wrong simply doesn’t work on?

I think I’ve figured out their obstinacy. There are a great many people in the United States who WANT an authoritarian president, who WANT theocracy and WANT to be told exactly what to do. They WANT draconian laws for those groups of people they dislike. It satisfies their hatred and fear of those who aren’t like them.  They don’t even care if those same laws hurt them too (which they will).   As long as they get to see the people they hate suffer. 

I’ve heard far too many Trump supporters actually gloat about how they love to “trigger the liberals.” They don’t care how morally bankrupt a leader is, as long as he is upsetting or threatening the “Others” they don’t like (who they see as the real threat).   They joke about “liberal tears.”  There’s something sadistic and even sociopathic in this mindset, which is common in people with authoritarian personalities who are drawn to other authoritarian types.   Conversely, I don’t know any anti-Trumpists who enjoy upsetting or triggering Trump supporters.  In fact, most avoid it.   If we argue with them, we’re just trying to get through, for all the good that’s going to do.   You hope you at least planted a seed somewhere.   But sometimes it feels like scattering seeds into the Sahara Desert.

There are also many people who find thinking for themselves and making their own life choices simply too stressful and/or challenging, so they prefer an authoritarian father figure who tells them exactly what to do and thereby removes the burden of having to make too many choices or do their own thinking.  It’s also people like this who are attracted to authoritarian leaders and authoritarian religions.  It’s actually comforting to them.   These people may have problems with codependency and don’t realize it.

*****

Further reading:

My Twitter Debate With a Trump Supporter

I also just read this peripherally-related, but VERY important, article about the death of Christianity in America.   At first I thought it was just another brainless screed from the evangelical far right, but it’s actually a very well thought out essay about how the alliance between the evangelicals and the far right is actually destroying real Christianity in our country.  The evangelical excuses (bordering on idolatry) for Donald Trump and now their defense of a child molester and sexual predator like Roy Moore is the end-game, at least for Christian evangelism.  They have sold their souls for political gain and power.

The Death of Christianity in the U.S. (Baptist News Global)

I feel like I’m about to snap.

I’m not handing all the bad news well today, especially now that I have to worry about a major hurricane possibly hitting where my son lives next weekend.   All my C-PTSD and BPD symptom are triggered — dissociation, hypervigilance, obsessive monitoring of the weather/news in general, physical symptoms (fatigue, headache), snappishness, mood swings, isolation, feeling helpless, and intense anxiety are all symptoms that have returned and threaten to overwhelm me.

I recently quit therapy because I felt guilty about not wanting to talk about anything but the political situation, but dammit, it’s so triggering and I take it very personally, given my background of abuse.   So I might have to go back soon.

I’ve been busy on Twitter (I’m meeting a lot of fellow #resisters there and it’s how I get the most up to date news).  Today I just had to sound off.    It was just stream of conscienceness venting.   It feels good to get all this off my chest, even if no one was really paying attention.  (Read bottom to top).  

I chose my new Twitter user name because it makes me laugh and I need all the laughs I can get.   Gallows humor does help.

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Why I’m no longer going to troll-tweet Donald Trump.

trolltrump

Since Donald Trump won the election, one of my favorite pastimes has been trolling him on his favorite social media platform, Twitter.    It’s a lot of fun dreaming up snappy and sarcastic counter-insults to his constant stream of inappropriate, crass, self-centered, angry, and fear-mongering tweets.  It’s even more fun when strangers Like them or retweet them to their followers.   I won’t lie — I get a little boost of self-esteem from that, and even though I know Donald Trump will probably never see the insults I send him, knowing others do and agree with me makes me feel a little, well, vindicated.   It also relieves the existential stress of his presidency just a little.

But troll-tweeting Donald Trump all the time is like shouting into an echo chamber.  It’s as useless as mindlessly switching channels on the remote control.   It isn’t going to change any minds or make anyone think.  It isn’t going to inspire or enlighten anyone.  In fact, sending Trump insults on a daily basis is really displaying exactly the same sort of hateful rhetoric the far right seems to have in excess — and which I’ve been seeing more of on the left too.

America is more polarized than I’ve ever seen it, maybe even since the Civil War.  We seem divided beyond repair.   The comments sections of political articles are war-zones and getting worse by the day.  Like slowing down to gape at a car wreck, I don’t want to see all the verbal bloodletting — but I can’t help myself.   I have to look.   What I see is sickening and scary.   All that hate is soul-eroding.   I don’t want to be a part of that anymore.

Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies and turn the other cheek.  By that, he didn’t mean that we have to put up with hateful rhetoric, bullying, name-calling, and aggressive behavior.   It doesn’t mean we have to submit to forces that go against our most deeply held beliefs and morals.  Far from it!  What I think he meant is that we have to fight our enemies a different way — by trying to muster up some empathy, a quality their side seems to have very little of these days.   Narcissism with its accompanying lack of empathy and sense of entitlement is exactly what got our nation into the sorry mess it’s in now.   It’s our national disease and maybe that’s why everyone is so obsessed with narcissism lately.  Trump is merely the mirror forcing us to look at ourselves, and the reflection is ugly and painful.    His presidency is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed as a nation for 40 years.   We finally hit our bottom.  We got exactly what we deserved.

But it’s not hopeless.

I think the antidote is for those of us who are willing or able to try to counteract that by showing exactly the qualities that are held in such low esteem these days.   We need to stop fighting fire with fire — and maybe with water instead.  Try to understand, even if we do not agree.   It might take a long time, but at least it’s a beginning.

This doesn’t mean enabling those who wish to destroy us or our democracy.  God, no.  But it does mean realizing the far-right hate-mongers are angry and scared. They’re acting out the way they do because they are are so afraid of everything outside their own warped reality.   We should pity them instead of hating them.

They fear their savior will be revealed soon as the fraud, criminal and charlatan he really is.   That’s why they’re lashing out at resisters now with extra vehemence and rage, even threatening to start Civil War II on his behalf (if you doubt me on this, type #civilwar on Twitter.  There may be civil war.  Some of them are talking about forming militias.   I don’t know how serious these threats are.  But I do know that with the external threats we’re facing right now with North Korea and China, the last thing we need is a civil war.  We can’t stay strong against outside enemies if we’re weak from within, and right now, we are ready to shatter like a cheap wine glass.

Trump is encouraging his far right supporters to act the way they do because he is terrified of being indicted.   He is acting very guilty — and he very likely is guilty.  His aggressive behavior at his rallies and hate-mongering  is intended to distract from Russia and his other probable illegal activities and scare us into submission.

We can’t submit to Trump or his supporters because that’s what they want from us.   They want us to fear them as much as they fear the truth.   If we back down, they will win.  That cannot happen!   But at the same time, we also shouldn’t fight them back using their weapon of hatred either.   We should lead by example and show them there’s a better way — a way out of the darkness that will bring us back together as a nation again.

Remember those WWJD bracelets that were so popular back in the ’90s?   Those days seem very far away now.   I wish more Christians tried to act like Jesus, but so many now preach values that are the polar opposite of what he taught.

So I like to pretend I’m back in the 1990s and ask myself, “what would Jesus do?”

I’m sure he wouldn’t troll-tweet Donald Trump.

When I started this blog, I wrote mostly about narcissistic abuse. I was enraged at the narcissists who had tried — but failed — to kill my soul.   In the early days, I wrote blog posts filled with rage and hatred toward narcissists, but eventually I moved away from that.  I went through a phase where I tried to understand their way of thinking instead (which enraged some other narc-abuse bloggers) but that was the only way I could begin to see my own narcissism and how it was holding me back.    I’ve been working on that and trying to become a better person.   I feel like it’s working, and now I’m ready for bigger things.

In a way I feel like I’m going through that process again.   I’m past hating on Trump and his supporters.   It’s time to move on.   There’s too much hate in the world.  Why add to it?

So, I decided I’m not going to troll-tweet Trump anymore even though it’s fun, sometimes ego-boosting,  and relieves stress.   I will keep on sharing relevant articles, studies, memes, and blog posts that state what I believe is the truth.  But even more importantly, I’m going to pray that some people on the other side may be cured of their truth-blindness.   In fact, I’m already doing that.  That’s the best way we can love our enemies.

My Twitter debate with a Trump supporter.

debate

I had an interesting evening on Twitter last night.  I’d tweeted to Bernie Sanders about something he had said about single payer healthcare, and soon got into it with a Trump supporter, who seemed belligerent at first.  It started off with this comment:

Medicaid is evil. It takes money from some who rightfully earned it to give to someone who didn’t. #freemarket#FullRepeal#capitalism

I refuted this tweet hotly, and before long, me and this guy were engaged in a heated debate that went on for over two hours and ran into hundreds of tweets.

I rarely enjoy debate, and I’m not the type to try to convince people to change their views.   I’ve never liked confrontation.  Perhaps that’s due to my lack of self-confidence.  I’d rather try to change minds by writing a blog post, even though it’s more likely all my anti-Trump posts fall into an echo chamber of other people who agree with me.   Many people who disagree with my political beliefs on my blogs tend to be too aggressive, so I usually either delete their comments if they resort to personal attacks or general abusiveness, or just let them stand without replying if I do approve them.  The safe echo chamber of yea-sayers is a lot more comfortable for me than a pitchfork-carrying army of scary nay-sayers.

Verbal political discourse and debate just aren’t my thing and I feel like it’s not what I’m strong at, even when I’m sure I have my facts straight and am certain my view is the correct one.  I’m the sort of person who likes to “live and let live.”  If you support Trump and his policies, I’m far more likely to accept that and ignore you than to argue with you.

But last night was different.  I stepped out of character and engaged in a heated debate with this Trump supporter for two hours.  Not only that, but I also had fun doing it.   Although the conversation was heated, neither of us resorted to name-calling or personal attacks.    I felt like my brain was working at its highest capacity and I was able to come back at him with snappy and factual refutations to all of his (what I thought of as) lame excuses for his wrongheaded beliefs.

Engaging with this Trump supporter was fun, but still exhausting.    His tweets came faster than I could keep up with and finally my brain began to slow down.   He wasn’t going to change his mind; he just wanted a debate, which is something I find unusual in Trump supporters.   He wasn’t a complete idiot, but for moral reasons I disagree with his no-government libertarian viewpoints, even if his rationale made a type of sense, and I told him this.  He seemed to respect my right to feel morally offended by his beliefs but he stuck by his guns.

What I did find interesting was that after awhile, there were long silences from him before he’d tweet his next refutation to something I’d said.  I took those silences to mean he was thinking about what I’d said, especially since his arguments became weaker over time (or at least it seemed that way).   I don’t know whether I planted a seed in his mind or not, but I decided at that point I’d had enough and told him I had to run.  I also thanked him for his time, saying I appreciated the fact he engaged in real debate without resorting to insults or aggressive rhetoric.   He responded in kind and said he looked forward to a future debate.

When I checked my Twitter account this morning, there were several more tweets from him, replying to other things I had said.  Seems like he wants more, but I’m not sure I’m ready right now.

This was a lesson to me that not all Trump supporters are idiots who can’t engage in intelligent debate or don’t want to have their minds challenged.    It’s never a good idea to resort to stereotype, because there are always exceptions.

The last thing he said to me last night was to suggest a conservative book he had read that he thinks will change my mind (I doubt I’ll read it).   Hey, at least he reads.  I told him I hoped he’d think about some of the things I’d said.   Who knows, maybe he will.

I feel like this experience was a boost to my self esteem.

Email and me.

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This isn’t really my philosophy, but I just liked the cartoon.

I have a terrible problem.   I am absolutely awful when it come to responding to emails.  I procrastinate forever.  So far this week, THREE people thought I was ignoring them or wasn’t interested in what they had to say, because they had sent several emails and I hadn’t responded.  (I finally did today and feel a lot better).

It’s true that I do get a lot of email, and can’t answer every one of them in a timely fashion.  It’s also true I get a lot of spam email and opening my in box and picking out the spam from the legit stuff can be a chore.   Maybe that’s part of the reason why I procrastinate.

Also, I was locked out of my email for three days last week and finally had to set a new password to get in.  Remembering passwords is something I will always be bad at, and for that reason I learned the hard way to never erase my entire history because that means I have to log into everything again and I always forget my passwords.  Even though I try to use the same password for every account I have (not recommended!), somehow there is still at least one account I can’t for the life of me remember the password for.  In fact, that’s how I got locked out of my email.  I erased my history and forgot my password!  😳

But I digress.  I suck at answering emails.  It’s not because I don’t like you, or have any beef with you, or because I’m not interested in what you have to say.   I’m just really bad with this particular method of communicating (phones are another — I can’t stand them) and I really have no idea why.  It’s not that much work to answer an email — it just seems so clunky and inefficient somehow.

Now, if you follow me on Twitter, I’ll probably talk to you so much you will get sick of me! I’m a Twitterholic.  I’ve had people actually unfollow me on Twitter because I talk too much there!  I know not everyone loves social media (and frankly, I hate most of it, especially Facebook), but I loooooovvve Twitter, so if you follow me there, I won’t be ignoring you.  If you want to talk privately, you can DM me.

Or just comment here — I try to reply to all my comments, or at least Like them so you know I read them, even if I have nothing new to add.   I also share all my posts to Twitter (they get auto-posted), so if you follow me there, you will never miss a new post.  My Twitter feed is in the sidebar, and you can just follow me from there too, if you already have an account.

Why I love Twitter.

ilovetwitter

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.

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.

necromancer_concept_by_denjinprime
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.

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.

Update on my “Courtney Love, murderous psychopath” manifesto.

I wrote “Courtney Love, Murderous Psychopath” the other night on a whim after a conversation, and really didn’t think it would gain much notice or be that interesting to people anymore. But apparently I was wrong. Not only am I being followed by every Kurt Cobain conspiracy theorist on Twitter (I had no clue there were so many), I’m also being followed by the Seattle Police Department, who apparently saw my article too! I doubt anything will come of that, but I think it’s kind of hilarious.