|"Follow me" statue at the National Infantry Museum (Fort Benning, GA)|
You know what? I'm just going to admit right here up front that this is a frustrating post to write. I'm conflicted about the topic and not even sure where to start ... but I think I have to address it. To you faithful visitors, this time it's not about poverty or neglected children. I know how I feel about those things, even if I am uncertain how to "make it all better." In some ways, this is petty and distracting, which is perhaps exactly why I have to write about it.
I'm a firstborn. I have a natural, God-given gift of leadership ... and a sometimes not so blessed (but thankfully less prevalent as I get older) "gift" of Bossy. Once I figure out how something needs to work, I'm ready to move forward and "git 'r done!" (Sorry; couldn't resist.) I CAN follow rules, though, and I CAN let someone else lead. I'm actually a model follower when I need to be. But I cannot stand being "yoyo-ed" by situations or people who can't seem to make up their minds. They go one direction (and I get full-speed behind them) ... and then they go another direction for no apparent reason. Give me a good reason, and I'll be happy to change courses with you, but show me your haphazard side, and I'm ready to walk away.
When I naively started blogging in July 2010, I did what many of you bloggers did. I added a Google Friend Connect (GFC) "followers" gadget to the sidebar on my blog. At first it was fun to see new faces added as many of you chose to follow my blog that way. Over time, as the numbers rose, it was hard to keep up with reading everyone's profiles and feel like I "knew" who my readers were. While it's true that I've had the wonderful privilege of actually forming friendships and "connections" with several of you through emails outside of Blogland, I'm afraid I don't actually know most of you. I can't imagine what it must be like to have a "following" of thousands like some of you have!
For that reason, one of the items I put on my Sally List was:
Start praying intentionally for blog followers.
Start praying intentionally for blog followers.
(Add their locations to a world map?)
I was just getting ready to start a systematic method of looking at your profiles and praying for you when Google announced that at the end of February all of you who don't have Google accounts would disappear from my followers list. It's now the end of February. The scuttlebutt is that the whole GFC system will disappear before long. And all this after they just took away the wonderful Picnik photo-editing site that was working well for lots of us. Seriously, why?
So on Feb. 2 when Heather and Vanessa of At The Picket Fence told us all about a new followers gadget to replace GFC, it felt a bit like starting all over. If you visit here often, you know that I don't do "the usual things" to increase my blog followers. I don't tweet and I'm not on Facebook, and I haven't tried to monetize my blog by allowing advertisements. For those of you who want to do those things, that's great, but they haven't been important to me to this point. I have, however, worked hard to build an honest reputation as a blogger, and I'm forever grateful to those of you who have encouraged me by following on GFC or via email ... and so I added the new LinkyFollowers gadget.
A week later I removed it. Why? Because the whole concept of followers was distracting me. You see, while it's really not important to me how many followers I have, I'll admit that on occasion I do peek, and when every now and then the number goes DOWN, the human self-doubt kicks in, and I wonder if I offended someone. Maybe ... but the reality probably is that somebody said "enough" and started weeding out their out-of-hand blog roll. I've done that myself, and it's never anything personal.
I'll also admit that somewhere below the surface there's a creative, competitive spirit that wonders "what if..." I actively tried to grow this blog? I could rationalize and say I was doing it just so more people could learn about Hope Unlimited for Children (since it's related to why I blog in the first place) ... and that would be a fantastic thing. But it would be a side effect. When I started blogging, I did it to help me find balance and sanity because of the "instability" caused by Hope's presence. God has let opportunities evolve for me to share about the children of Hope, and I am so very grateful for that ... but I didn't start blogging so I could create a platform for some of the poverty and neglected children conversations we've had. I started blogging for me ... and to do tablescapes featuring things I was selling in my Etsy shop.
But along the way, I began to be impressed that it was time to de-clutter my life. The "things" were taking up too much of my time and focus. They were distracting me ... And so I'm actively working hard to simplify my surroundings. But in the two weeks since I removed LinkyFollowers from my blog, I've re-thought that choice ... and today I added it back. As of this moment, I have 263 GFC followers, and 14 of you have added yourselves to LF.
I'm grateful. You aren't part of the clutter. You're a good part of my focus ... because even though I may not "know" you, you're real. I've looked for and found the silver lining in the GFC frustration, and I've made a new commitment to myself. I'll make it to each of you. Since I'm "starting over" with the whole followers thing, I'm going to start working on that Sally List item. You see, LinkyFollowers gives a "featured follower" option, so no matter how many (or how few) followers there are, I can easily make a commitment to pray for whichever follower is randomly featured each time I get online. Just now, I prayed for Maryann at Domestically Speaking, and guess what? One of her posts was exactly what I needed tonight. Isn't God gracious?
So now you're going to hear me say something I'll rarely say.
If you're already following through GFC, I hope you'll add yourself to LF, too. And if you've never followed this blog before (or only follow by email), I hope you will now. Just scroll down the sidebar until you see the LinkyFollowers box. Click on "Follow Me" ... then follow the instructions on each screen.
I'll give you a few hints:
1) Don't use your full name if you don't want it visible on your profile. I used "Susan @ My Place to Yours" but you can even use first name and last initial.
2) Your "thumbnail message" is what people will see when they scroll over your picture. It can be the name of your blog if you have one, the same thing you put in #1 above, or anything else you'd like.
3) After you've set up your account, you'll have the option to pick a thumbnail picture ... something that is "you." It can be an actual picture of you, a favorite image, design, etc. You will pick it from the pictures on your computer, and you'll have a chance to crop it if you only want to use a small section of a larger picture. If you don't choose a picture, LinkyFollowers will use a generic pic, and you can add yours later if you wish.
Let me know if you have any problems. I'll do my best to help.
I've decided I'm actually kind of glad GFC is going away. I'm going to love praying for each of you when you're the Featured Follower! Even the leader in me knows there's a time for following ...
and there's the ultimate time for following.
Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
I'm linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.