Last night I posted this tweet:
I had an overwhelming response from other bloggers to put my feelings out there, but many reminded me to do so in a kind way. After discussing my feelings in depth with Matt, he assured me what I have to say shouldn’t offend anyone, so long as my explain myself. So here’s my long-winded (come on, what did you expect??) attempt explaining why I’m giving up google reader and how HLS inspired me to do so.
There are so many things that I experienced and learned at HLS that I still haven’t been able to analyze all of them in my brain. While I was driving home from school yesterday I started thinking about how I haven’t logged into google reader since I came home from HLS two weeks ago. Then I started analyzing how HLS changed my opinions and habits of reading blogs and how that’s also changed my general perspective on my blog and my content.
This really all started before HLS, but HLS was the key factor in my decision to stop using google reader. Since HLS, I’ve decided to stop reading blogs written by people that don’t have a relationship with me. I’ve decided to stop reading blogs where I don’t feel like I have a voice or a contribution by commenting on the post. Unfortunately if I’m one of 100 people commenting on a post, I really don’t see how my comment does anything for my relationship with you as a blogger. How does me being one of 100 comments contribute to my life? And finally, how am I to forge a relationship with you when I’m one of thousands reading your blog each day?
That’s the part that I feel will be offensive to others, but it’s also the part that I need to bluntly admit. I don’t to skate around the true reason I’ve quit google reader. However, I will explain to you why and how I came to this conclusion.
When I started reading blogs over 2 years ago, I was lost in life. I was miserable and sat at a computer desk 9 hours a day and wanted to be anywhere but at my desk, sitting on my ass, doing work that didn’t interest or challenge me. I began reading blogs that Heather mostly introduced me to and most of those blogs were written by people with huge followings. Reading about other’s healthy lives allowed me to escape from my own misery and find inspiration, yet distraction from my job. Eventually reading blogs at work bled over to reading blogs at home every chance I could get.
My google reader has had over 100 blogs in it for a long time. Even when I started to change my life, I still read blogs constantly because I sat at a computer all day. Last August when I quit my job to return to school, my available time for reading blogs decreased significantly. I was constantly running around and no longer in front of a computer 9 hours a day. However, I still read blogs on my phone during class, or each night before bed and when I woke up the next morning. I still managed to make a significant dent in my google reader each day and keep up with my favorite popular blogger’s lives.
As my available time to read blogs kept decreasing as school went on and my life became much better and happier, I found myself only reading the popular blogs. Even after cleaning through my google reader last spring, I would focus on the popular blogs first. I started to sacrifice the time I spent reading my friend’s blogs and spent time only reading blogs of people that have huge readerships.
Since the start of 2011 this trend has continued. And since April when I started reading books every day, my blog reading time has decreased even more. I spend time before bed reading and in my spare time I read books instead of blogs. However, I would still log into google reader once a week and catch up on my favorite bloggers, but again – I neglected my friend’s blogs. I neglected reading the blogs of my twitter friends or fellow Healthy Living Bloggers. I continued to read the blogs of people that didn’t even know I existed.
Then I attended HLS. And while at HLS, I didn’t talk to a single one of these bloggers with large readerships that I’ve been reading for the past two + years. I saw them and I’ll admit, I was slightly star struck to see a few (as silly as that sounds), but I didn’t talk to them. And I’ll 100% admit, I could have gone up and said hi and told them I loved their blog – and I know every one of them would have been sweet as apple pie to me – but would we have formed a lasting relationship beyond that five minutes? No, we probably wouldn’t.
Do you know who I spent the most time with at HLS and who made the conference incredible and unforgettable for me? My friends and other bloggers who I’d never heard of, but took time to talk and become friends with me. I devoted my time to the girls that have taken time out of their lives to make real-life friendships with me and who keep up with me by reading and commenting on my blog, chatting with me in gchat, sending me snail mail, text messaging and emailing me. Those girls that I can talk to about my real-life and who are interested in how school is going, or will take time to buy a new wardrobe with me. Those girls whose blogs I haven’t been reading religiously the past two years, despite their commitment to read my blog and be in my life.
I’m not saying you have to read my blog and comment on it for me to read yours. I’m not saying that we have to talk every single day for me to read your blog. What I am saying is that I’ve spent more time reading about random people’s lives than I’ve spent investing in my friends lives and blogs and that’s wrong. It’s plain wrong and I won’t do it anymore and HLS really put that into perspective for me.
As my life has become happier and I’ve achieved my goals, I’ve found myself with much less time to read blogs. I’ve found that I actually want to live my life rather than live vicariously through others. I’ve taken that time I spent reading blogs and invested it in my hobbies, my life and MY blog. And especially after this week, with starting school, working on my blog and continuing my internship, I’ve found I have roughly 15-30 minutes a day to read other people’s blogs and I can only check in on twitter a few times a day.
Since coming back from HLS, I’ve dedicated that time first and foremost to reading my friends tweets and blogs. To checking in on my fitblog twitter buddies to see how they are doing. To actually comment on blogs and share my opinion with others because I know what I say will make a difference and mean something to them to have comments.
None of this is to say that there is something wrong with having a large readership. There isn’t at all and I realize blogging is some people’s job and having 100 comments on every post is crucial for their paycheck. However, that’s not me or for me. I know I can keep up with these blogs through twitter and if there’s an important post they wrote, I know my fellow bloggers will point this out on twitter so I can read it.
Right now with my limited time, I’d rather spend my time focused on my friends and creating meaningful relationships with other bloggers. I enjoy meeting new people in fitblog and love adding them to my twitter feed. But I’m not going to automatically add them to my google reader and pretend to read all their blogs anymore. If we become close friends through twitter, I’ll add their blog to my mental list of blogs that I read every day. But I won’t put a random blogger before my real-life friends I’ve made through blogging anymore.
Thank you HLS for helping me re-align my blog reading priorities.