When you’re a writer, numbers can become far off, alien entities that do not inform any facet of your daily practice. Despite this, I find myself thinking about numbers constantly. Social media creates a world of pressure and a numbers game where people vie for followers. As an editor, I read analytics to find out which posts are being read the most and so on.
Nonetheless, in regards to social media, there are days when I am able to engage and months when I can scrounge 50 followers out of sheer will and determination. But when I am busy working and focusing on self education, I find social media to be a dismal uninteresting place. I see people post every thought they have every 20 minutes and I think to myself:
How do all of these people find the time?
Why are you posting yourself in pajamas while your dog sleeps in an awkward position?
How in God’s name do you have 20,000 followers?
The rules of engagement seem to be embarrassing and self deprecating. I wonder if regular posters enjoy their personal lives.
I enjoy my personal life very much.
Now there are instances when numbers can save lives. When someone with diabetes checks their blood sugar, they rely on numbers to keep their insulin regulated so that they can live. Statistics can be fodder to erect new social services for the underserved and underprivileged. The rising number of T cells and white blood cells can be a miracle. Time keeps our modern lives in order.
I’ve also been thinking about how numbers can be a symbol for someone’s social and professional worth. Maybe a small part of me yearns for more worth in those realms, but the wise old Oak Tree that lives within my spiritual root system tells me that numbers can distract one from doing the true work of life, which is giving to others without expecting anything in return. The true work of life is loving others and becoming useful and helpful for the greater good of our communities.
We create what we pursue. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. When I repost and comment, share and follow, I gain followers. I put the work in and it comes back – but for some reason, that instant gratification does not keep my interest. Maybe I am the alien.
Maybe I am one with the Oak Tree.
Jordannah Elizabeth is the editor in chief of TERSE. Journal.