Hello there! Thanks for joining me today. I am so looking forward to spring but it seems upstate New York wants to be a frozen stick in the mud, keeping its hands firmly grasped onto this cold winter weather. Sigh… After a week full of blustery winds that briefly took our power out and kept us up hours on end, it’s a frosty morning today with just the slightest hint of sun.
I’ve been on a tea concentrate kick lately. It’s just so easy to mix with some water, throw it in the microwave and voila, delicious chai latte. One of my faves is this TAZO Classic Chai Latte concentrate. It’s such a creamy treat that takes virtually no time to make.
Last month was *BUSY*! My oldest of my three children turned 14…I’m still trying to figure out how since I still feel like a teenager myself. I mean, my back being out for almost all of February says otherwise but mentally, I’m totally 17 years old still. Come on, Body, get with the program! On top of that, I’ve also started to decorate my house. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of living in it, so it’s time. i guess. LOL. To be fair, i do like to take my time, getting used to a place before i decorate it. Our old house and this new house DO NOT have the same aesthetic, vibe, general flow at all, so most of our old decor doesn’t fit anymore. The latest spot I just finished updating is my living room bookshelf.
What do you think? We had to have the bookshelf itself installed as there was just a gaping hole in the living room before. We used California Closets as they’ve done a couple other projects for us in the past and we really liked their service and product. They did a great job and now with it fully decorated, i love it! Most of the decor pieces came from Wayfair but i’m still on the hunt for a small clock to go next to the giant heart. Funny story, i didn’t pay attention to the dimensions of that huge white heart at the bottom there but was under the impression it was a book end. Imagine the surprise of not only me but my entire family when this gigantic thing showed up. LOL. Being a romance writer, i had to spin the story to tell my kids about it needing to be that big to represent the amount of love in our home. I think they bought it but either way, I was able to still fit it on the bookshelf so that’s a win regardless.
The next space I plan on working on is my bedroom. I somehow have to get my hubby on board for the painting though. He’s been chipping away at painting the entire interior of our house, one weekend at a time, and left our room for last. i think he was hoping i’d give him a free pass but nah, I’m ready haha. Right now the walls are a dark, *dingy* brown that brings the overall mood of the entire room down. If i can get this one last room out of him, I’ll share pics.
Last month i also logged off social media completely. I’ll get to why in a minute (this is me stalling, can you tell?) but it has freed up so much time. I binge watched the show Tiny Pretty Things on Netflix, jumped back into new episodes of Riverdale, and just started Zac and Mia on Netflix. Holy wow! All are their own versions of angsty, sexy, fun shows that bring the DRAMA! The actors on all the casts are so talented too. I’ve really been enjoying my time watching each of them. With a new show comes new music of course and Zac and Mia introduced me to LANY and i’m in love. Tiny Pretty Things had some fantastic songs too and Riverdale’s soundtracks never disappoint.
When i’m not binging stuff on tv, I’m writing Marc’s story. I’ll be revealing his title sometime soon as well as putting up a preorder. I’m giving myself all of March before making any big decisions or announcing anything official. This is my first time writing under a deadline (self-imposed but still a deadline nevertheless), and i don’t want to set myself up for failure my first go around with it.
Okay, now for the elephant in the room. The reason WHY i logged off social media, specifically Instagram. Let me start by saying, I like almost everything about Instagram except, well, the platform. Or the infamous, ever-mysterious algorithm, if you will. I love taking bookstagram photos, I like editing them to be as pretty as I imagined them, i like having somewhere to share them with others. I love the community, the support, the readers, the real-life people I’m able to connect with without ever leaving my home.
So, what’s the problem?
The platform. That pesky algorithm that nobody seems to understand no matter how much they claim otherwise.
As a budding author without much of a romance readership in place, i knew i’d have to work hard to get that exposure. To get my books out there to as many eyes as possible. I was ready and willing. I spent months and months and months researching the best way to do this. One obvious route was social media. Social media is where everyone is, especially during a global pandemic where we’re cut off from most of the real world and looking for some sort of human connection. WIth a couple years under my belt building my following at instagram, i decided to focus there. It’s where i’d already spent the most time, Had the best connections to amazing supportive online friends, had the most engagement out of all my other accounts.
I attended webinars, i took notes, i watched lives from these supposed insta-gurus, I planned posts out ahead of time, I prepared, i practiced, i went against my own wishes by throwing a filter over all my pics to keep my feed “cohesive” even though i said i never would. I showed my face more (Cheese!), I spent more time on captions, i spent less time on captions, I researched and researched and researched hashtags (#overit). I stopped using hashtags. I posted more (So much more), i posted consistently. I engaged, i engaged until i thought my fingers would fall off!
i did it all, every single thing I could…to only fail each and every time. My posts were seen less and less and less until barely even at all. The scary part is…I blamed MYSELF at every turn. Sure i’d think “ugh this algorithm is killing me” from time to time but with all these ‘hacks’ out there, it’s all about what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it/yourself to get the algorithm to favor you. AFter all was said and done, the algorithm really was killing me—my creativity, my productivity, my mental stability. .
The day I released Changing Lanes was a huge turning point for me. I saw the numbers. I saw the actual proof of everyone close to me sharing my stuff and yet, the numbers just weren’t there still. Why? My money’s on one of those shudder-inducing shadow bans for something i’m sure i didn’t even realize i did wrong like use a hashtag that was banned at one point. I once found out i used the hashtag readinganddrinking for a wine themed bookmark i’d made while it was banned. OOPS. maybe that was it. Maybe not. Just like everybody else, I didn’t really know but the thing is i started to believe it was all me and my fault that my reach was diminishing to almost nonexistent levels. instead of considering i was up against an impossible beast that nobody actually understands, i just kept pointing the finger back at myself.
In January the doubts started doubling until by February I had myself convinced that 3,400 of my 3,450 followers had muted me because they hate me. That was the moment i knew i was in trouble. I had to walk away to save myself from the constant self-questioning and self-doubt and ultimately self-loathing. it was the unhealthiest i’d ever gotten where social media is concerned.
Before i made the decision for what i’m now calling *THE BIG LOG OFF* i saw a tiktok comparing TikTok’s algorithm to a casino. When you first join, they give you just enough views, etc, to make you feel like it’s worthwhile being there. That you should stay. (It’s fun! This is easy!!) By pushing a random video out to several more users, they’ll even let you hit it big once in a while (huge view numbers that the rest of your feed doesn’t typically get) to make you think you’ve hit the jackpot with little effort. (So easy! So Fun!!) Essentially they get you addicted so that when the carpet is pulled out from under you, you’re not ready to walk away yet because you remember. You know that feeling of winning and succeeding. (You like it! You can do it again! Just a little longer!) They keep you on the chase for that elusive win again and again and again because now that you’ve had a taste, you’re hooked.
Sadly, as every gambler knows, sometimes during that chase, you go broke. maybe even bankrupt.
I applied this same analogy to Instagram and instantly saw similarities except in my case, instagram wasn’t even giving me small wins anymore. I was just plain addicted and because of it, i’d almost bankrupted myself in the process. My mental health was almost bankrupted completely. The only thing i was inheriting was constant disappointment aimed at the wrong person—me.
Since logging off, i finally got around to watching the docu-drama The Social Dilemma. I highly recommend watching it even if you personally don’t feel addicted to social media. It was eye opening to say the least. It also helped ease some of that gnawing guilt and embarrassing shame I’d been feeling while dealing with all this internally. Not only does it cover the widespread addiction aspect of social media, but it explores the WHY behind it. The odds are stacked against all of us, even though I can testify to it feeling incredibly personal at times.
I don’t know exactly when i’ll go back to social media or what it’ll look like when i do. ALthough after watching The Social Dilemma I’m in no rush to get back, lemme tell ya, but i’d already planned on giving myself all of March off before even considering my options, whatever they may be, so i’m sticking to that.
If any of this resonates with you, please know you’re not alone and you’re not the problem. Log off if you’re able, reach out if you want, find someone to talk to if you can. Don’t let social media bankrupt you of your mental health, it’s not worth it. i promise.
Stay safe and take care. See you here again next month.
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