A couple of weeks ago I threw myself a pity party on Facebook. I posted that I was thinking of discontinuing this blog because the number of visitors has hit a bumpy patch in recent weeks. Until then posts enjoyed one to three thousand visitors each week, not counting 500+ subscribers. Visits plummeted to several hundred one week for a post I considered among my best. The next week’s visitors increased but were still well below a thousand. Another week the numbers were down to several hundred again.
I wondered if it was caused by spring breaks or the recent reservations people have expressed about Facebook, my primary way of spreading word about a given post (which I do on organizational and group pages, not on personal pages). A pop-up box that I also get seems to require a log-in and password, but the box is easily dismissed by clicking twice on cancel. (You won’t have this problem on Chrome browser, btw.) But that glitch has been around for several months, and I assumed it was an AOL problem, or having to do with my new laptop.
Finally, it appears, the numbers may have to do with the new Facebook algorithms that only promote a post among those with whom I am more often in direct contact. I confess that, to keep up with all my Facebook friends, I would have to be on Facebook much more often than my introverted self and time limitations permit.
Not long ago, a friend and I were discussing social network addictions, and he suggested I may be addicted to “likes.” Though Facebook friends infrequently “like” the links to my blog (which makes them less visible), what I am keener on are how many people actually “see” a given post by following the link. Obviously, there is pride involved in this wish, but it’s my compensation for all the effort that goes into every post.
I didn’t think to say to my friend that I was no more “addicted” to visits than anyone would be “addicted” to adequate compensation for their work. Given my blog is not really a money-maker, not being “monetized” by ads or links, not charging for subscriptions, and, for example, receiving about $200 in donations in the first quarter of this year, my reward is rather in seeing how many visitors the blog attracts.
I almost scuttled this post because it sounds like a personal jeremiad not worthy of your time. But it occurred to me that many if not most of you have the same experience in your own work. How many of you are praised when you are, in the words of The One Minute Manager, “caught doing something right”? How often do you even know the people your volunteer or non-profit or service-oriented work helps? Do any of us take enough time to let clergy, educators, servers, care professionals, even friends and family know how much their efforts mean to us?
In the midst of populist uprisings in this country and the world, those of us who think “we know best” are being urgently told there are peoples who feel underappreciated, undervalued, and overlooked. Our own occasional feelings of being neglected should help us understand them and their anger and their desire to “even the score.” Many of us who are privileged in one way or another resist those protestors blind to their own privileges, but that is only “catching people doing something wrong.” Better to stop and listen and attend to the woundedness, just as Jesus did when he heard someone cry, “Have mercy on me!” whether a poor blind beggar or a rich young ruler.
Queer Catholic theologian James Alison has suggested that we crave being liked even more than being loved, and this many years before Facebook! We want others to like us, to want to hang with us, to look us in the eye, whether they’re bagging our groceries or offering a medical diagnosis or making love or praying for us.
Linus of Peanuts fame famously said, “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand!” “Loving” humanity is often easier than “liking” human beings.
God loves us, but Jesus likes us, calling us friends, friends worthy of dying for, friends whose feet he is glad to wash, whose hunger he is glad to satisfy, whose thirst he is glad to quench, all while looking us in the eye and asking that we “like” him too, in “the least of these.”
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Copyright © 2018 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.