What blogging has taught me about being popular

This is me at 13 years of age. Slick hair. Favorite shirt. Flexing non-existent muscles. Mouth full of braces.  Huge nose.  String bean body.  The only thing I remember from that moment was I thought I looked great. Seriously?? That’s the difficult thing about pride… it’s the only disease that makes everyone sick but the one who has it.
“Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

With the publication of this particular blog post, it appears I will have reached five mini-milestones and one “A-HA” moment.  First, the milestones:

  1. For starters, it will mark the 3 month anniversary of my blog.  Though I have been writing for years, this is my first attempt at writing within the blogging walls.  It’s been an interesting experience so far.
  2. This is my 50th post.  Originally I had planned on writing one blog entry per day.  That goal, it turns out, was a bit ambitious and unrealistic, given my life circumstances.  Now it seems that I average about three a week.  Since I prefer quality over quantity, I’m fine with my current pace.
  3. With this post, my blog will have been visited over 26,000 times.   When I started, I wasn’t even sure I would read what I wrote.  The number is humbling.  I originally thought it was due to my Mom clicking on my blog 26,000 times.   Moms are supportive like that.  But seeing that her Facebook page hasn’t been accessed for over two years, there must be another explanation.  One of my best friends told me today that he has never read my blog.  If my friends aren’t reading it, I must have a lot of enemies.
  4. As of today, this blog has been read in over 100 countries, some I have never heard of!  From Canada to Japan and everywhere in-between. It’s even been read in Pakistan, Iraq, & Madagascar.  I thought Madagascar was a movie??
  5. My blog’s mission is to produce thought-provoking material.  Provoked thoughts provoke comments.  With the publishing of this 50th entry, it will have generated over 400 comments.  Most every writer loves feedback.  It allows us to see how (or if) we are connecting with our invisible audience.  I have enjoyed reading each remark, even the few that have had an issue with what I have written.  Since I respect the time that it takes to read my blog and comment, I have made it a point to personally respond (eventually) to each reply.  As much as I have enjoyed this exercise (and will continue as long as I can), it has led me to an “A-HA” moment.

The “A-HA” moment is simply this: I care what you think.

That may not seem very “A-HA-ish” to you, but it was surprising for me.  Here is why:

I spent my entire elementary, middle and high school career wanting to be liked.  Who doesn’t?  Everyone wants friends.  Unfortunately, I learned the cost to being popular was a higher price than I ever wanted to pay.  Often times, I saw the “cool” kids were mean to others.  I guess by putting others down, it made them feel better about themselves.  Or they were snobby.  Only those just like them were allowed in their inner circles.  They often stayed in their cliques.  As we advanced in school, some began cursing to keep their “cool” status.  Or they were doing drugs.  Or getting drunk.  Or having sex.  Or ______________ (fill in the blank).  Please note, I’m not implying that every “in-crowd” member had to compromise like this.  As a general rule of thumb, though, it seemed to me that the popular kids weren’t always the altar boys.

The problem, for me, was that as much as I wanted to be popular – I didn’t want to compromise who I was raised to be.  I was taught to be nice to everyone.  I was told to speak appropriately.  Watching my Dad die from smoking at age five, I knew I didn’t want to touch the “death sticks.”  Losing three friends in high school to drunk driving, I was afraid to drink the addictive liquid.  Drugs never made sense to me.  Besides, Nancy Reagan told me to “just say NO.” so I did.  Being the acne-ridden, skinny kid with a big nose and bad hair, sex wasn’t an option for me.  Besides, you saw the picture.  “Babe magnet” was not one of my nicknames.  As a result, I grew up with the realization that I would not be super popular and I was determined not to care.   Little did I know how helpful that indifference was for me.  It allowed me to maintain some convictions through the years.  It kept me from making some stupid decisions during some critical years.  It gave me the freedom to have friendships up and down the social ladder.  It taught me to do the right thing (most times), even if it was unpopular.  And most importantly, it showed me the importance treating all people kindly, not just the ones that could do something for me or improve my “status.”

What I have found fascinating is how Facebook is the great social equalizer.  When I signed on five years ago, I started getting friend requests from my middle and high school classmates.  People I never spoke to in high school (literally) now wanted to be my “friend.”  People that were mean to me (20 years ago) now wanted to add me to their friend number.  Had they finally come to their senses and added maturity to their resume?  Or were they merely trying to be popular in this new social medium?  On one level, it was amusing.  On another level, it was like getting inducted into the “in-crowd”, twenty years late.  As I look at my high school friends on Facebook, social standing is now irrelevant.  There is no cool table in the online lunch room.   We send messages and comment on status updates like we are family.  Too bad maturity often eludes youth.  We all lost a lot of time being petty about our friendships.

As Facebook has forced me to address friendships I had long forgotten about, so blog writing has forced me to question what price I’m willing to pay to be “liked” – even now as an adult.   I am realizing that it’s a slippery slope.   For example, if I write a blog about how I like President Obama, the Republicans will be all over me.  If I say there is a God, the atheists will come out of the woodwork with condescending mockery.  If I admit I’m a Dallas Cowboy fan, I’ll have death threats from my home-town Philadelphia Eagle friends.  If I say anything negative about Muhammad, I’ll have a fatwa on my head before noon.  See my point?  There is just no way to truly be popular with all people all the time.  Everything I could say is disagreeable to someone.  And that is where the “A-HA” moment comes in.

Though I do care what you think, my pen has to be consistent with my conscience.  From the well of my convictions, I have to fetch the water that I believe to be true.  With each published post, I have tried to align my thoughts with God’s thoughts (as revealed in the Bible).  Instead of trying to make 26,000 people in 100 different countries “like” my blog, I am finding I prefer a heavenly Audience of One.  Frankly, it’s a lot easier.

The truth is, people change.  God does not (Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6).  The people who like President Obama today, will hate him tomorrow.  Just ask President Bush.  Those who were Bronco fans last season will like the Jets this season.  Just ask Tim Tebow.  And as soon as I try to become popular with one group this month, tides will turn and my blog will be ignored by the same group next month.

Billy Joel echoed this truth in his song, “The Entertainer”:

“I am the entertainer, And I know just where I stand:
Another serenader, And another long-haired band.
Today I am your champion. I may have won your hearts.
But I know the game, You will forget my name,
And I won’t be here In another year,
If I don’t stay on the charts.”

The reality is that we are a temperamental, wishy-washy, fickle people.  And God knows it – firsthand.

After all, one week the Jews were shouting “Hosanna in the Highest!” and laying palm branches before Christ as He rode on a donkey into Jerusalem.  The people loved Him when they thought He was there to save them from the Romans.  He wasn’t.  Disappointed, their sentiment changed.  One week later, those same Jews were shouting “Crucify Him!”  He had come to save them, not from Roman rule, but from their sinful selves.   Jesus wasn’t trying to become Homecoming King.  He came to be King of all kings.
He was never trying to please man.  His only aim was to please God.

How about you?  Who are you trying to please?  Your Boss?  Spouse?  Kids?  Parents?  Be careful.  People are fickle.  In a lot of ways, they are like children.  One week they want “this.”  Next week they want “that.”  In your attempt to please everyone you will discover that you can please no one.

Those you aim to please this week may place you on an ass.  Next week they might consider you one.  🙂

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” – Colossians 3:23

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” – Colossians 1:9-10

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About Rod Arters

As a former youth worker, business owner, school teacher, coach and inmate, Rod has the unique ability to relate to almost anyone in whatever situation they are in. His thought-provoking blog about life, mistakes, faith, hope & grace has been read in over 175 countries. A popular writer & speaker, Rod draws from his deep well of biblical knowledge and personal pain to encourage others along the broken journey to wholeness. He hosts an invitation-only private Facebook group for men (called the Man Cave) and enjoys helping others find Hope in the midst of their painful situations. He currently resides in Columbia, SC.
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8 Responses to What blogging has taught me about being popular

  1. Tanya Dennis says:

    Good thoughts. I’ve blogged (in different spots) for about six years. In that time, I’ve evolved and my blog has with me … and my audience does, too. It’s difficult, as a writer, to be consistently true when our success (and income) is judged by those who do and do not read us. Fortunately, our worth far exceeds any success that may (or may not) be seen.

  2. Sandra Coggins says:

    Another humbling experience, the pride before the fall. How great is our God to sharpen us, shape us and reveal our sins. So many times I have caught myself ashamed, humiliated..these says I’ve questioned whether it is from conviction or worldly acceptance. Truly blessed is the man who endured discipline even as we wish for relief. As we are humbled and pride is revealed constantly, we are capable of having compassionate, mercy, and grace. A forgiving heart and love for one another. In this too, there is pride and one that HE keeps in check. The wonderful gift is that on this side of the cross- we feel conviction. Thus the war inside our hearts…when we come to an understanding that walking with HIM always takes HIS stregnth GOD somehow gives us this AH HA moment.
    Those are the ones I think HE uses a frying pan or baseball bat to hit me over the head with. ” Really, my child, how many times can I lead you…urge you…show you.” So, as I knock you on your hiney or flat on your face…I make you this promise: if you reach up…choose me…I’ll take your hand. Pride is a problem especially if we can not admit that it is a sin we struggle with daily.
    How amazing a gift to keep me humble for then I realize how GOD is my only choice and we are all in the same boat. For sin is sin and JESUS shed HIS blood to cover us all. GOD is the ONLY way .
    Thank you friend…your blog reaches others and your constant struggles keep you reaching for HIM!

  3. Well said – thank you

  4. Elizabeth Martin says:

    I second that…yes, very well said-both Rod’s blog and the above comment. I came from a large high school where you were “supposed” to fit in with the “in” crowd. I never fit in with any of the cliques- I wanted to be friends with everyone. I, too, now get Facebook requests from high school classmates that I don’t even remember or that never spoke to me in school. It is amusing to me as well, sometimes even baffeling! And I learned the hard way so many times that you CANNOT please anyone. You have to be happy within yourself and “do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” I strive to be more like God and to live according to His word each day. I remember daily that God does not give me anything bigger than what I can handle. Trust in Him.

  5. Steve H says:

    I really enjoy the thought-provokingness (not sure that’s a word), humor, and Bibilical truths incorporated in your postings… really the only blog I read. From Indiana, Steve

    • Rod Arters says:

      Steve, good job on coining a new word. I like it. I’m glad I’m writing something that you consider worthy of your time. Please forward my link as you see fit. 🙂

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