Back in December, I got involved in a conversation that I probably shouldn’t have. It was a story about Christians of another stream in a country that I’m not from who live radically different lives from my own. It was, of course, the story of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson making insensitive and inflammatory comments about gay people and the Christian faith in America.
I dove in, wrote a blog post that I was passionate about and then took a step back to see if people would read it.
And read it they did. In fact, over 3,000 people read it in 4 days. It was easily the most read post I’ve ever written … In fact, it was a multiple of my most successful posts up to that point and I’ve been blogging for over three years.
Naturally, I was delighted. It gave me a massive rush of adrenaline and affirmation, a heady combination particularly for someone of my disposition. What I didn’t realise at the time was that the unintended consequence of this was that it changed the way I approached blogging. I started craving the same level of readership for everything I wrote. I stopped writing about what I was passionate about and started writing angry posts that I believed would get reactions and readers. They were still whole-hearted and I was still writing what I believed but they were beneath my calling because they only served to criticise and judge rather than to encourage or provoke change.
My last blog post was called ‘Cut This Crap’ and, within a few hours, I received a message from my friend, Sarah, which began:
‘No, Scott. YOU cut this crap.’
And she was right. I have fallen into the Buzzfeed trap: Writing posts with headlines and content that are designed to bring clicks rather than change. I cared more about 'Likes', 'Shares' and 'Retweets' than whether or not I'm writing something worth sharing. Challenged by Sarah’s words, I began to change my approach and so I wrote another post called ‘The Cheapest Gift’ about a handshake that changed my life.
743 read ‘Cut This Crap’
176 read ‘The Cheapest Gift’
Which leaves me with a dilemma; I have a choice to make.
Do I want to write critical and sensational posts that hundreds read?
Or passionate and heartfelt meditations that are barely read?
The part of me that would like to make a living from blogging wants to write the sensational stuff.
But the part of me that wants to write stuff with integrity would like to be able to look at himself in the mirror.