The Only Metric That Matters Is You
After the latest instalment in the “I Quit” series, where I talked about giving up blog analytics and managing social media numbers, I started to get some worried messages from friends and fellow creatives.
Was I giving up? Had I decided to go out of business? Was I going to devote my life to gardening or run off and join a monastery?
Of course the answer is no.
I also haven’t lost faith in my abilities or the quality of my work. Tempting as it might be, I’m not going to hide out in my techno-cave or run off and join the circus.
But, I am starting to lose faith in something. When the web first became popular many of us hoped for a kind of digital utopia of ideas. As blogs started to become more widespread, as the veil of online anonymity first lifted and we began to reveal more of ourselves online, it was easy to imagine the internet as vast, global, largely compassionate place for the sharing of ideas and experiences.
For a while at least, things seemed to go that way.
The internet today is a harsher place. Not just the haters, the “focus group from hell” as Billy Bragg describes them, but the sheer difficulty of cutting through. It can easily become a full time job just trying to find an audience. Twitter especially, reeks with the desperation of good, hard working creatives who are just desperate to be noticed.
Should that be our full time job though? Sure, at some point we have to ask ourselves questions about how well our work connects with people. But, our primary responsibility isn’t to try and play the online game of getting noticed, it’s to turn and do our work. The moment SEO, managing our Twitter account, or getting the perfect backdrop on our YouTube page starts to significantly eat into our time in the studio (or wherever we work), then we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about our priorities.
I say this because I’ve come to believe that the only metric that matters is you.
You, reading this post. You checking out work. You following me on social media. You reading my emails. You commenting, replying or in any way reaching out to connect.
It’s just too easy these days to compare numbers, to obsess over what’s there rather than love what we have. I may be in a minority here, but I believe an artist, a creator of any sort, should at the very minimum respect the people who turn up to appreciate their work.
It’s not outrageous to say they should love them.
So often, I see people online who are clamouring to get noticed, yet they greet the fans who rise up to say something with a snarl, or snarky comment. Maybe they think that makes them cool, an artistic pose, of sorts, but it feels off.
So, I haven’t stopped measuring. I still clock my hours each day, still make it my business to do the best I can.
But, I’m not counting on what’s not there. I’m counting on you.