Should We All Take a Summer Holiday from Social Media?

I don’t know about other bloggers out there, but my stats go way down during the summer.

I could put the dearth of audience down to people being away on holidays, or simply spending more time out of doors, but in truth, I don’t really know why it happens. However, it does make me wonder about the wisdom of continuing to put out content at this time of year, when every weekend seems fuller and busier than the last, giving me the writing mojo of a sloth who’s just found out he’s allergic to conjunctions.

Should we all take a summer holiday from social media?

I could say my blogs are easy scrawls and take 10 minutes to write; I could say I don’t care how many people read them, but I’d be lying. To tell you the truth, there are many, many things that every blogger lies about, including but not limited to:

  • Stats at peak levels
  • Stats at trough levels
  • Stats
  • Why we started blogging
  • Why we still blog
  • What we think we get from blogging
  • The difference between what we think we get from blogging now in comparison to what we thought we’d get when we started
  • Amount of time spent on farting around with our social media output every week
  • Amount of time spent farting about with other people’s social media output every week
  • Weight
  • Lip fillers
  • What happened in Vegas
  • Etcetera

As you can see, that’s a lot of lying to get through – and that’s even before you start sorting out other people’s lies. It’s enough to wreck your head.

So why do we do it? What’s the fascination with this brave new online unreality of the past 10 years, which has changed our lives not to mention our moods beyond recognition?

I was reading a couple of newspaper articles this week which dovetailed very nicely with my online soul-searching. The first one was the shorter and more punchy of the two, housed in that most unpunchy of newspaper titles, the Financial Times.

Should We All Take A Summer Holiday From Social Media?

The article “‘Love Island’ is more lucrative option than Oxbridge” talks of a new economic study, which showed that “appearing as a contestant on TV show Love Island for eight weeks is likely to net you more money over the course of your life than three years at Oxford or Cambridge university”.

Apparently, someone who appears on Love Island (a UK TV reality show) can expect to earn £1.1m from sponsorship and appearances afterwards, compared to lifetime average earnings of £815,000 directly related to doing your degree at Oxford or Cambridge. Is it any wonder that it’s the more attractive option of the two – whilst also managing to appear like a lot less work?

Ignoring the fact that it’s actually a hell of a lot harder to get onto Love Island as a contestant (85,000 applications in 2018, not to mention a perfect body requirement) than to get into Oxbridge (37,000 applications for thousands of places), in today’s world, it’s still no contest (sorry) as to which is the more attractive (oops) option for a young person.

The 2nd article was so wordy and noble, I barely got through it without deviating into either weird humming noises or extended daydreams about long coats and quite frankly exhausting romances. (The clue was that it was called “The Long Read”, but I’ve never been great at instructions). Still, it was worth it in the end, should you want to give it a go.

This Guardian article talked about the notion of free speech being under attack, and how that notion best suits those with the most polarising viewpoints. It also said:

the rise of YouTube, Facebook and podcasts involves an obvious democratisation of the power to speak and write publicly. Nobody can really be silenced if they possess a smartphone and a social media account. But at the same time, the power to be listened to remains very unevenly distributed. There may be near-infinite bandwidth and data storage, but there remains a finite quantity of attention.

Isn’t it that finite quantity of attention that makes Love Island and ‘going viral’ so desirable?

With so many voices now shouting into the void, anyone who can convince others that people are listening to them can now commodify that attention, and turn it into cold hard cash.

Should We All Take a Summer Holiday from Social Media?

Attention-seeking has officially become a legitimate job. Ask any kid now what they want to be when they grow up, and at some point at least 50% of them are going to say ‘a YouTuber’. Buying fake followers is as legitimate a business expense as a business card. Lying about your follower count or stats is the same as massaging the numbers in your accounts – and just like ‘window dressing’ your accounts, it only matters if you get caught.

Meanwhile, those of us who’ve been wary of putting personal stuff online end up scrolling through Instagram, wondering ‘why is the person I followed because of that hilarious poem about a bunch of stoner Shih Tzus now taking a selfie in their underwear?’

None of this is answering my existential crisis of the summer, as to why I’m blogging when I make no money from it and the legitimate cohort of people who read this blog are probably leading happier, more fulfilling lives offline for a few months: but I can tell you at least that I won’t be blogging next week at all, because I will be dancing in a field at a music festival. Possibly in the rain. But I do have festival wellies somewhere. Plus, welly-dancing in a field is something I think we can all agree can only be good for comedy at some later point in my life.

As for my original question – where do blog readers go in the summertime – I think the answer might be obvious.

They’re all watching Love Island, clicking on affiliate links on Instagram for the latest eyebrows, and ignoring wordy blogs and articles which whisper of winter, because they are for another day, full of clouds. And afternoon lighting. And newspaper articles about, well, news.

Excuse me now please: I have some abdominal crunches to do…

Should We All Take a Summer Holiday from Social Media?

  50 comments for “Should We All Take a Summer Holiday from Social Media?

  1. July 29, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for your blistering honesty, Tara. I’ve also been caught up in the whole business of organising a blog tour for a novel and whether these are worth it, in marketing terms, if no-one reads them. It’s a puzzle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 1:27 pm

      It’s a tough one, Lizzie, and I wonder if like so much else, it’s one of those professional Vs amateur questions. Is a blog tour organised by a traditional publisher’s publicity machine worth it? Undoubtedly. Is a blog tour organised by an indie author doing their own publicity worth it? That, as we say on this fair isle, would be an ecumenical matter…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. July 29, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Well I read it all the way through Tara, but I’ve quite forgotten to check my stats for several weeks. I’m more driven by the fact that I say I will blog 2 x weekly and I hate not to full fill a promise. (Should that really be 2 words as Grammarly told me?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      I must say think Grammarly might be on its summer holidays too, Lucinda! It’s certainly not checking its facts, whatever about its stats 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. July 29, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Stats are dismal every summer. I keep doing what I’ve always done, like some dinosaur on an annual migration. People talk about summer reading, but all the authors I know report low sales volume in the summer too. Perhaps people are buying in bulk in January, then waiting until summer to read those books at the poolside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      People certainly do seem to tune out then, don’t they? It’s reassuring to hear, but I don’t think writers or bloggers will ever stop worrying that their audiences won’t come back after a hiatus, whether it’s universal or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. July 29, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    I like your blog and read it even when it is hot. As for summer disappearances, well I don’t know why. I could write something I think is witty like “You could start your own reality TV show and put yourself on as the first contestant,” but it sounds more sarcastic than witty and not a good idea. Who’s at the music festival?

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      It’s a boutique festival, Stanley, which means in a broad sense that it’s lacking in famous names, but full of kale burgers and arseholes like me talking about culture while drunk. Still, there’s some great comedy and spoken word stuff going on, plus a few bands I genuinely like (First Aid Kit, Groove Armada and Saint Sister, to name a few).

      I might start a reality show at the festival. Get people to compete for the most socially responsible smugness or something.


  5. July 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    A week of not blogging and dancing in a rain soaked field sounds good to me. I took a break from social media last weekend when I went camping and it felt pretty good.
    As for myself, I continue to blog on, but knowing full well that I am not going to become a blogger who makes money. Life just isn’t set up that way for me. I am having fun though and hopefully I am becoming a better writer. That should make for some nice emails or….gasp…actually penned letters someday.
    I have never compared my summer and winter stats. I do know that my stats rise when I go on vacation and have pictures of exotic destinations. Sadly, I cannot do that as much as I would like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 7:46 pm

      The only ‘bloggers’ who make money now are the ones on Instagram who sell lifestyles, Anthony, and they pretty much have to be famous for something else already. My guess is that your stats rise when you put up pictures of exotic destinations, because that’s the closest most of us come to lifestyle blogging.

      Still, anyone who says that they make money from blogging through actual advertising rather than sponsorship, endorsement deals or affiliate links are lying these days. Blogging does help writers, though, to get book deals and agents and book sales, so that’s something. (Or so we THINK…!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. July 29, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    Frankly, after blogging for over eight years, I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is reading blogs anymore REGARDLESS of the time of year.

    OK, that’s clearly not true. Here I am reading yours, along with the billions of other readers who do the same. But you might be an exception. Or not. I don’t know. I never bothered noticing stats. Which is probably why my own blog waned. Or maybe it waned because I waned. Yep… could just be MY blog.

    I initially had a blog at Huff Post that got some nice traffic back in the days when Huff Post gave a shit about their writers and actually tried to help them build readership. Toward the end, before they pulled the plug on the whole program (which they did in the US this past January) they barely gave writers a look much less a feature promotion, which led to fewer and fewer readers being aware you’d even posted a pithy and acerbic piece about why women in the UK like their faces better than do their American peers (an actual piece I wrote! 🙂 ) ….which didn’t help my personal blog even one little bit.

    Then, as I started feeling that I’d actually said everything I had to say about almost everything under the sun, my blogging frequency waned. Significantly.Now I barely cough out a column a month. Yes I know: that’s ain’t no way to treat a blog, no way! But what are you gonna do?

    Write, I guess! As you do! You are the Queen of Wit & Parry, the Wordsmith of Whimsy and Wisdom; the High Priestess of Impish Intellect, and it seems to me you’ve done this well enough that you can find those ready to be educated and entertained by your words any time of year. If it’s lesser during the summer is just…. well… people are hot? I dunno…. I got nuthin.


    Liked by 2 people

    • July 29, 2018 at 7:55 pm

      Well, you’ve rumbled me, Lorraine. The ONLY reason I blog is so that lovely people like you will say lovely things. What can I say? I’m a shallow-waters fisher for compliments, a fair weather friend-hunter, a shameless metaphor mixer… 😉

      I reckon blogging now changes every 5 years or so. When I started in 2013, wordy blogs like Mark Manson’s were still able to pull in millions of views and result in lucrative book deals. Now the only thing that’s going to get a million views is a barely captioned selfie for whoever’s flavour of the month this month.

      Even the social media platforms themselves are dying faster than a Kardashian news cycle – say what, Snapchat?! Of the major websites I’ve featured on both in Ireland and abroad, only Anne R. Allen’s has ever resulted in people actually clicking on the link back to my own. So I’m like you in that respect – a lot of it has been filed under ‘what’s the point’? I do still like blogging on my own site, though, so that’s safe for the foreseeable!


      • July 29, 2018 at 9:28 pm

        I’m glad of that, Tara, as I thoroughly enjoy your take on the world. I hope you keep writing not matter what the hell happens with the more general platform. And I, too, continue, albeit less frequently. Occasionally I DO have something I need/want to say and at this point, my blog is the only place to do that. Unless it’s in comments on your blog… which I’ll keep doing as long as you keep doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. annerallen
    July 29, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Our blog stats are wayyy down this summer. More than last summer, but they always go down. Our stats are best in November-December, which is why we always like to have a super-popular blogger as our guest in December. 🙂 Look forward to your December post, Tara! (After you appear on Love Island, of course. )

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 29, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      It really does make me think of doing another post on honest blog statistics, Anne – because if people like us(who aren’t looking for sponsorship or advertising) aren’t truthful about what the numbers actually mean, who else is going to be?

      I was also just commenting to Lorraine above that of all the websites I’ve featured on with vastly greater readerships than my own, only my appearances on your blog have ever resulted in people clicking on a link to visit here afterwards. It says a lot about the quality of engagement you have with your followers – they really listen to you, and I think that’s very much the exception these days.

      I remember a sketch I did once on one particular site I was SURE was going to result in a bump in either stats or followers, and do you know how many referrals I got from there, according to WordPress? That’s right – a big fat zero. Just goes to show you never can tell nowadays – except for one thing. The day you get sick of me guesting over with you, you’ll have to drag me away, kicking and screaming… 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  8. July 30, 2018 at 1:26 am

    Right now it’s too bloody hot to think let alone write/read a blog! 🙂 … perhaps as a species we’re still genetically inclined to thing of the heights of summer, and winter, as resting times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 30, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Now there’s a thought… if only we’d give ourselves a real and proper rest, though, eh Widdershins?!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. July 30, 2018 at 5:41 am

    I’m about to post again after several months off. Where before I posted fairly regularly, now it’s pretty much hit and miss, with each post potentially my last. When something significant enough happens or happens to me that I think might have something to do with the blog, I’ve posted. But my posting’s definitely declined. This will be my 2nd post this year. In 2017 I did 17 posts and in 2016, 35 (if I counted right). And even when it has to do with my general topic, protecting the environment, and the many attacks on it, I’ve demurred posting because of my feeling that people are already overwhelmed.

    Maybe the biggest reason my postings have declined is that I feel like I’ve kinda said everything I wanted to say, in the book and in the blog. And for that last opportunity I thank WordPress. Readers or not, at least I got my main thoughts out there, and that’s cathartic. Another reason I’ve been stopping is, well, the unmistakable impression I got that I was talking mostly to myself. I think that people are sooo distracted today by a million and one things, both obligations and entertainments that it’s almost impossible to get their attention (meanwhile on the freeway traffic slows down to a crawl for miles so that everyone can rubberneck a car with a flat tire!). Free speech is all well and good, a precious treasure hard won or lost in many countries, but if you’re talking, and no one’s listening, then… why…?

    The world is changing, evolving, and I wonder if blogging will go the way of the dodo, the dirigible or disco or any number of other things that seemed so permanent in their heyday. Maybe, maybe not. What’s next? Who knows? In the meantime, we’ve got to live life and tend to our own. Nothing’s certain, though, so perhaps I’ll be back with a vengeance.

    Anyway, good luck with your blog, and your writing Tara. What I’ve always found so refreshing about you vs other lit bloggers is your abject honesty. Keep it up! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 30, 2018 at 8:31 am

      I suppose the good thing about blogging about my reactions to things is that I’m highly unlikely to stop reacting to things! It’s an infinite subject.

      But I agree – blogging is changing. It’s all micro-blogging now, and even that’s mainly image-based advertorial. Perhaps the key to being listened to is to say very little?!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. July 30, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I don’t know why stats would fall in the summer months. Some people do go on holiday, or so I hear—I don’t and anyone I know who does goes away for two weeks maxi, much more often it’s going to see family for a weekend. In any case, people who go on beach holidays must get bored rigid, so you’d think stats would go up. I take time off blogging—well, it isn’t really blogging, it’s just writing, poems and bits of prose—when I don’t have time for all the reciprocals. Stats go way up when I participate in the kind of prompts that require you visit all the other participants’ posts and say how much you loved their poem/story. Slack off on the reciprocation and just watch your stats slide. I can live without comments that don’t mean anything more than ‘I said something beautiful about your pile of shite, now go to my post/pile of shite and reciprocate.’ God, but I am getting so vituperative in my old age!

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      I wonder is it that blogs are what’s read by people who are sitting at computers/on devices when they’re supposed to be doing something else? So holidays simply take procrastination out of the equation, hence the drop in traffic?!

      The reciprocation is a tough burden sometimes, I think. Particularly on commentary. 90% of the time I read your gorgeous poems I don’t comment, for instance. But I just hope that the ‘Like’ button means you know I’ve been there!


      • July 30, 2018 at 1:58 pm

        There’s certainly a lot of procrastination in bloggery. The proof, when you have a deadline or something really important to do, you don’t read blogs or post at all.

        I don’t mind at all. A like is as good as a feast or whatever 🙂 I often wish it was possible to simply ‘like’ and move on. If I don’t think something is any good it seems so hypocritical to gush. Apart from saying something idiotic like, ‘I so love that word, fortuitous’, which reading between the lines means—out of your two-page long poem I actually only liked the word ‘fortuitous’ and you didn’t even invent it.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. July 30, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I’m still here, reading your witty pearls of wisdom (although I was away for a couple of weeks at the end of June in a tent on the Swiss/Italian border).
    Stats, though? Meh, I’ve kind of lost interest. My third year of blogging saw me increase views and visitors by more than six-fold but I realised that this had practically no real meaning. I had a bit more engagement from a few more people, but so what? It’s the quality of contact – and what you do with it – that matters. Even with the Love Island nonsense, the money they make from blogging/vlogging/influencing will come down to the level of ‘good engagement’, not simple volume of followers.
    What do I want to get out of blogging? Not really sure, I fell into this by accident. But I have learned a lot from fellow bloggers and have made some really good connections. On the other hand, like most people I have a full time job and run the social media of the local writing group so I can’t devote loads of time to blogging. It stops me from actually writing the stuff I want to write, which is a bugger.
    It does make me wonder what other people expect to get out of it all. Why, O-Great-One-Of-The-Emerald-Isle-And-Wellies, do you do it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 30, 2018 at 11:05 pm

      I think there’s a residual problem with the definition of ‘good engagement’ though, Nick, in that a lot of brands and sponsors haven’t a clue what that really equates to, and pay for follower volumes whether there’s any engagement or not. What usually happens then is that all bloggers get blamed for a lack of research or know-how on the part of the sponsor. This annoys me. A lot.

      As for why I blog… I’d love to say it’s for the love of comedy or something but naw… I’m afriad it’s the most obvious and cynical answer. I want to sell a book at some point. I have a few out there on submission. They may yet get rejected, but I can be damn sure that rejection would come all the quicker without this baby on the boil.

      Liked by 1 person

      • July 31, 2018 at 9:31 am

        Yep, agree with that. Marketing departments are full of the clueless, the hopeful and the self-important so the chances of clear, insightful analysis and rational targets making it into discussions are a little on the slim side.
        I had hoped that you had a book out there in the ether. I’d buy it! And I have no bloody idea what it’s about. I just like the entertaining wordy gubbins you write.
        I want to get a proper book out there too, but it’s a long slog. Once it’s finished I’ll probably self-publish, but we’ll see. I guess my blog may help. A bit. The main impact it has at the moment is stopping me from writing my book, so I’m not sure how well this is all panning out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • July 31, 2018 at 11:54 pm

          I feel your pain, Nick. How helpful is a blog in a week (or a month) when all we produce is blog?!

          Liked by 1 person

  12. July 30, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Summers here in the rainforest are so short that we end up squashing a year’s worth out outdoor activity into 3 months, including scraping moss off everything. I think summers are great opportunities to sign off for a while, even to take a tech-free break (even if we aren’t contestants of Love Island!) Shudders. I wish you a busy bloggy August, Tara. I’ll be taking two weeks off to hunt waterfalls. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • July 31, 2018 at 12:15 am

      OMG, Diana! I can’t believe you almost missed the sure-fire hit of next summer:
      “Moss-Scraping and Mindfulness: One Interpid Woman’s Journey Into The Forest Of The Soul”.

      IT’S GOING TO BE HUGE. Never mind the waterfall. Get writing, stat! I’ll limit my cut to 36% of the royalties.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. July 30, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    I would never lie about what happened in Vegas. I’m even planning to write a blog post about it soon.

    “Nobody can really be silenced if they possess a smartphone and a social media account.” That’s a rather hefty “if,” though. Even in the United states, not everyone has a smartphone, and with some idjits going around declaring that public libraries (which many people depend on for internet access) are “no longer needed,” there could be a lot of people who CAN be silenced simply because they don’t have much money. (I don’t have a smartphone, but that’s entirely by choice these days. There was a time when I depended on the public library for internet access, though, and back then, that wasn’t by choice.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 31, 2018 at 12:22 am

      I agree that closing public libraries is an effective way of shutting an entire section of the population out of the debate, Thomas – somewhat convenient that it’s a cohort interested in education, which makes it even more of a political act – but I think the crux of this particular debate is about audience rather than speaker. We’re in a state of complete confusion wondering not what to say, but how to say it in order to get people to listen… and yet, we’re still unable to determine whether the audience was ever truly listening at all. It’s an unholy mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. July 30, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Bearing in mind the post of mine you commented on earlier, I suspect you realise I barely blog the rest of the year, so any change in output during the summer wouldn’t be noticed…

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 31, 2018 at 12:23 am

      I tell you what, Graeme – you give me the dates, I’ll make up the stats, and we’ve got ourselves a viral post. Fact 😀


  15. Ali Isaac
    July 31, 2018 at 12:32 am

    I actually don’t have this problem. Although I’m posting far less, my stats are still climbing. The only summer dip I have is in the pool, if I’m lucky enough, but usually the bath. 😊 I literally heard this week for the first time that blogs are soooooo last year and are dying a death. The ‘new thing’ is to stop blogging and focus instead on social media, apparantly, but what can you do there except post a few lines of text and a selfie? Have people’s attention spans and reading ability declined that much? Being unsociable by nature, social media just won’t work for me, nor do I want it to. I’m happy with my little old blog. From which I earn nothing, that’s not what I started it for, I’d hate to have it choked with ads and affiliate links and product reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 1, 2018 at 12:03 am

      You wouldn’t want to say too loudly that your stats are still climbing whilst posting less, Ali – the wannabes will hear you and you’ll be plagued. Next thing you know, you’ll be camped out permanently on Instagram in your underwear, taking selfies and swearing that nothing in shot was sponsored even though three of the rooms in your house are full of freebie tanning products you’re allergic to. Soon after that you’ll be featured in the Indo, tears flooding down your designer make-upped cheeks, crying about the Haters and saying everything was easier when content meant two Celtic witches and a tree. Fact.


  16. July 31, 2018 at 4:33 am

    Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. July 31, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Your cynicism has caused me and my 100,000,000,000 followers to disengage. We are off to Seapoint for a swim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 1, 2018 at 12:06 am

      Fine, but if you don’t get a selfie in your Speedos, it’s a wasted journey, Conor. #justsayin


  18. August 2, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    I’m indoors and online because it is too hot to garden. I like statistics too, but trying to make sense of who, why or when someone follows your blog must be a pointless exercise. As I put up fewer and fewer posts, I noticed an ever increasing number of new follows (I never responded). Many have come aboard since I ceased posting. I have no idea how many follows I have (small, no doubt) but as an indication of interest in what I have to say, there can surely be no correlation. Enjoy the welly dancing. We enjoyed a wedding in a farmyard in a storm last Saturday…

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 2, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      I always assume that at least 50% of my new follows are ‘follow for follows’, Hilary. Someone out there is obviously telling new bloggers to follow loads of people in order to get followbacks. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work with me. You can always spot them a mile off, though, so I don’t worry about offending anyone!
      Right, that’s me done, off to get the wellies…

      Liked by 1 person

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