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Doing my part without showing it

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Most of my social media presence has been on pause in 2024 − I’ll still do the occasional LinkedIn post and make liberal use of half a dozen messaging platforms (Beeper is my saviour), but it’s a far cry from my microinfluencer days on Twitter. Before deleting my account there in 2022, I had ~1500 followers and about a hundred tweets per day on average (where did I find all that time??). I was super-active, and not super-famous, meaning that I was having a great experience without the hurdles of people generally being insufferable to more public figures (the bar seemed to be around 5k).

I then moved to Mastodon, where I technically still have an account. There, I didn’t post nearly as much, for reasons less related to social media and more related to the kind of people who are on Mastodon, unfortunately − I never felt like I could post low-effort memes, for instance. And since it coincided with my first steps on the IndieWeb, I was also avoiding well-written threads in favour of blog posts. So I ended up deciding in December that I’d take a temporary break until end of March, and I still haven’t decided whether I want to come back after that.

But that’s not today’s point, nor is the fact that I lost my emotional crutch for when I needed a quick pick-me-up or how my trip around Europe is coming up fast and I still don’t know where I’ll brag about visiting all these cities to people whose name I’ve forgotten.

The power of broadcasting

I’m a marketer by trade and have always loved building a following and writing hopefully useful things. In the past 12 years, I’ve called myself a blogger, a content marketing manager, a copywriter, a translator. Through all of these and in all the communities I was part of, online marketing was always incredibly important.

When I care about something, I normally shout it on social media and let the Community do its thing through reposts and quotes and replies and private sharing. It makes me feel like I’ve done my part, and is a classic mix of actual promotion to a relatively large audience (1500 isn’t huge, but it’s big enough that the people who should see my post saw it) and of making myself feel good without having to actually do anything.

My recent issue: Wikimédia France’s membership drive

Every year, Wikimédia France, the nonprofit that supports the Wikimedia projects (of which the most famous is Wikipedia, but it’s not the only one) in France, has a membership drive. For 4 or 12€ depending on your personal situation, you can join the nonprofit for a year, which gives you the right to vote in our yearly general assembly as well as access to a really interesting mailing list where you’ll understand how we work with (and sometimes against) public authorities and partners.

I believe in the power of letting people be members and expressing themselves, especially about projects as large as Wikimedia where « everyone » is our audience. And it’s easy. (I also happen to be on the board of trustees of that nonprofit now, so I do have a personal interest in seeing people join our ranks.)

Anyway.

When coming to the yearly membership drive (each year in February, although of course people can join all year long), I shared the calls on LinkedIn. But I couldn’t do a Twitter thread with fifty retweets and I couldn’t do a long-winded Instagram explanation with a nice photo of our last summer camp. That was gone, and I felt incredibly helpless going into my first « call to action » campaign without my usual broadcasting tools.

Of course, I talk about these things on my blog, like in this article. But the number of visits to my blog are low, the content is hard to share because it’s not a potentially viral one-liner, people who come for a particular article don’t look at the homepage or discover anything else…

Check out my very similar musings in April 2023.

How do I do my part?

I was able to « do my part » by just resharing things or rewriting them and posting them. I’ve lost that power, and that means I need to find new ways to do my part.

Now, I have to write blog posts to talk about my Wikipedia experience with gender equality, and these posts will not get nearly as much coverage as my tweets used to have, but that’s ok. It needs to be ok. I’m putting my entire blog under a CC-BY license, which means anyone is welcome to repost part or all of my posts as long as they link back to me. This is as viral as I’ll get under this long-form format.

Now, if I want to have a conversation about a topic that I care about, I need to go to meetups and to make talks that are worth listening to. I need to go to events where I’ll meet new people who might see the point in getting involved, if I’m interesting enough and lead by example. And since I’m in these groups now, they’ll expect me to do something too. It will be time to help out at a protest, or organize computer support office hours with my work union, or bring a cake to the next monthly trans meetup (which I have last attended 11 months ago, so not the best example).

Doing my part takes new forms, which are all more time and energy consuming. But I want to believe that they’re good too, that they bring some change too, and that as long as other wonderful people with strong social media followings share what I’ve done on the ground or written on my blog, then I’ve still done my part and given it visibility.

It’s hard to let go of the feeling that « doing my part » is proven by viewership and engagement stats. But sharing announcements is not my job, and maybe I should focus on my actual mission, which was always to support the causes that matter to me. Whatever the format − and with solid introspection to understand that not having many views doesn’t mean what I write is worthless.

Special shoutout to the IndieWebCamp in Brighton. While I’m sadly not attending, I’m using their livestream as my background audio and it makes me feel like I’m part of this productive bunch of people, encouraging me to write and publish this post, which had been sitting as a 3-liner draft in my Obsidian vault for a month.

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  1. I do hope that you eventually find a replacement for the ‘I have done the good work’ that comes with sharing on social media. Not that I know exactly feeling (I don’t think I ever had any substantial kind of audience on any online place), but I do know how much time and energy can take to get a similar feeling by being a part of in-person community. It is not an always easy feeling to get. 🙂 And for me needs to be helped sometimes with other positive feelings – like fun, belonging or something similar.

    I do hope the losing emotional crutch was something, that is fixable and I you find an alternative soon.