Is Blogging Harmful to the Brain?

I was at an event with friends last night. One said that too much immersion in social media lowers intelligence. Judging by some of the posts that come onto my Facebook feed, I would say the damage has been done.

Here, though, is the irony for a writer. Long gone are the days when you could submit your book to an agent or publishing house and sit back and let them do all the publicity work. (It is quite possible that those days never were.) Even traditionally published authors are now expected to put on their big-girl or big-boy pants and engage with social media.

Some of this engagement is downright soul-sucking, for example decoding Amazon algorithms. What, you might ask, is an algorithm? In its simplest terms, it’s the secret formula that enables readers to find your book among the millions of books on Amazon. For me, though, the word “algorithm” conjures up memories of struggling with math, and that makes me want to curl up into a ball and read the nice book I found at the library.

I have no doubt that trying to master algorithms harms the brain, but I will conquer them. Maybe.

Other forms of social media are somewhat less frightening in the math department but still challenge me. One must always avoid saying “Buy my book” in either a shout or a whimper. One must think of entertaining things to say. This is difficult to do on demand—which brings me back to blogging.

I abandoned this blog in November, 2016, around when I first stepped into algorithmic territory. Having finally figured out how to link my blog to my site, I have returned. I don’t know how often I’ll post here, but I’m aiming for once a week. My aim is not that good.

Still, I’m excited to be writing my first Word Press blog entry, so for me that’s a win.

Priorities, Part 2

In the last post (June 27), I wrote about how a sense of priorities can get distorted by what we learn about our parents’ and other significant adults’ expectations of us in that area.

Because so much of what we learn as children resides in our subconscious minds, it takes awareness to recognize that programs are running us that we absorbed without any selective sifting. Because of that, we may not recognize that we have two basic sets of responses to accomplishment: the desire to please and the desire to displease.

The desire to please is the desire for approval and reward. (Sometimes the approval is the reward, but sometimes we’re looking for more substantial and material gratification.) Essentially, we don’t know we did well unless we get the gold star, the gold ring, or some other form of outside approval.

The desire to displease is the desire for autonomy. We don’t want our accomplishments to depend on the approval of others. We do everything we can to make sure we don’t get that approval. However, that resistance is as much a reaction to outside forces as the submission of the approval seekers.

I think that most of us have both kinds of reactions in varying degrees. Some may be approval seekers most of the time, with occasional moments of rebellion. For others, rebellion dominates.

Neither mental condition leads to making sensible and creative choices about what we want to accomplish.

This is step two of prioritizing: Ask yourself why you want to or don’t want to do whatever is on your agenda? For example, does the idea of paying your bills makes you want to gag (assuming you have the money to do so), or do you feel such anxiety that you pay all bills weeks ahead of time? The advance payment is fine, but the force that drives you to do it might be a problem. Are you either compelled or revolted by a grim parental voice telling you that responsible people pay their bills?

If you hesitate about the creative writing course you want to take, do you hear a parental voice saying that creativity will never pay the bills?

Listen for those voices. They have a lot to tell you.