The Lost Followers

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

I lost readers—at least three—after disclosing that this place has been compromised.

My place.

To write. To opine. To emote.

Maybe they decided I’m a fraud and jumped ship.

Maybe they’re people in my ex’s and I’s personal lives that no longer felt comfortable playing voyeur now that she’s in the loop.

Maybe they were among the many new followers picked up when a post I wrote about Clean Copy was widely circulated by WordPress, and they quickly discovered my personal stories weren’t their particular cup of tea.

Maybe I offended them with all of my bad language in the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde post.

Or maybe they think I’ll stop being honest now since my ex might be reading. Maybe they think I already have. Maybe they think I never was.

On Rejection

I don’t take it well.

Never have.

While I was never the most-popular kid in school, I was also never the kid getting picked on, or the last to be picked in a playground football game.

I’ve always fared reasonably well socially.

I always had predominantly good luck getting jobs. I interview well because I’m nice and I think interviewers can tell I care and have genuine passion.

But then I was laid off. Living on The Unemployment Line for a year and a half before finally finding the job I have now.

My editors at the paper assured me it was a financial decision. I had to be the one because I had the least seniority on the editorial staff. That it had nothing to do with my value.

But, you know what?

That can’t be true.

If I had been an all-star-caliber employee? A magnificent reporter and writer? There’s no way in hell they send me packing.

I failed to make myself indispensible.

So, when the economic crunch happened and employers had to make tough choices, I was tossed on the other side of the line upon further evaluation. With the group of people they could manage without.

I’ve had plenty of girls not want to go out with me. But I never had my heart broke by one until my marriage failed.

There was so much at stake. Nine years. A child. Family ties. Mutual friends.

And in the final analysis, I was deemed the worse option. Divorce was the lesser of two evils.

I am so much more sensitive to rejection now than I used to be.

Girls that might not have even been real people not writing me back on online-dating sites felt like needles.

Friends withdrawing post-divorce has felt even worse.

Somewhere in the middle are people who once decided: Yeah, I want to read more from this guy. Only to read more and decide it was a nuisance. Bullshit. A waste of their time.

I can only think of that great scene in Gladiator where Maximus violently ruins a few dudes in the gladiator arena to the horror and astonishment of a crowd that was blood-thirsty just moments before. He screams at them: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? IS THIS NOT WHY YOU ARE HERE?”

Own It

Then.

Pause.

Get a grip, Matt.

Breathe.

You have to own your shit.

Or, in mature-speak, you must accept responsibility for your actions. In each and every situation in which you find yourself.

Life cannot be a series of unfortunate events happening to you. You’ll be a victim you’re entire life if that’s how you think about things.

Life must be a series of choices you make to control the action. To dictate the outcomes you want. With courage. And faith. And fortitude.

You know why girls on Match didn’t write me back? Because I wrote them suck-ass emails. Because I haven’t made my body something they want to touch. Because I don’t represent the type of successful and confident and bold and brave and strong person they find attractive. Maybe even because I have a son. And that beautiful little man is a choice I’ll make over and over and over again at the expense of my dating life forever.

Own your shit.

You know why I lost my job?

Because I didn’t make myself indispensible. I didn’t work harder than every other person. I didn’t write the most stories. Or the best. I wasn’t the best journalist in the newsroom. All the best ones got to keep their jobs. There’s a lesson here about how it’s in our best interest to give our jobs—if we value them—the very best we have each and every day. To take nothing for granted. Because it’s on us to be the best we can be. No one is responsible for us having jobs. Or money. Or job satisfaction. Or long-term career success. We’re responsible. Make the choice every day to be great.

Own your shit.

You know why I lost my wife?

Because I was a shitty husband. I’m not going to rehash it. We all fall short. We all mess up. We all do things to hurt others. We all sin.

But is there any doubt that I could be blissfully married with an amazing job and my happy wife and child—or possibly more children—if I’d chose every single day to be great? To love unselfishly? To be kind even when it was inconvenient?

I don’t get to be married anymore in large part because of me.

Our lives are the sum of our choices.

Don’t point fingers.

Look in the mirror.

And be strong.

And love yourself.

And forgive yourself.

And commit to giving your all today in every endeavor that truly matters to you.

Be indispensible in life and love.

Do it for the people who write your paychecks.

Do it for your partners.

Do it for your children.

But mostly, do it for yourself.

The world doesn’t owe me a thing. Nothing. But I owe the world.

I’m sad I lost those followers. Those readers. But they don’t owe me.

I owe them.

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27 thoughts on “The Lost Followers

  1. RR says:

    As I am fairly new to your blog I may not have the history other readers may but I do know that we are only responsible for our actions, the things we do. We are NOT responsible for the actions others take following the things we do; that said, we should however keep ourselves in check enough to not bring intentional hurt or harm to another but one cannot absorb emotions (in the form of guilt) that have nothing to do with them. Write on as if no one is reading…you will be the better for it.

    Like

  2. “Life cannot be a series of unfortunate events happening to you. You’ll be a victim you’re entire life if that’s how you think about things.

    Life must be a series of choices you make to control the action. To dictate the outcomes you want. With courage. And faith. And fortitude.”

    Yes. Print that in 48 point font and tape it to the ceiling over your bed so it’s the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. :)

    Like

    • Matt says:

      Thank you. I don’t always live that way. But I always think that way.

      And I’m so glad I do.

      Like

    • Caitlin May says:

      I second that. I have played the victim role for so long. I was always the dumpee, because I never had the guts to end an unhealthy relationship. Well, after a series of trials in the past few years (starting with my divorce) I decided to strengthen my backbone. I now stand up for myself, and have those “guts.” Recently, I ended a relationship because I saw it for what it was- toxic and going nowhere.

      I tell you what, that was the best decision I’ve made in the last 4 years. It was MY decision. It took COURAGE, FAITH, and FORTITUDE.

      Like

      • Matt says:

        That’s all we can do, miss. Make better choices today than we did yesterday.

        As the good choices continue to pile up, our lives improve.

        That’s what I’m trying to do. Make good choices today. And I’ll try again tomorrow.

        Thank you for reading and commenting.

        Like

  3. Own it. Brilliant. If you have lost some readers, it was not your decision but the readers. This is your story, tell it like it is, some make not like it, agree, or even believe you, however for me it an honor that you have this blog for us to read. I always get something after reading this. I have said this before, as a journalist you are very talented, don’t forget this and take the compliment for what it is. Your get writers, copy editors, story tellers, do they all have talent and passion, sadly not, so own this, you have a gift for writing. Ivan

    Like

  4. Are you sure they were actual people/readers and not bots? The nytimes recently ran an article about how sophisticated bots have become and they’re frequently used to “follow” on social networking sites, usually to get you to follow “them.” Also, some (real) people will follow for this same reason, just to get you to follow them. It’s a well known gimmick to get a lot of followers. Personally I’d only worry about your commenters :). Now THAT would be sad to lose one of us. Of course I don’t know the details of which followers you lost, so if you’re certain they were real people and readers then I’m sorry. But you can always pick up new ones!!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :)

      Yes, I can.

      I was just whining, Spider-Lady! You know I do that.

      I appreciate you saying this though.

      I am beyond grateful that a group of people exists in this world that invests time reading things I write and then cares enough to write, or even feel, something because of it.

      I’m very blessed.

      Like

  5. seattlegraphix says:

    Some of us still love ya Matt. :) Just wanted to send a hug your way. :)

    Like

  6. I joined this morning Matt. Your blog was re-posted last night by a blog I follow … and voila, I have become a follower. Perhaps they have left to make room for me? ;* Tossing some feel-good your way!

    Like

    • Matt says:

      :)

      I am fully aware that I will lose people over time. And that people who never click “unfollow” will stop reading and stop caring.

      I will offend people. I will bore people.

      It’s bound to happen.

      I noticed the loss and wanted to address it while also talking about the all-important lesson of accepting responsibility. That lesson is more for me than anyone else, but hopefully others will think about it too.

      When I whine about losing readers, I am inadvertently not showing gratitude for those I do have. And for anyone new that comes along. Like you.

      I am so grateful for your time. For whatever little attention you pay this small sliver, and deeply personal slice of the Internet.

      And please forgive me for suggesting I am not absolutely aware and appreciative of all of the many blessings in my life.

      There are too many to count. But it would be wise of me to try.

      Like

  7. Aussa Lorens says:

    Anyone who quotes the commander of the northern regions and servant of the true emperor, Marcus Arelius, is absolutely worth continuing to follow.

    Like

  8. jessiesgirl says:

    Most of my posts are read by fewer than 10 people. And many haven’t received a single comment. But I don’t care because I’m getting that stuff of my chest. I’m working through it. And when I reread posts, I can see how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go in my journey. I’m not nearly as regular in posting as you are, which probably accounts for my lack of followers. This one guy used to read and comment on nearly every post, but he’s been going through some personal crap lately, so I’ll cut him some slack. ;-)

    Like in real life, true friends (or followers) are easy to identify because they are always there for you. I, for one, am not going anywhere.

    Like

  9. David says:

    Are you taking responsibility? Good. Are you falling on your sword? Not so good. I don’t know the boundary for you, but I know that there’s a balance somewhere (not that I’ve found it). The cool part about taking responsibility, though, is that, theoretically, you get to fix it going forward. If it was all her fault, you’d have to live with the pain and not get to actively treat it.

    A confession about following blogs: I unfollow blogs sometimes, but I actually prefer to unfollow well followed blogs so I can know that I won’t offend a writer. I’m just saying …

    I’m not psychic/psycho/psychiatric, but I feel like you’ve just turned a corner. Sure, there was a surprise person coming the other way, but that’s over now. You’re in a somewhat new place. Congratulations!

    Like

  10. Follow your gut. You seem like you operate with the best of intentions. We’re all just trying to get it right and most of us will screw it up half the time. But intentions count for something, don’t they?

    Like

  11. […] addicted. What will you say? What will you do? What will your readers think? What will they […]

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