Collectors and Hunters

I love the Internet. I do. But sometimes I dream back to the days when being a writer was finding a newspaper who’d hire you or when you could write an honest manuscript on paper and mail it as it was to a publisher.

Today, all you seemingly need to do is being visible online and create a lot of buzz. You can try to be old-fashioned, but good sales usually stems from two things: visibility and accessibility.

Every how-to-become-a-6K-blogger-in-only-a-months-WITHOUT-affiliate-sales-post I’ve come across underlines the importance of Search Engine Optimization, SEO. It basically means you’ve got to try to become a marketing genius in five minutes. If you want your blog to be seen, which you do, you’ve got to try to understand what keywords  and -phrases to use in your texts so you’ll be what users will find when they search the web.

For instance, if you’re writing about coin collecting, it’s smart if you use words and phrases related to coin collecting. If you give the internet more chances to find you, it will.

SEO also means that if you want your texts to be read, you’ve got to buckle under to online peer pressure lest you’ll be left out in the proverbial rain like an orphan in a Dickens novel.

Traditionally, the genders have been divided into Collectors and Hunters. Men, due to their higher testosterone levels and the general idea that boys will be boys, have for hundreds of years dominated the wilderness with hunts. They even domesticated predators to help them.

Meanwhile, women spent their times collecting herbs and pieces of their surroundings that they felt would make their homes better in some way.

I don’t think of myself as a very conservative person, but you rarely see groups of men getting excited about going to Ikea. I’m just saying.

With the reforms on our thinking and labeling of genders and stereotypes, and the fact that you rarely have to physically hunt down your own dinner these days, maybe we’re omitting the traditional Hunters altogether. Collectors seem to have gained the upper hand.

If you’re trying to form a presence online, you’re collecting information on trending topics, hashtags and other key phrases to build a larger platform for the followers and the traffic you’re collecting. And even if you’re not particularly trying, you’ll leave traces everywhere you go.

Online, you can join and depart from religions, political parties, organizations and social media platforms. You can do all your shopping , keep up with friends and family and the entire world.

Growing up is basically just collecting experiences to supposedly know better in the future. Cookies and web pages collect information on you to personalize advertisements and your user experience. We’re collecting money from work, to be able to collect items to our homes – items we’ve often drawn inspiration from on Pinterest, where we also collect pins!

Collecting is so automatic to us it’s natural that we carry around a smaller collection of our dearest possessions wherever we go. (That’s why we need many purses, depending on how we nostalgic we feel that day, and how well it goes with the outfit of the day, of course.)

Are we all slowly becoming Collectors?

The internet is a fabulous tool for marketing because it can increase your visibility in ways that were impossible before the digital age. You want what you can see. And I see these glamorous posts and pictures on social media of people allegedly following their dreams. For my generation, that seems to be travelling to Instagram-worthy destinations, collecting beautiful pictures, without seemingly ever lifting a finger for work.

Meanwhile, I almost break my back every week in my full-time job, while trying to keep up with a blog and an online world the size of the Earth and I just can’t seem to make sense of it.

At least not in that glittering, filtered way I see on social media (and envy, but I don’t admit that).

Society – both on- and offline – is just a global offertory where you get back what you give. This is a not a pep talk in the style of mindfulness. I am too bitter to be that zen. I mean it in the sense that if you work hard enough, and really want to succeed at something, the universe will eventually bend to your will. That’s what it means to “make your dreams come true”.

It actually means that you have work your ass off to be able to achieve anything. (Even if that means buckling under to making your writing more SEO-friendly.)

Though you can appreciate the Newtonian principles behind how the world seems to work, we sometimes seem to forget that despite all our best efforts, sometimes you just have plain bad luck. Sometimes, even though you do everything right, you will fail. That’s a tough one to swallow.

But, if you have collected enough visibility and buzz – momentum, so to speak, then you’ll bounce back.

Aha! So that’s how it works. Just fake it ’til you make it. You just have to stay collected.

In one of my efforts to collect more visibility, accessibility and credibility, I’ve joined a Facebook group dedicated to writing, books and everything that entails. One topic de jour was a budding debate on whether it’s normal to collect books without reading them. I shared the tidbit how the Japanese have a word for this – tsundoku – the collecting of books without ever true intent of ever reading them.

Now, I’m not much of an aesthetic junkie, but I do think books are an excellent piece of interior design. I also firmly believe you should practice what you preach, and so I’ve surrounded myself with a few hundred written works of different genres, lengths, styles and languages: something for every occasion.

But as I came to think about how our lives revolve around collecting everything and anything, I looked at my library and had this creeping feeling that behind all those pages, I had felt the need to collect something else as well. All those books were just dreams once, until someone collected their thoughts and was brave enough to put them to paper. And despite everything I see on Pinterest and Instagram, that’s what I want to do.

That’s why I keep on collecting reminders of the end game of what I’m trying to achieve. I don’t know what the Japanese call that.

The thing is, though, that you can get stuck in collecting-mode, and forget that sometimes you need to strap on your walking boots and go out for a good, old-fashioned hunt. Because no matter how you try to make your own luck, the universe sometimes needs a bit of a push. You can collect victories over the universe, too.

Maybe we are becoming Collectors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Ironically enough, if you just stay collected, the online world and all its pitfalls won’t gain the upper hand on you. So yes, maybe it’s fine that we collect and become collected, as long as we don’t forget that part of us is still is a cool, steadfast Hunter, always ready to saddle up and make nature our bitch.

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