There once was a brave little blogger with a deadline looming over her head. While she should have been toiling away, weaving her next work of online genius, she was procrastinating. The words she was supposed to be stringing together refused to be tamed, and they swarmed around her heads like flies, buzzing and mocking. Trying to write in earnest (and failing to do so) was doing little for her ego, so she decided to turn her attention to something more mundane, something she knew she could actually accomplish.
Her junk mail folder was bulging and despite the fact that junk mail doesn’t really do much except sit there, she felt compelled to empty the folder. That was something, right? Ugh. No, it was pathetic, but what the heck. She joked to herself about how adept she was at clearing out junk mail. She was the best darned junk mail clearer-outer ever. She could clear seven bits of junk mail with one click. Now that was amusing…so amusing that she decided to tweet about it, facetiously, of course.
Those who aren’t trying desperately to procrastinate have the presence of mind to know that stupid stuff like this goes viral all the time. People make all kinds of stupid assumptions about it too. One of those people was her editor, who assumed she meant she’d fired off seven posts in one click. Okay, he didn’t think she’d done it quite that quickly and efficiently, but he did take it to mean that he wasn’t giving her enough to do. So he sent her seven more posts to do…for the end of the following day.
At first, the brave little blogger was mortified. There was no way. Wasn’t gonna happen. But then she slapped herself around a little and reminded herself that this was the 21st Century, and that if you didn’t want anyone online to know that you were a fraud, then there were ways to keep up the charade. It was expected. Seven lattes later, the posts were done and sent out into the universe. Editor appeased, readers fed, happily ever after.
The big problem with going above and beyond is that it soon stops being a novelty and starts being a default setting. Seven blog posts became multiples of seven. Sure, the brave little blogger delivered every one on time, but quality quickly gave way to quantity. Instead of witty observations about life, the universe and everything, her readers were left with mindless banter about low carb diets and the latest celebrity to have a wardrobe malfunction. Sure, she still had a readership- correction, even more of a readership than before, but seven times the posts clearly did not mean she was seven times the wordsmith. She was exhausted. She was bloated and breaking out from all the lattes. She was completely uninspired.
The blogger came clean online. For a week or two, people enjoyed unliking and unfollowing her, leaving trollish comments about her being a negligent snob, but it didn’t matter. Her brain worked best when it wasn’t swatting at seven things at a time, and when she wasn’t humblebragging about things she couldn’t do. First, she’d finish her novel. Then she’d write a collection of poetry. If she wasn’t all wrung out by then, maybe a book for kids, or maybe, just maybe…a how-to manual about avoiding dangerous hashtags.