Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Statistical Addiction

by Bethany Maines

Hi, I’m Bethany, and I have a statistical addiction.  What?  This isn’t Statistics Anonymous?  Well, I might as well confess anyway – seeing as I’m already here and among friends.

Recently I took all of my stats on running since 2004 and collated them into one spreadsheet and then I turned them into multiple graphs.  Reading that sentence, might make you think that I’m some sort of competitive runner who’s constantly out doing races and vying for some sort of top women’s ranking in the state.  Let’s just be clear about this… No.  I’m a slow to middling runner who did cross-country in high school.  But I keep track of run distances, times, and routes.  If you wanted to know I could tell you where I was running on this day in 2007.  You probably don’t want to know though.

What I really am is stat obsessed.  I’m also running a Facebook ad for my latest novel, Compact With the Devil.  Who wants to guess how many times a day I check the click through rates on that puppy?  Yeah… a lot.

For those who’ve never attempted to advertise on Facebook, the process is fairly simple. Ads are the little squares that appear on the right hand side of your FB page suggesting that you like them or whatever.  You can target an ad to geographic areas, genders and age-range, and then select the types of things they’d be interested in.  Action-adventure movies and literature/reading were a couple of my topics.  Then the ad goes out and FB puts up statistics on how many people you’ve “reached” (individual viewers of the ad), how many times they’ve seen the ad, and how many people have clicked on your ad.  That’s what I’m interested in – the click through rate.  But I have to admit it’s not just because I’m hoping that a click equals a sale; it’s also because I’m stat-obsessed.

What if I kept track of my tooth brushing patterns for a year?  What fascinating statistics would appear on duration of brushing time, brushing location and toothpaste preference?  Probably the answer is absolutely none.  But I’ll tell you what I have learned from all my stats… just how in control they make me feel.  By carving up the world into little tiny numbers, I feel ever so much more in command.  I feel like I winner every time I run more miles than I did last month because I have totally triumphed over Past Bethany.  In the race against myself I am totally winning (as long as I’m not racing 2007 Bethany – she ran a lot, but 2009 Bethany I’m totally stomping.)  The feeling is a complete illusion of course, but I feel like if I gather up all the little numbers I will some day be able to ultimately control everything!!!  Whu ha ha ha!! <- evil laugh.

Now… somebody talk me down and tell me to stop hitting refresh on the FB stat page.


  1. Bethany, stop hitting refresh on your FB page! There, I said it! ;-) I'm very statistically challenged these days. I don't even look at stats on my web site any more. It is too addicting! And the numbers made me feel out of control (as in, how much can I actually affect anything? Ooooh, I feel so helpless!). But my theory is "whatever works for ya"--and I love that you're stomping Bethany 2009 in running! Okay, yeah, and I'm wondering where you were running on this day in 2007. Just because. :-)

    Hey, Happy First Regular Blog Post with Stiletto! We are so happy to have you join the Gang. Yay!


  2. Bethany, first, so happy that you've joined us! Yay!

    Second, I second Susan...stop refreshing! I stopped looking at my Amazon numbers after book 2. I couldn't figure them out, they went up, they went down, and finally, I just stopped.

    But keep track of running. I write down every time I have done one of my speed walks and try to outdo myself every week.

    Looking forward to more posts from you! Maggie

  3. 2007... I was running a route that's the same as a local race called "The Sound to Narrows." Too Many Hills is what they ought to call it. Thanks for welcoming me! :D

  4. I'm amazed that you know that! I like Too Many Hills better than The Sound to Narrows, for sure. It's very descriptive. :-)