For people with blogs there is always a temptation to pay attention to how many people are reading your blog. It can be a great feeling to know that things you say resonate with people, or that something you talk about has the ability to touch a person’s life. It is very ego-gratifying to feel like you can reach across cyberspace into someone’s mind and have an impact on their deepest emotions. And if you are sometimes arrogant enough (as I am) to believe that you can offer a unique perspective, your ego will be stoked even more when you know that a certain post got x-number of views.
But that is kind of a dangerous game to play, because it makes you a bit of an intellectual whore. It puts you in a position where you are ripe to sell your ideas to the number-iest bidder, and write or not write posts depending on how you think they will be received. I will confess that as out-there as I can be when there is something that I want to say, there are topics that I avoid altogether because I know they will drive people away from the blog for no good reason. That makes me not want to look myself in the mirror, but when I see that I can lose (I am not making this up) literally hundreds of readers in a single day over taking a position on something that could be on the blog or not with no consequence either way, it’s kind of hard for me to justify putting things on the blog that I know will make me a blog-o-pariah.
If I talk about being sick and people drop my blog because they signed up to read about the garden and this isn’t really a garden blog any more, then it makes me sad, but I kind of have to just let them go. I am what I am and I’m not what I’m not. You won’t really find any more juicy gossip about my battle with the city of Oak Park on these pages because, for starters, I live in Seattle now. But if I write something about being a religious conservative and people drop the blog I feel kind of cheated. Sure, they can do what they want, but I feel like I want to email each of them, like, “Really? Has my writing gotten worse now that you know this? Did you like what I had to say about everything, but now that you know that I’m pro-life you suddenly find me intolerable? What changed about my blog in this moment that made you unsubscribe, except that now I am politically incorrect?” I don’t know why it bothers me so much more, except that I know that it does.
The funny thing about blogging, though, is how unpredictable readers can be. There are posts I have written where I have such a high afterward. I was full of adrenaline as I was writing, and I was sure people would love what I wrote as much as I did- and then I will get like 2 comments and people will be mostly neutral. And I can write something I think is so-so and people will go nuts. I have checked the comments sections of the blog to find so many comments I assumed the spam filter wasn’t working right, and have gotten enough emails privately about some posts to let me know what I wrote made a big difference- and often that happens on posts I never would have imagined.
For the first year or so of the blog, I had a policy not to check the stats. I had no idea how many subscribers I had, and I only knew how many people liked the facebook page because at one point *h commented that the number exceeded the number of residents of the city of Oak Park (it has since fallen by many thousand). Even after the fist year, I would only check sporadically, but now I check more than I should, and I will tell you that it only makes my writing worse, not better.
So why do I do it? Because I’m human. I think we are all looking for that ego-hit or that rush of excitement and I have been spoiled by getting it from the blog. I think I should wean myself away from it- or maybe each of you should recruit 10 friends to subscribe to the blog to make me feel better ;)
Anyhow, I’m off to make supper, and maybe my kids will tell me what a great job I’m doing. More likely they won’t, and Epic will have had an accident, and when I check the blog later another x-number of people will have dropped off because if this lame post. And maybe that’s okay. Part of life is learning to live in between the doses of ego-gratification, and finding the joy in the mundane.
I don’t ever want to be in a place where I settle for mediocrity from myself, but I would like to be in a place where I feel fine about posting, regardless of how many people read it.
Guess I still have some evolving left to do…