Many have been questioning the boundaries of their writing because people they know are now reading their blog and it has stymied how and what they write. "Will I offend someone?... Did I write something that bothered my audience, thus losing a follower?..."
I've had the same mind set of late myself.
When I started blogging, I wasn't clever enough to think up a pseudonym. Honestly, I thought it unnecessary. Other than a couple of friends, I figured no one would care to read my musings. What I write about is real, and if you know me, you probably know who the players are. But for the most part I've tried to not call out people by name. Unless warranted.
I wrote a post a few weeks ago which was followed by a mass exodus of followers. Now, this could have happened from clearing their cue, ridding the blogs that no longer carry significance for them. I've done that myself. But, for some reason I thought that they, the reader, might have been offended by my post. And it bothered me. A little.
It made me edit my subsequent posts more than I had in the past. Trying to anticipate public opinion. I thought, "Is this going to piss anyone off? Rile someones feathers too much?" If then answer was even a wavering 'Yes', I omitted it. Or rewrote to perhaps smooth over the possible offensive content a bit. And yet, I still lost yet another follower.
Then I gained one, lost two, gained three, lost two, gained two, lost one. You get the picture.
What this all boils down to is that damn sign you see posted with thumb tacks on cubicle clerks walls..."I can't please everyone, and trust me, today it's not going to be you."
I'm an inherent 'people pleaser'.
I always have been.
My trying to write to the masses probably won't work. For me.
But it will work out if I continue to write this blog how it started out. It' sole purpose as a medium for venting my thoughts. A creative outlet for what goes on in my head. Of late, I've been overly critical of what I write, and how. Wondering, before I even hit the 'Publish Now' button, of how it will be perceived. How it will be received.
My altered signage?: "I can't please everyone, and trust me, today it might not be you."
I love Lora over at Fever because she is. Is.
She's a little edgy sometimes. That's just her. If it bothers her that sometimes she pushes the envelope, it doesn't seem to show. C'mon...the girl just told the world that 'after her birthday she doesn't shave her legs below the knee!'
SuziCate at the WaterWitches Daughter had a post the other day about how she'd been 'found out' on her blog by those that know her. How it might change her tone of writing. But she worked through that probable change as she wrote...and then ended with "I write because I breathe, I breathe because I must."
Damned be those who don't like it.
Blanket apologies to those people.
Kudos to those that stay around.
I love that.
This morning I read an article which explained a common phenomena in the world of online communication. The article 'In Praise of Obscurity' by Clive Thompson in the February 2010 edition of Wired says: "When it comes to your social network, bigger is better. Or so we're told. The more followers and friends you have, the more awesome and important you are."
Perhaps that's why Julie at 47 and Starting Over left me a comment the other day of "Damn woman, you have 757 followers? I bow to your greatness!!!!" Although that is quite the compliment, I'm not great by any means. Seriously. I just lucked out.
My first two months of writing didn't get any comments whatsoever. I don't' think anyone even read them. Except Chrissy, who's my best friend and who started me blogging in the first place. There were a few comments left by 'anonymous' here and there. And a couple other fellow bloggers who stumbled upon my site accidentally. But I checked their profiles; all those from 12 months ago are no longer blogging, their sites either closed or not updated in the past year. Chris at Knucklehead was the first, still blogging, commenter that I had. And I'm grateful that he is still a reader.
I wrote those posts for me. About me. As blogging should be.
Clive Thompson goes on to state the case of a grad student who had started with Twitter at it's inception. It was a medium for conversational banter. She had a small group of friends. But once she amassed 3,000 followers it was like a little town; with the regulars conversing with each other through their 140 allotted characters. But once she reached 13,000 in the audience, the conversations stopped. The sense of community had evaporated.
"Why? Because socializing doesn't scale. Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they're following - who once seemed proximal, like a friend- now seems larger than life and remote."
They stop talking, or leaving comments. Because they didn't feel they could make a useful contribution to the conversation.
I've done that. I read blogs and although I'm bobbing my head along to what they're writing, I can't think of anything that would remotely 'stand out' to mention it in a comment. I like to periodically read Mr. London Street, but rarely leave comments because the rest of his readers seem so witty. I don't think my two cents would leave an impact. I feel slightly threatened by some, a little left on the outside, if you will. He's a bloggy superstar now with over 1000 followers since his 'blog of note' shout out. I wonder if he feel the pressure of going from 200 to a 1000 within a weeks time? I wonder if it changed his outlook on his posts?
Over the last year that I've been writing and posting it on my blog, I have built a network of BlogBuds (thank you Kathryn for the term) that are my extended circle of friends. I've not met most of them, but have talked with a few on the phone, or exchanged e-mails with many from time to time. I feel certain that if I were in their neck of the woods (or they in mine), I could call upon them and we would share some face time conversation. And perhaps a glass of wine. Or two.
The article in Wired continues to verbalize another thought I'd been having. "As the network gets larger, not only do the audiences feel estranged, but the participants start self-censoring. People start writing more cautiously, like politicians."
If your huge, with a gazillion followers, your social network could possibly generate revenue. But if your small, your just chatting with pals.
Obscurity can be beneficial.
Because your not talking at people, but with people.
That's not just cool, that's awesome.
I love that more.
It's nice to be somewhat obscure, hiding in the shadows so as to not be judged. But known enough in certain circles that your thoughts don't fall on deaf ears. It's a big world out there. Overwhelming in scope.
But it's you guys...my BlogBuds; it's the banter, the comments, the camaraderie, the connection with those that I'd not had if not for this blog...
That's what makes all this (gesturing at the web site) worthwhile.
I'd like to say, "Thanks."
Now carry on---you've got better things to do than read my drivel.