The world of blogging, as it turns out, is much akin to the world of politics. Socializing is a must and back-scratching the avenue to advancement. And much like how success in politics cannot be garnered without a large faithful following — blogging is much the same. The number of followers amassed, dictates the perception of one’s success. It’s a numbers game! — Follow Me! The Blogger’s obsession!
This month of December marks the completion of my first year as a blogger. If nothing else, it’s been one hell of a learning experience. I came in wearing diapers, clueless like a new born infant. I’d never even read a blog before (that I new of) never mind having to build a site of my own.
Now in the beginning of course, there were mistakes. Diaper changes were needed more than a few times because of mess-ups. Oh well, shit happens! Especially when learning something new and challenging like site-building and css coding. But with the help from the knowledgeable and patient staff of the WordPress service crew — I was finally ready for my very first post.
Yet, my learning curve wasn’t over. As most of you know or remember, blogging as a newbie means learning the rules, the do’s and don’ts and following blogosphere protocol. No problem, even though I was lacking any kind of social media experience — No Facebook page, Twitter account, No-Nothing! — the newness of it all kept me well engaged. I was now a blogger, and for awhile, my new toy and I got along just fine!
Then the same trap that happens to all of us happened to me. I began to worry about my lack of followers. Family and friends initially of course but nobody else seemed to be visiting my site. After researching, I learned that one had to visit, like, and comment on other sites in order to draw attention to my own.
Okay I thought, I could do that — and did!
Using Reader, I searched out blog sites of interest, ones relatable to me, left some Likes and comments and sure enough my visitations started to grow. Okay, I thought. A little socializing was all that was needed. Problem solved, and all seemed well again in the garden of Bloggersville!
Yet all too soon the garden grew needy, soon requiring my constant attention. All that socializing was leaving less time for my writing. And as my social circle grew and my search for new members expanded, I soon realized the situation I was in. My little part-time blogging adventure, had just become a full time job!
The Bloggersville garden would never again look the same. It was greedy, needy, time-consuming and constantly demanding of my attention! What started out as a fun little hobby, had somehow grown into a glutenous time-consuming monster. Corners needed to be cut. Time management, improved.
But what to do? Should I spend most of my time writing? Or schmoozing? Yet, one is inherently connected to the other! The only solution it seemed, was continue spending time — doing both! But that didn’t solve my time problems at all! Still, if I wanted to expand my follow readership, there was no other way to do this other then constantly expanding my social visits. It seems I was stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Then it hit me! An awakening happened! Like a slap in the face, forcing my eyes wide open. Much like when lust finally runs its course and your suddenly face to face with your lover and really seeing them for the first time. — Initial perceptions have changed!
The Blogging World — is not what it seems!
During an insightful conversation with a recent former blogger, the world of blogging was likened to a game! A game of reciprocity! I scratch your back (with Likes and Comments) and maybe, just maybe, you’ll scratch mine! I’ll follow you — if you follow me!
The conversation continued with…The popularity of a blog (thus its numbered followers) is not primarily determined by its content quality! Rather, it’s owner’s capacity for socializing. And, an ongoing time-consuming commitment to this is required. Both to sustain followers and in acquiring new ones.
An underlining presumption of Tit-for-Tat permeates through the blogging world. Likes, and comments, often used as handshakes of reciprocating. Followings, the same! In blogging, perception is everything and Follow numbers are number one! That’s why Increasing one’s followed numbers has become the bloggers obsession. Yet how they are acquired, seems of no concern.
Now of course this is not headline news for the long-time blogger. Its conclusions reachable by anyone in due time. And, it’s not the be all to end all, set in stone acknowledgement either. There are of course exceptions. Yet, if one is intently focused, or even somewhat obsessively concerned about his/her follow-numbers — it seems one must play the social reciprocal game!
This recognition, popped a hole in my smiley-face balloon. Sending it zigzagging crazily up into the air only to fall totally deflated at my feet. Searching the blogosphere endlessly for new followers, relatable to me or not, was not what I signed up for.
In fact, spending vast amounts of time schmoozing, just to increase my following, seemed almost corrupt — a manipulation in self-deceit! Delusional or not, I looked to gain followers based on my content quality, or uniqueness, not via social engagement to the purposes of tit for tat!
Then again, the Blogosphere is a vast universe. How else would people know that I’m here?
So? What to do?
I could continue to concern myself with numbers and keep playing the time-consuming social game? Spending ever-more time looking for followers — or, I could simply pack it in! Say enough is enough, my enjoyment of blogging has ended. Throw up my hands in disgust and move on to something else.
Then again, I could stop being concerned over the numbers and keep my socializing to a minimum. Prioritizing sites of personal interest, relevancy, or ones I enjoy enough to return. Thus freeing up time for what I really want to do. And that’s writing quality posts!
In the end —The choice was obvious!
So now I look to forge online friendships instead of followers. Those few that share a commonality with me, with my perspectives, or even who are simply good-natured amicable people. People I would probably like in the real world. Because, no-matter the illusion of the digital world — it is not real!
For some, the digital social world is a fantasy world, where identity diverges from reality. Where perceptions are manufactured (knowingly or not) and reality takes a back seat. Where anyone can be anyone, any background built egotistically, any thoughts, ideas, easily hi-jacked from others.
After all, your acceptance of their validity is based only on words. Words you read on a screen, authored by the hidden and unseen. Tapping keys behind a veil of obscurity. The blogosphere, is not all that it seems!
How many play this game of deception? I don’t know. Then again, neither do you! Some, even do so without even knowing it. Elevating their digital status by omitting personal truths while boosting others. Regardless, sifting through the mass of digital beings, looking for genuine players can at times, be a daunting task.
One things for sure, playing the game of tit for tat, will not expose the real, from the portrayer’s.
HAPPY IN MY CHOICE
I still peruse blog sites now and then. Visit some new, but mostly from my list of followers. From the new, I choose only posts that interest me, my likes and comments reserved for those and those alone. And if in conversation we happen to find grounds of compatibility, so be it and all the better. But, I no-longer hunt for follower’s, nor indulge in the reciprocal game of Tit-for-Tat. Been there, done that, moving on now!
In the end, I think my decision was a good one. My smiley-face balloon is back floating happily in the air. I hold dear to the followers I do have and enjoy our occasional conversations. Whether on my site or there’s. I spend less time online now and as a result enjoy it more when I am.
But best of all my Bloggersville garden — no-longer needs my constant attention.
I will however, never reach 1,000 followers. More that 200 would be a stretch. But this no-longer matters to me, my ego is back in check. I’m back to blogging not for increasing numbers but for my own enjoyment and self-satisfaction. The way it should be. In my mind anyways.
Maybe I’m still delusional, but I’m hoping any new followers from now on will arrive earned and not bought. For this was the illusion I was under when I first started blogging. To have my authoring’s shared, judged and appreciated for the quality of their content and their personal uniqueness. And that alone!
BUT WHAT IF I’M WRONG?
Maybe I am seriously delusional? Maybe, I’ve got it all wrong? The numbers game and the perception it brings, true or false, is all that matters in the blogging world. It’s a game of numbers and the one’s with the most followers — win! The rest of us regulated to the scrap heap. Forever lesser known in the battle for acknowledgement in the competitive digital world of the personal blogger.
Do follower numbers matter?
Must we play the Game?
Is Follow Me, an inherent blogging obsession?