Contrary to popular belief, not all people wanting to connect are desperate. In fact, more than a few are looking for genuine, bilateral relationships. We don’t all have a crippled social skills. Some of us have robust lives, real friends, and successful careers. Our lives and self worth do not turn with the numbers of “likes” we get on posts. Therefore, if what we put out there is not your cup of tea, you should feel no guilt in ignoring it. I promise you I won’t like yours if I’m not feeling it.
So, it is with no trepidation at all that I turn once again to the Snake Oil salesmen of the interwebs, bloggers. No, not you, the other guy. The bloggers I’m talking about have already stopped reading, because only a few words shows up in their reader after they pop in their search terms, and “like” 115,000 posts so that we hicks like theirs back, and drive up their web traffic.
You know how it goes. You spend
minutes hours crafting your improvised tightly honed post, which you put out there without editing, crawl through draft after draft, just to make it perfect. Then, some huckster in a faux silk suit and a chimney-shaped hat clicks “like” and you think all your efforts have been rewarded.
Good on ya.
Except, let’s say, like me, you have tools that track views and visitors, and you notice that no one actually clicked on the post, and it’s 1,500 words long, and therefore, the jerk who “liked” it could not have read it. Well fuck you very much.
Even worse, let’s say you have a photography blog. No, bump that; let’s say I have a photography blog, because I do. Is it fair, in the world of interwebs reciprocity, for someone to like my post — which consists of 1 photo and ten words — to expect me to like theirs back, when the shortest of their posts is just north of War and Fucking Peace? (Editor’s note: I used Tolstoy’s manuscript title, not the final version.)
No, it the hell is not. I. Ain’t. Reading. Your. Novel. Son. Why? Because, you clicked on my photo precisely because it was quick. What you liked was that it required NOTHING on your part. That’s really lame.
Even worse, I spent some time this week looking for other street photographers who might have set up blogs. I’ve used most of the photo social media sites, and have tired of them. What I wanted was a simple way to see other shooters’ work, without complexity, while setting up my blog as a sort of a street photography portfolio. Simple in concept, no? Well, an interesting thing happened. I found a photographer whose work I really liked. I found myself clicking on 6 or 7 shots, all of which I liked. I followed the blog; things were looking up. I figured if the shooter liked my work, they would click on some of mine, or not. To my surprise, he did in fact follow my blog. This one. This has happened more than once.
Um, guess which blog you should have followed?
Now, perhaps the delightful
raw, barely edited, grade-C, stream-of-consciousness prose on this blog attracted them. More likely, however, the person only spent 2 seconds on my profile, and clicked “follow” on the 1st blog he saw (RalphtheDog.Wordpress.com) instead of my lovely (ChristShootstheStreet.Wordpress.com) photo blog. In effect, he was selling the snake oil that if I continue to “like” his stuff every day, my life would improve because he liked me back. My brain would produce endorphins, and the 100 likes per post would bring in droves of new readers.
But I have a question? WHO GIVES A SHIT?
Do people really care about numbers instead of improvement? Is the idea of sharing art in the hopes of reaching people who get your vision so alien? Are we all producers and not consumers? You know which stats I like? I like that my #1 and #2 viewed posts get ZERO comments. That’s because people searched on the 100 greatest writers, or dragons, and read (or not) because they are interested in the subject matter.
Getting fake likes on the interwebs is like finding out your close friend really hasn’t felt anything for you (or anything) in five years. The best case is you never find out. The worst case is that you question all the joy you thought you brought, the self-improvement you believed you made, and wonder if anything is real. Frankly, I’d rather have the snake.
Theda Bara as “Cleopatra”
The simple truth is that despite what we bloggers want to believe, The Public rarely reads blogs. When they do, they have no Blogger/Wordpress/OpenID, so you’ll rarely know when they loved your post. They may read it over and over, perhaps it will change their life. In extraordinarily rare instances, they will leave a comment, or send you an email thanking you for adding a bit to their life.
And, my friends, that will need to be enough.
You write because God gave you the words. If you’re doing this for any other reason, then it’s time to stop drinking the Snake Oil, and get your head right.