I started blogging — the first time — in 2005. As blogs go, mine was pretty successful: I posted a combination of my warped humor, my take on the world, bits of poetry, and tons of advice, some useful. The advice led me to make several long-term friendships, including my best friend and former love. In terms of readers, I had over 100 per day, and more interaction than I could keep up with.
But then I noticed something: all of the people who read my blog were other bloggers who wanted me to read theirs. As an experiment, I stopped reading theirs – at least I stopped letting them know I did. Not surprisingly, my readership went from around 150 to 10, almost overnight.
It wasn’t real.
Most of the friendships turned out not to be either. Blogging, I learned, was nothing more than people doing work — in this case, reading — so that others would read them. I killed my blogs. Since then, I have started and stopped blogging several times, almost always for the same reason.
Popular blogs aren’t always the ones with the best content, the funniest stories, the crispest photography. No, they are all too often the ones where the blogger subscribes to a ton of blogs, and diligently clicks “like” every day, while reading the 10 percent that actually interests them. </pettiness> I’ve accepted that, though it sickens me. I refuse to spend hours of my day reading for no reason other than to gain attention. Likewise, I will never click “like” for anything I didn’t actually read and like.
When did things deteriorate to such a point? Only poets read poetry. Only photographers look at photos, and then only amateurs trying to get feedback on their work. Increasingly, only writers read. Are we now purely a society of quasi-art producers and no consumers? Is the idea of enjoying work without the need for reciprocity so passé? Will we all perish without our 15 bloody minutes of fame?
Please, please, DO NOT read my blog for any reason other than you want to. Don’t visit my photo blog if you don’t like my street photography. Do not read my novels or short stories if you don’t like my work. Don’t do it for me, or for the quid pro quo. I promise, I am fine creating work for myself. I write books for my grandkids, and they haven’t even been born yet. I do street photography because it’s like breathing to me.
I read what I like, visit where I like, and occasionally click “like” just to show I visit.
I guess I’m doomed to anonymity. I’d rather one sincere act of appreciation than 1,000 insincere ones. The world’s shallowness sometimes makes me wanna call Ralph in New York, tell him about a yak. Still, I have faith. I believe if I continue to do what I love, at some point someone will discover it — the old fashioned way. If not, oh well.
Some people just don’t appreciate gud art.
8 thoughts on “No Quid Pro Quo”
I’m with you. I don’t click “like” unless I really do like a post. I do like your perspective. Here’s to knowing you’ll carry on, without worrying about popularity!
Thanks so much. I appreciate that more than you know.
You’re welcome. Thanks for sharing!
Good on you for having this kind of integrity, Bill. Fleeting Internet popularity can be a tempting siren.
Thanks, Heidi. It’s hard sometimes.
I’ve noticed the more I read, like, and comment on other people’s blogs the more I get on my own. I am hoping someday to have people who read mine because they like what I have to say or like my books and want to see what I’m up to, or whatever genuine me they are after. But right now it’s a work in progress. I’m not sure I’ve found my voice, or my rhythm yet. Oh well, maybe someday
I 100% like this post. I’ve had posts where I have just clicked publish and I will get a like straight after and I know there is no way they could have read it so quickly. I find the better way of knowing how my posts are doing is to wait, and much later, see which posts still get hits/ searched for. Typically my remembrance/ war posts and silhouette, movement photography type posts are of interest and I am happy with that. I think those posts are a clearer reflection of my own experience and joy.
Thanks for your comment. I have similar experiences, including one post that got likes in seconds despite being a short story. It is usually the same people. I trust those whom are regulars or who found the post via a search.
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