Get Your Snake Oil … Not Here

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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.imgres-3 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?
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.

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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.

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13 Replies to “Get Your Snake Oil … Not Here”

  1. Bill, I don’t get around to reading your blog every time there is a new post, but I do read every post from beginning to end. I enjoy the way you write and am intrigued by your points of view. I am reading The Juice and other stories and am enjoying it very much. I find the stories very thought provoking and introspective. Keep writing. I will keep reading.

    1. I’m an honest person, Bill and an avid reader. I don’t “suck up” to authors. If I don’t care for what I read, I don’t comment. Keep writing. You’re good at it.

  2. Reblogged this on Just Me and commented:

    Every now and again, I write something that turns out to be profound — not in it’s quality, but in it’s pertinence to my life. “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.”

    I forget this, almost daily. I suppose God (the universe) gave me these words, especially.

  3. No snake oil? We writers have a penchant for being drawn to magical solutions — hell, we even write about them sometimes. It’s easy to understand, though as most of the machinations, self-doubting hair-pulling, what-iffing etc. is hidden from the public view and hopefully, not visible at all in the final product. Thanks, Bill for grabbing us by the lapel and giving us a good shake right as we enter the midway. We’ll probably still try to knock over the milk-cans, but maybe we’ll have enough sense not to spring for the miracle cure-alls.

    1. Richard, it’s good to see you here. Thanks for your comment. I keep reading articles that tell us how all famous writers were nuts, with none of the people who penned the articles understanding that many writers were trashed after death by those jealous of their talent. Critics are insidious.

      But just as often, we are the worst critics of all, and so, easily preyed upon by those who’ll kiss our butts and pretend we’re brilliant, when all we really want is a strong dose of honesty. I wonder where you can get a prescription for that.

      1. Find a source, and I’ll be happy to design the packaging, gratis! I wish I could harden my heart a bit more, but since I write fiction, that doesn’t work at all. I, unfortunately, believe in both magic and a free lunch.

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