Blogging: Nobody Cares

18


Blogger Jack Maden finds out the hard way that when it comes to blogs there aren’t all that many people interested in what you have to say. Does anyone care besides the blogger?

The larger my bubble of experience grows the more I am beginning to realise that nobody really cares about anyone’s opinion but their own (thus the hilarious irony of this piece – and of all opinion pieces everywhere).

Is this the true face of the blogosphere?

This realisation fully set in when I – tentative and terrified – decided to start a blog. How nervous I was for the big live opening of me, as my mouse hovered over the ‘Publish Now’ button of my first post. How is the world going to react to this fiery new perspective on society? How soon will I be acknowledged as a champion of sharp, cutting, controversial social commentary?

Well, after a week of obsessive statistical analysis – one new page view, oh my god oh my god! Oh that was me – I can tell you the world was taking rather a while to notice this cool character that’d freshly burst onto the blogging scene.

Indeed, a month went by and about 90% of page views were mine – the remaining 10% being by friends who I had at first confided in and then essentially forced to view and ‘like’ my posts, which were appearing both less enthusiastically and less frequently.

Sadly – a shame for all humanity – my blog was dying.

It seems to happen a great deal. I read somewhere recently (probably completely untrue, but hey it’s the internet) that dead, inactive blogs make up around 50% of the internet – an elephant graveyard of emotional, social and deeply personal outpourings left abandoned in URL wastelands.

But why? – why do people make them, only to then abandon them?

Well, firstly, social-networking breeds narcissism. Think of the hours spent editing your MySpace, Bebo, facebook – ooh this charcoal background makes me look so edgy. Well the next step on from that, if you think the internet doesn’t really have enough you in it already, is blogging.

We crave for the world to know our views – to admire us for our views – and blogging seems like a great modern vehicle to convey these views.

But whilst blog sites like Tumblr and Blogspot provide awesome services in that they are free and easily accessible, they also provide their users with a false sense of ‘oh my God everyone on the internet will see this and I will be famous’ by showcasing successful blogs and pretending that once you publish a post, ripples will spread throughout the blogging community: this doesn’t happen.

Instead, you sit there tending the pathetic adrenaline rush caused by the latest press of the ‘Publish Now’ button alone. Nobody notices let alone cares that you’ve just updated your blog: networks in blogging communities are lacklustre and you’ll never come up in search engines. And so a sense of crushing embarrassment and self-conscious shame soon grows in the pit of your stomach, as you blush at a screen that displays your glaring, pointless, unread ponderings.

There is only one road that may muster up a few page views: self-promotion. The shameful, hateful road of self-promotion.

When you started out with your blog you never saw yourself posting links to it in facebook statuses or in tweets, but from innocent social commentator you find yourself transformed into a desperately annoying spammer: check out my latest post! Who needs the Guardian when you’ve got me! Freelance journalism in its purest form! Yeah!

But this gets tiresome, and often your peers are not the intended audience for your words anyway. So, you think ‘oh what’s the bloody point’ and give up. Or, like me, you start a bitter parody-blog that aims to satirize the most lol-gay elements of blogging (instagrammed photos, recycled quotes used to appear individual, cool words like ‘Existential’ in bold / italics) to pretend you were never silly enough to buy into the whole thing in the first place.

A really cool photo

So, what has my blogging experience taught me?

  • The internet can make you self-obsessed: indeed, I recall all those wasted hours refreshing the ‘Statistics’ page of my blog, only to discover that my most dedicated follower was in fact myself.
  • By joining a blog site you do not become part of a community of thoughtful people who wish to know your opinion, you merely make your own hysterical solitude public.
  • There are seven billion opinions on earth – yours doesn’t matter (sorry fellow Opinion writers).
  • And, it’s been a long time coming, but I think I’ve finally worked out what’s cool (hence this article): cynicism.
avatar

I am currently a second year student at Southampton University studying English and philosophy.

Discussion18 Comments

  1. avatar

    The internet does indeed make us self-obsessed and too celebratory of our own opinions, but I’d argue that there’s benefit to be found in scribing your thoughts.

    Whilst my incessant need to share opinions on Facebook has probably changed nothing and touched nobody, doing so for a few years has definitely improved a few skills.

    Some blogs are genuinely fantastic and insightful. That’s not a bad thing to aspire to.

  2. avatar

    I suppose it depends on how you measure the success of your blog. I would argue that one person who genuinely gains insight / inspiration from your post(s) is worth much more than a thousand who don’t give a flying one and are just following a trend.. and unless they contact you with a message of heartfelt gratitude after reading it there is no statistical tool to analyse this. I know the more views you have the more likely it seems that you will come across readers who find value in your words, but I would say just carry on doing what you do and be content that you have successfully expressed yourself. As Meg has said, do it for your own benefit.

    You can’t live / die for the acceptance of others.

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    You can successfully express yourself on a piece of paper, in private. The point is that blogs are usually catered toward an audience. So, whilst I myself don’t live / die by the acceptance of others, blogs – at least those that are more than mere public diaries / showcases of work – certainly do. What’s the point in publishing something that’s never read? By all means carry on with it (if you can be bothered), just don’t get too obsessed / upset when it’s not engaged with – that’s my advice.

    Hatchin
    avatar

    The way I see it is that by publishing a post you are allowing other people the opportunity to read / gain insight from your work, whereas notes on a piece of paper in your room are (relatively) inaccessible. Even if nobody reads your blog, at least you have given people the opportunity to; and who is to say that somebody won’t stumble upon your words in 20 years time and find them really relevant. That one hit on your page may still hold value to someone. And you may never know it. Then again you may never get any hits. I suppose what i’m saying is, for me, the most important thing is to stay true to the reasons you’re doing it in the first place. Interesting though.

    I know, with insights like this I should totally start a blog right?

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    Whilst this is true, people are rarely so selfless: if you make the effort to write something for other people (which usually involves toning down overly-personal / emotional / self-obsessed prose so that it is fit for public consumption), you want some feedback in return – it can get tiresome when those ‘other people’ aren’t actually there… After a few months of making yourself write and write, you do start to question who you are actually writing for, and if it is worth the effort.
    It is a much better idea (by far) to try to write for an actual publication. Otherwise, why bother editing your work for an audience that isn’t there – you may as well just keep it for your own eyes and save the hassle of having to edit anything. Unless of course you don’t mind making public what is usually deeply private / sentimental / shite – unedited work.

    Meg
    avatar

    What you say about people stumbling on your blog in 20 years time is really interesting. Surely the more personal blogs there are, the more material there is for future historians?

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    Haha yes, I wonder what conclusions they’ll draw – ‘wow this lot really enjoyed taking pointless photos, making them look vintage, then sharing them – complete with an inane caption’.

    I really hope in the future personal blogs aren’t considered a reflection of this generation.

    Meg
    avatar

    So, if Anne Frank and Samuel Pepys had Tumblr then we shouldn’t pay any attention?

    Ok.

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    They got their stories told fairly well with mere pen & paper, no? Besides you can hardly compare your average blogger with who you have mentioned: if someone has the ability to update a blog at their leisure, I doubt they are living under the level of oppression of Anne Frank.

    Important lives and events will always be recorded, you don’t need an online army of tumblr warriors for that.

    I appreciate that some blogs are interesting & will be invaluable sources of insight for future generations – I just think the majority will not. Besides, I’m sure future historians will be much more excited by online archives of legit media groups such as the Guardian & BBC for insights into our generation, than they will be by the blogosphere.

    Meg
    avatar

    Personally, I’d like to see personal blogs take an equal role to media archives for insights in to our generation, but lets agree to disagree.

  3. avatar

    The best bit is that you posted this online. There is no difference whatsoever between this post and a personal blog post. It is a personal opinion piece, and here we are commenting on it. Some people care and it is for those people who bloggers write. Journalists like dissing blogging just because they (sometimes) get paid for what bloggers do (and often do better). Unlike most journalists, who get a whole backup platform with a pre-built audience, bloggers need to work very hard at creating an audience. Some do and are very successful at that. So tired of this refried anti-blogging “news” items presented in what is essentially a blog!

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    This is not anti-blogging, it is anti-blog.
    I am well aware that this is an opinion piece: it is the blog platform I am critiquing, not the act of ‘blogging’ (writing opinion pieces?) itself.
    Blogs have all the significance of a Twitter or Facebook: anybody can make one. They are unqualified, thus not the best springboards for mustering up an audience.
    This is not a blog, it is an opinion section of a university paper, and submitting work to a publication is all part of ‘creating an audience’.

    Jack Maden
    avatar

    Just to add – whilst yes it IS possible to create your own audience with a blog, as I say in the article this often involves excessive self-promotion, and can get very tiresome (for both yourself and others).
    The key difference between this article + a personal blog post is that this has been endorsed and deemed worth reading by a third party (the Wessex Scene editors). Blogs are self-run and posts endorsed only by their authors, so readers will not know without reading if the post will be relevant / interesting / any good.

  4. avatar
    Benjamin D Brooks

    Well argued article, Though I’m going to have to disagree with you, or at the very least add a caveat. The points you make seem mostly to relate to what could be called “personal blogs”, but that isn’t the be-all and end-all of blogging.

    As someone who has been blogging for about four years (and still successfully maintains two of my three blogs) I fear that your post may be unnecessarily pessimistic? Sure, there are only a small number of “really” successful personal bloggers, but then as someone’s already said; this all relies on a definition of success. The same should be said of the “excessive marketing” of which you speak.

    Of my two blogs, I consider it a success that my personal blog still maintains a 10 view/day count despite a very sporadic publishing schedule (and that I haven’t stooped to “publish anything” or “publish every day/week” methods of blogging). As for my non-personal blog, it exists for a completely different purpose and I don’t care if it gets one view a year or indeed none.

    Think also on this: Without the blogs, social media and so forth; the internet would be a dull lifeless place where the only show of emotion was the newspaper op-ed… which aren’t always genuine!

  5. avatar
    Malcolm Gledhill

    I took to blogging as a way to improve my writing: private enough to be content with putting some perhaps niche posts, and public enough to make me enforce some sort of quality control. Two years of twice-monthly (ish) posts later and I’ve broken past the 11 000 hit mark, and have a regular readership amongst my Facebook friends of about 40, which I find pretty satisfactory.

  6. avatar

    Gaining an audience through blogging takes a lot of time, patience and consistency. You have to be willing to stick with it; you have to post somewhat consistently; and you also have to be willing to actively engage with other people’s blogs. You can’t expect somebody to randomly stumble across your blog, especially if like me you blog through sites such as Blogspot. You have to find and follow other people’s blogs. You have to comment and make your presence known. If you’re visible on another person’s blog sooner or later they’re going to get curious enough to check out yours, and then in my experience the ball gets rolling.

    It also helps if you have a niche. I blog about writing, reading and publishing, since not only is that what I’m interested in (I’m an English student, go figure), but that’s also the industry I want to get involved in. It means I can connect with other writers, as well as keep up to date with what’s happening in publishing. My blog is catered in a way for a specific audience. That alone helps in making my blog appealing, even if it isn’t tailored for a wide spectrum of society.

    I know blogging isn’t exactly the easiest thing. People expect instant gratification, and the fact is that isn’t very easy to come by. But if you really try and stick with it, you do get somewhere eventually. I think it all comes down to whether or not you want to dedicate yourself to it or not.

    Joe
    avatar

    I’m only writing this for my own gratification to convince myself I’m involved in the debate when I quite openly didn’t bother reading anyone elses comments because I couldn’t care less what they think any more than I expect you to read this comment.

Leave A Reply