I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this humble blog’s visit statistics have gone up since I added the links for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media at the bottom of each post. (Well, okay, literally it is a coincidence since the two things happened at the same time, but you know what I mean.) I’m still not altogether clear how that whole business works — I guess I’m grateful — but it gives me the chance to make some vaguely related meta musings.
- I’ve been told many times by many people that visit statistics for blogs are meaningless, or rather, that they are unimportant. They are not a validation of the blog’s worth or the value of the content. I think the message of that is that you should simply write whatever seems appropriate for your blog without an eye to pleasing anyone but yourself. Funny. I’ve heard that same advice about writing fiction.
- I don’t have a Twitter account — a Twitter persona — and I only use Facebook to keep up with the doings of my children (and my nephews to some extent though many of them are at an age when you don’t really want to know how they spent their Saturday night). I don’t know how this “platform” business works, and part of me thinks it’s a bit vain (or maybe desperate?). If you have Twitter followers, and you tweet something about your writing with an eye to promoting yourself, aren’t you just preaching to the choir? Aren’t they already paying attention? Or do they somehow re-tweet what you’ve said and spread your greatness for you?
- I sometimes wonder whether Herman Melville would have had a Facebook page or tweeted. I imagine Dickens would, but Faulkner? I doubt that Iris Murdoch would have had the patience for such nonsense. I don’t think Philip Roth does that kind of thing, yet he seems to be attracting readers. I wouldn’t want to be famous merely for being famous.
- I know of several writers who are currently taking a social media break. Here’s one. How much exposure is too much exposure? And when does a diversion become a distraction? I tend to be able to focus well when I am writing, but what if I had a more comprehensive social media presence? What if I were using it to enhance my “brand”? Would I need to be checking the value of my writing stock in the marketplace of ideas all the time? Would I need to be making more frequent posts on this humble blog? Would I feel that I always needed to be hustling?
- The appearance of ads at the bottom of my posts seems to be an ephemeral and inconstant phenomenon. Some people have reported seeing them; others say they never have. I’ve never seen them, but I assume that’s because I am the administrator of the blog. Someone mentioned that WordPress sometimes posts “selected” ads on “selected” blogs. If so, they’re doing it without my explicit cooperation or permission. (I’m sure I agreed to something about it in the terms of service.) Again, I’m annoyed at the commercialization of it. You may know of the recent flap at Google + about not being able to use fictitious names for your persona. You have to use your real name, but what Google really wants, one wag suggested, was not your real name but your wallet’s name.
I realize there is an intellectual inconsistency between my hesitant musings above and the fact that I keep a writing blog at all. I am already in the business of self promotion I suppose. But I don’t see the blog that way. For me it’s more of a sharing medium or maybe a sort of pressure valve for the swirl of “thoughts” in my head about what I stumble in the dark trying to do with words and ideas.
So what about you? What are your thoughts on all of this? Where am I wrong or misinformed? Enlighten me.