(Anita: Don’t read this. It’ll just piss you off. This warning is only for Anita. And it’s only on account of you don’t want me to worry so much what other people think. I don’t think it is a generally pissing-off kind of post.)
I have recently started hanging out a fair amount on Google+. I like G+ a lot; the structure of the posts with threading, and the ability to make and find public posts makes it a good place to meet new folks, find new readers, and find new conversational partners. It’s great for that. I go there to look for interesting writers and to post my own links. That’s what I’m there for.
So, yesterday, one of the Big Names (that is to say, somebody whose followers run into the thousands who gets referred to a lot by the other Big Names) that I follow told the people that she follows that she didn’t grant them permission to “pitch” her on their social networks, and said that she wanted us not to post links to our blogs, because if she wanted to read them, she’d be reading them already. Note that this was not a request not to send her links directly, but not to even post them to our public streams because that is like standing on a street corner trying to get people to come into our restaurants. If she wanted the food, she’d come in, already. Then she asked, “What does this bring up in you?”
So, before I go on, let me put this in context. This is part of a wider, “Blogging is dead,” zeitgeist that seems to be developing among the well-established:
Blogging lacks intimacy. People’s posts are either generic or stop short of what they could be if only the writers weren’t feeling confined by their social context. Real writers are sending directly to the inbox, only via permission, and all this blogging people are doing (so 2010) is messing up our public spaces.
Oh. And (from another writer) if people aren’t sharing your writing, it’s probably because it sucks, and if you just keep doing it for a few more years so you’ve had enough life experience and you learn to actually write and have some ideas, then maybe it will be interesting enough for me to bother sending a link your way. (This last one was from a twenty-something online-something expert. He’s single. He travels the world solo. He doesn’t blog any more. It doesn’t meet his needs.)
What does this bring up in me??? 275 posts later I’ve got 25 subscribers and now I’m not even supposed to try and find any new readers? What it brings up in me? I suck. Nobody wants to read my writing. If I were any good, I’d be “successful” by now. How dare I continue to pollute the world with my ideas??? I’ve been compared to a huckster flogging bad food that she crosses the street to avoid. I felt sucker punched. I felt like throwing up.
So, yeah. It brought stuff up.
And then (after several minutes of “I suck” angst) I thought, “How dare she tell me that I’m not allowed to offer my ideas to the world in a public forum? One in which she can make me disappear with a single click of the mouse. If she needs quiet that badly, why is she following all of us???”
The thing is, she writes about non-violent communication and boundaries.
Meditate. Breathe deeply. Talk it out for several hours. Non-violent communication and boundaries. She has the right to ask for something to meet a perceived need in herself. I have the right to say, “No.” I don’t even have to justify my, “no,” but in this case, I will. She has it entirely within her control whether she sees my public posts or not. I don’t have to do anything to change that. In my perception, she has made up a rule about public behaviour, and then applied it to the world around her, and then told us that we are rude for breaking it. I think that her asking me (us) to change my (our) (arguably perfectly reasonable, possibly even intended) behaviour for her comfort crosses a boundary into a presumed intimacy. THIS is why I’m so upset. At least, it is my best guess of why I’m so upset. I’m sure that several hours of therapy could add layers upon layers of upsettedness, but I’ve already spent an entire day on this, and I need to move on now. (This has spawned another entire post about whether blogging is, in fact, dead, or whether some of the super-bloggers, having already reaped its rewards, are maybe not in the best position to declare what the rest of us should be doing… but I digress.)
My online writing and social media use meets some of my needs for social and intellectual connection. I want to talk about strange esoteric things and explore challenging intellectual constructs. I don’t have employment in any of the careers I was trained for. I have three kids. I live in a rural community, which means that I have lots of access to personal interactions, that they know me at the post office, and that the new school principal already knew what my son’s extracurricular interests were. I’m pretty happy with my life. But it does somewhat limit my opportunities to stay up drinking beer and talking about… y’know. Grad school pub stuff. I get my grad school pub stuff by meeting strangers on the internet and striking up a conversation… like in grad school, but with less hand waving. And less beer. And less hand-waving-beer-sloshing. If they (the friends I haven’t met yet) aren’t sharing their links, I will never have the chance to meet them. And if I don’t share my links, my poor little baby ideas will sit here languishing, unread and unloved. Poor ideas. This makes me sad.
Fly little ideas. Make friends! Find other ideas! Make new ideas. (I kind of live in a universe where ideas have form, and it is my responsibility to nourish them the same way I do plants and pets.) And if you don’t want to see my ideas, please look somewhere else, rather than asking me to shut up, no matter how politely you do it.
‘K. Thanks. Bye.