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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Sunday, August 13, 2006

 

I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Blogosphere

This post isn't going to contain any links. It's not about you, her, him, or them. It's about what I'm feeling right now based on things I've read, situations I've been in, and conversations I've had. Also, I might feel completely different tomorrow or even right after I write this post. I hope so.

Dark side fact #1: Contradictions are everywhere.

Having said that, I doubt I'm the only one thinking these things...

Last night I had a nightmare that I was being swarmed by bees. This is an occurring nightmare for me; I don't like bees and I definitely don't like being stung by them. Does anybody?

As I lay in bed, half awake and half asleep, trying to forget about my dream, it suddenly hit me what the dream meant, at least what it meant last night: The Internet is trying to get me.

Dark side fact #2: Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean somebody's not out to get you.

You see, I've been feeling kind of twitchy lately about blogging. Not so much about what I'm writing, but about criticism, about the business of blogging, about popularity contests, about stats and the pressure to grow an audience, about success -- how we measure it, who cares, and why I'd be lying if I said I didn't. And about being unliked and about the need to have a thick skin or at least be able to fake it.

About bees buzzing around me, waiting for me to react to them and give them a reason to sting me. Excuse me if I sound paranoid.

I am a huge proponent of the support networks fueled by online communities. In particular, I am a huge proponent of the support networks that online communities of mommybloggers have built for themselves. But the problem with social media is that all of a sudden I know what you are thinking, and when what you are thinking isn't nice, I have to know how to deal with my responsive emotions. And sometimes I feel that an online reaction is called for, but most of the time I feel that no reaction is more appropriate. That's just me; I don't enjoy controversy.

Dark side fact #3: The Blogosphere loves controversy.

For many years I kept an online journal and yet was not part of the Blogosphere. I didn't have comments on my posts so I didn't know what people thought about my writing, either the content or how I presented it. I didn't read other blogs or comment on them. If I did happen upon a blog, I did so as a one-off visitor and a lurker. My life in the Blogosphere was utterly without responsibilities.

Dark side fact #4: Being a part of an online community is a lot of work.

Now I have been bitten by the blogging bug and I definitely count myself as part of this growing online community. Blogging has become something of a part-time career for me, and as a SAHM, I enjoy the structure and benefits that blogging has brought to my life. I even like the responsibilites to comment and post regularly. I didn't lie when I wrote my tagline; writing keeps me sane.

Here's what makes me crazy: when opportunities are afforded other bloggers because they have higher stats than I do, I am momentarily deflated. Because when all is said and done, in the Blogosphere the typical measures of success have to do with ratings, with links, with page views, with metrics involving numbers and people. The more (of all of the above), the better.

Dark side fact #5: Even if you work really hard, you may not be considered a success.

If I can consider blogging a part-time career, I can consider it the best one I've ever had as well as the worst one. I've never been in a sales-driven job and yet sometimes that's what blogging feels like. "Oh my god, it's the last day of the month and I need 700 more hits to do better than the month before! Ahhh!"

Dark side fact #6: There is pressure to be successful. Most of the time the pressure comes from within.

So it takes some pluck to stick it out in the blogosphere and a confidence I'm not always sure I have. I need a thick skin to put my thoughts and opinions online and potentially have them trashed by other people. I need a thick skin to be myself and have people dislike me for no other reason than the color of my hair or what kind of shoes I wear. The question is: Is my skin thick enough?

Dark side fact #7: People are meanies.

It takes courage to write the story of my life and realize that my story doesn't mean as much to other people as *her* story does. Am I boring? A crappy writer? Or just a shitty blogger? Or is it that I'm just not funny? Note to self: Write something funny! The people want funny!

Dark side fact #8: If you aren't funny, snarky, or controversial, you're doomed.

Unfortunately, when I get too caught up in the Blogosphere's metrics of success: stats, comments, rankings, it sucks all of the joy out of blogging. When I get too caught up in the business of blogging, I tend to forget why I started writing in the first place. This is *my* story; if I don't like it, who will? I also forget that the friendships I have made (note to self: it's okay if not everybody is your friend. Really.) are special and important to me.

Dark side fact #9: There will always be people who don't like you. The Blogosphere is no different from real life.

I am so glad I put these thoughts down in writing. Because now it's obvious to me what I completely missed last night in the throes of nightmare recovery. None of the bees in my nightmare stung me; I woke up before that happened. The same thing is true with the dark side of the Blogosphere. The Internet is only out to get me if I let it. But since I have the presence of mind to think about these cons -- this dark side that is both external as well as internal -- than I also have the presence of mind to analyze my thoughts from an intellectual, rather than an emotional, standpoint.

Dark side fact #10: It's possible it's all in your head.

Whew. So how was your weekend?

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