I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our place here. No, no, not “our” in the big sense — “our” as people, or humanity. And not the big “here” — you know, the world, or even the universe. I’m thinking of us bloggers. And our place in the innernets. We use blogging for different reasons — to exercise our creativity, maybe as an outlet or a place to vent, as a way of keeping family and friends up to speed on our lives, as an ego-stroking exercise — many bloggers, many reasons.
There are as many different personalities in the blogosphere as there are blogs. Now I’m not talking about the blogs that serve a particular purpose — sports blogs, political blogs, foodie blogs. Those are meant to pull in a particular demographic. We know what we’ll find there — an analysis of a conference football matchup, a diatribe against the liberal left or the crazed right wingers, something else to do with chicken.
Then there’s us. Those of us who write for fun. I mean, even if you get off on a rant about, say, twelve-year-old Chinese gymnasts or whether Spitz could beat Phelps, you’re still writing from within yourself. Your opinions, your experiences, your ideas. You’re not writing to make money. You’re not writing to get published. At least not here.
So why have we become this nation of worriers? Why do we care how many comments we get? And more importantly, why do we care whether the cool kids like us?
Back when I first started reading blogs — indeed, when I discovered this whole other world — I thought everyone was on pretty much an even keel. I thought everyone logged onto WordPress or Blogger or another free site, picked a template, and took off with it. Heck — and I’m ashamed to admit it — I even e-mailed the mighty Dooce once! Oh, yeah. I sure did. I saw that she got mentioned in some article and I was all “OMG-OMG-OMG- girlfrien’-you-are-so-gonna-die-they-mentioned-you-in-a-newspaper-article-gasp!”
Then I realized that that was the equivalent of writing to Coca Cola and telling them I think they can go ahead and go with the marketing of Diet Coke.
Once I discovered that there was a difference between us and them, then, things changed. I read how the cool kids got their start, how long they had been doing it, how they turned a hobby into a full-time job. And I thought, hey, I can do this. Because, frankly, they weren’t writing anything that I wasn’t. And you guys know me — I’m far from overly confident in my ability to grab and keep you — but it’s just not that difficult. And, again, some of it is just not all that great. I’m not talking about you-know-who directly — she has mass appeal and what she has done is admirable — so I don’t want anyone to think I’m slamming her or anyone else that has managed to make it work. Heck — I even signed up for ad revenue for a short time.
Uh, yeah. About that? Notice I still report to my day job?
The point is this — I see too many people worried about whether they are good enough to do this. I see too many people trying to measure their own sites by what other sites accomplish. And while it has bothered me for long time, something that happened recently really brought it to a head. Many of you are familiar with Twitter. It’s just another distraction client to keep up with this, that, and the other. To keep up with nothing. To tell people, in 140 words or less, that you just had the most incredible salad for lunch or that your blog post is up.
It’s. Not. Important.
But a big-time blogger wrote an article. About Twitter. And about how we misuse Twitter. And because she wrote it, people started worrying that they were tweeting incorrectly? And suddenly, within a couple of days, people stopped using “@messages,” even though there are ways to, you know, ignore them if they annoy you. Newsflash: YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ WHAT YOU DON’T WANT TO READ.
(At this point, I feel compelled to apologize to those who don’t use Twitter and who may not know what I’m talking about. But I’m not, because the message is the same — there are no rules. Well, except for ones that prohibit the use of all caps or excessive exclamation marks or the misuse of it’s/its and they’re/their/there and, of course, the use of run-on sentences to make a damn point.)
So here’s the thing. Do it for fun. Do it for whatever. But don’t do it for the approval of anyone other than yourself.
And hey — Twitter however the hell you want.