Popularity, Friends and Readers

I’ve never been the type to worry overly much about blog traffic. I’ve always maintained that I write what I write, and I do it for me. If others enjoy it, that’s great. For the most part, I post and try not to worry overly much about it afterwards. I do wonder at times if it’s worth it or if I shouldn’t be doing more to increase readership.

I know I am not alone in terms of lack of readership. There are blogs that I follow written by truly lovely people, and it breaks my heart every time I like something or comment on a witty, beautiful or interesting post and find that I am either the only one to do so or only one of two. I’ve noticed a few blogs written by published authors that also have no likes or comments. Why does that happen?

audiencePerhaps it’s because there are just so many blogs out there to read, or it could be that the blogger isn’t assertive or aggressive in promoting what they do, or it could be that the blogger’s content is too broad or even too specialized, or maybe they just don’t have a huge circle of friends (personal or virtual). Maybe blogging has just been done to death.

I hate the popularity thing. I had more than my share of that crap back in high school, and one of the things that I like about being online is that you are as anonymous as you choose to be. You can share a little or you can share a lot, you can write from the heart or you can make things up. No one, other than folks who know you in real life, know the truth. There are many bloggers who blog under a pseudonym. No one knows the real person behind the blog.

I try to be honest in what I write, but there are times I have to pull punches. I had a discussion online the other day with a friend about cuss words. I use them a lot in real life. Sorry, that’s just me, but I don’t use them very much online. Why? Because I still have elderly relatives who sometimes read what I write. They don’t need to read me dropping the f-bomb repeatedly. I don’t swear in posts for the same reason that I waited until after my mother had passed on to get my first tattoo. I try to save tender feelings where I can.

That doesn’t mean that my feelings aren’t sometimes hurt after I post. I agonize over things I write. I write and revise and write and revise. I don’t think I’ve ever posted off the cuff. I think hard about what I’ve written, and yes, even though I’ve said repeatedly that it does not matter, I look to see whether anyone liked it or not. When they don’t, I feel bad.

I feel bad enough sometimes to wonder why I bother. I get fed up or burned out every so often and walk away from blogging. My posts come in fits and starts sometimes. Maybe that’s why readership isn’t huge. But then again even when I post every day, the results are pretty much the same. I have a core group of friends who have stuck with me, and I love each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

I know my blog is sometimes all over the place (too broad). It’s a blog of squirrel photos, book reviews, creative writing, random musings and nonsense, but it’s mine. I’m proud of it. My blog was begun on August 12, 2012 on Blogger as “Reflections from a Middle-Aged Lady”. The first post was a musing on whether or not I should let my hair go completely gray. It wasn’t earth-shaking stuff, but it was a start. I’d been encouraged to write by a friend of mine.

I got my writing start in high school when I’d write silly romantic stories about hockey players starring me and my friends. My friends and I all wrote them. We’d gather at lunchtime and read each other’s offerings. It was a hoot. I was a shy kid, and I was pretty embarrassed when the official class prophecy for Charlotte High School’s graduating class of 1977 stated that I was destined to one day marry one of the Boston Bruins hockey players. We all know that didn’t happen, but my scribblings then were the precursor to my writing today.

I write because I have to. It’s part of who I am. Some days I’m more popular than others. That’s okay, too.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Communication is a funny thing. We all want to be heard even though we really don’t have anything to say.

“I thank you for your interest but it really wasn’t worth listening,” I heard son #1 say to son #2 last evening. He had been making some off the wall comment mainly to himself when his younger brother took his headphones off of one ear to say, “huh?” At least they were being polite to each other and trying to communicate.

heardI feel the same way son #1 did often in life. I will say something and it’s not profound. It’s nice to be acknowledged but it’s usually not worth repeating if someone doesn’t hear me the first time. I am often not heard. I think that’s from too many years of being shy and not speaking loudly enough. I mumble and my comments get overlooked. It’s odd because I can be plenty loud at home.

I also use far less classy language at home. I’m not proud to admit that I swear more than my trucker husband does. It’s a bad habit that I developed as a teenager. I was a shy kid and a nauseatingly good girl. I always behaved out in public and never wanted to disappoint my parents. I started swearing in high school because it was a secret way of defying my mother. My mother would’ve been horrified at some of the things that came out of my mouth when I was talking to friends. That’s why I did it and now that I’ve been doing it for 40 years, I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon. I try not to do it at work because I know better than that. I try to say things like “oh, crap” or “oh for heaven’s sake” when things go wrong and I feel the need to curse. It’s not quite the same, though.

I’ve had issues recently with a new person at work. I can be socially awkward but I’m usually never intentionally rude. When someone talks to me, I answer him or her. This individual doesn’t respond in social situations – ever. If you say “hi” or “hello”, this person looks you in the eye, says nothing and walks away. Someone else suggested that possibly this person is autistic. I took offense to that. I know autism. My son has it. He answers people when they address him. I taught him how to behave in public. The rude person at work walked away from me without speaking again yesterday. I ended up sticking my tongue out at the back of this person’s head. Yes, I’m real mature. I’ve been told that before.

My work day started yesterday with a shower of stones and pebbles coming off the rooftop of a building I was passing. I thought it was hail until I realized it was concrete. They were working on the roof of the building. You’d think they could’ve blocked the walkway off, huh? Talk about wanting to curse out loud. Then I came out onto our city’s main street to find a raving street person coming towards me. There are quite a few disturbed (drunk, high or whacked) people wandering around downtown. I could hear this one coming from blocks away. I started to move to the edge of the sidewalk closer to the street (to his left) and I did not make eye contact. As he approached me, he yelled, “Get your ass to the left!”  He yelled the same thing at someone behind me, too. Okay, at least I’ve never yelled that at anyone. Maybe I should try it out at work sometime. Can you imagine the reaction?

I suppose in this guy’s mind he was just communicating. He wanted to be heard so he made sure that he used his outdoor voice. While I didn’t appreciate his choice of words, it had the desired effect. No one got in his way.

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obnoxiousThe class I am taking at the moment in my Paralegal Studies degree program is Legal Research and Writing I (yes, there will be a “II” class). It’s not a bad class. It’s pretty much what I figured. We are doing research and writing (ha!). It’s a lot of brief writing, and while that’s hard to do, it’s manageable.

What’s not so manageable is a couple of the women in the class. If I cared more, I’d look up their backgrounds, but that’s not important right now. One likes to grill everyone else. We’re all learning this stuff; I don’t think any one of us qualifies as an expert. The scenario we are working on now involves a Trademark infringement case. Yes, I work at a law firm and have nine years’ actual experience in Intellectual Property law, but I haven’t lorded my experience level over anyone nor will I.

The “griller” waits until someone posts and then she dissects what they’ve posted (this is a fellow student – not the teacher). She will ask how we came to that conclusion, and then her posts will invariably begin with, “the statute says….”. She has yet to cite any of her references so I’m not sure if the statute says anything along the lines of what she says it does, and frankly, I don’t care. I answered one of her replies to a post of mine by stating, “well, you’re obviously more well-read on the subject than I am. I’m just learning this stuff”. I don’t feel that it’s necessary to make someone else feel bad about themselves to make yourself feel better.

Then there’s the obnoxious idiot. The “idiot” writes long posts, and she’s very chatty and friendly-sounding until she comments on one of your posts. Then she will say, “do you mind if I give you a helpful tip?” I’d like to say, “Hell, yes, I mind. Buzz off.” (Again, this is a fellow student – not the teacher). She’ll go on an on about how to do something, and then she’ll apologize if she came off as abrasive or obnoxious. I think that if you have to apologize for how you sounded on a regular basis, then you need to re-think what you just wrote. You obviously know you said something that might be misconstrued; so then don’t say it in the first place!

We do a reflection at the end of the week each week. Last week’s reflection prompt asked how we thought we were doing at the mid-way point of the class. I am afraid that I might have told the teacher I was doing well, but that there were two individuals in the class who made the experience less than enjoyable. I did not mention names; I didn’t think that I had to. Hey, you asked for my opinion. I’m going to give it. I am wise enough not to let the obnoxious part of me out on a daily basis, especially in a  class forum where I am getting graded on playing nice with others. I told the teacher my opinion in private. What she chooses to do with that information is her choice.

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