As a blogger it’s easy to become blissfully unaware – you’re in control of your own site, you’re in control of your own content, so invariably how it appears to you is different from how it is read and interpreted by others.
That’s stating the obvious, I know, but I seem to keep forgetting this elementary fact. I like writing my articles, I like reading them back, but do other people?
I’ve been wondering about that and a related question recently, namely, what is the whole point of blogging? Certain blogs have a delineated objective, and or a social cause. Take Wings Over Scotland, originally it was started to promote the virtues of Scottish independence. To remain as relevant now as it was pre referendum WoS has expanded its remit, becoming a news digest that also follows media coverage and media behaviour, exposing its lies and hypocrisies.
But loads of people read that site, and it receives voluntary funding, so what about the rest of us who blog? The wee people, who do it as a hobby and for a bit of a laugh? Like me with this blog? Those of us who choose to opine on a random topic when it suits them? Those of us who don’t truly have a purpose or reason for doing it other than we can? Is the point of being a blogger and blogging to be read, be noticed, be interesting? Is it just a form of hubris, showing off how clever you are or think you are?
It is, I suppose, when boiled down, an intrinsic variant of a typical behavioural goal – an attempt to procure validation through popularity. There are different forms of that. For one person a solitary complement about something they’ve written is enough, for others it’s about reach, hits, views to make it worth their while. The more hits your blog gets, the more it reinforces the crude assumption that your content is good and that it is resonating, but then I would say that.
For clarification, just in case anyone is actually reading this, this site barely gets any views, and I’m fine with that. I’m not in it for hits, or even feedback, though any kind is welcome! I’m in it for practice, practicing thinking and then being able to write what I think.
However, I do get a surge of exuberance when I get a batch of hits, partly as it is so unexpected. After I’ve navigated to WLWASIOH my eyes invariably migrate to the perpetual stats counter at the top of the page. But why is there a default stats counter at the top of my blog, or anyone else’s blog to begin with? Why define what you’re blogging, and the quality of your content, in such a way?
Part of seeking an answer to that would also satiate another curiosity, just what did my site look like without the user settings, how does it appear to others?
The answer – not as good as it does to me.
I’ve come to detest certain forms of cynicism. WordPress’s set up is geared towards inculcating the notion of a blog’s success and worth being measured through hits, or traffic, because that’s how they measure theirs. It imposes adverts on blogs for its costs, yet when the blogger is logged in, he/she doesn’t see them, but they offer you the opportunity to pay a subscription fee to get rid of them. Basically that arrangement says ‘Hey, we have contempt for your readers, but you shouldn’t’. It’s a laughably unrealistic hypothesis, but you have to wonder what would happen if I paid to remove the ads and then started getting loads of traffic (without ads), how would WordPress view it?
And that got me to thinking, why not get rid of the ads? Sure, I’ll have to pay to do it, and I’m capitulating to WordPress’s rules by letting them rip me off, but at least anyone who happens to visit my site won’t endure the eyesore of creepy spamish scamish ads that promise you can earn £250 an hour working from home (aye, sure it will mate), Amazon attempting to punt its shitty unwanted stock, or a link to one of those vacuous sites that run dismally trite articles like ‘10 celebrities you didn’t know were bisexual’.
Even so, it’ll be a massive wrench. There’s something unsightly about paying not to have adverts on your blog. In the Upgrade section of the WordPress toolbar it is sold as ‘supercharging your blog’. For $99 a year (that’s about £70 in real money) you get the custom design option, more disk space, a custom site address and no ads, why would you need any of these silly frivolous garnishes for any other reason than you believe they might get your site more hits? Even if you don’t succumb and have no inclination to hand over your own cash, they’ve given you one by besmirching your site, and the content which you’ve put all the effort into, by sticking moronic ads underneath each post.
Think about this, I was going to write an article on recent Isis related events, the tone would likely be pious, and therefore boring, just like Isis themselves. Still, had I done so it would seem silly, ironic, even hilarious, or all of these things, if at the bottom of said article there was an ad for a single Muslim dating website.
If I wanted to get more hits I could easily think of doing something strange, or controversial, such as making Youtube videos of my daily trips to the toilet and uploading the pictures of my messes to the blog. Or how about taking pictures of the dead mutant squirrels that live nearby me, after I’ve shot them with an airgun, as some post-modern commentary on the death of urban wildlife? Even better, how about a photo history of how long it would take for me to be hospitalised if my diet consisted only of Flamin’ Hot Monster Munch and Irn Bru? If I did any of these things I would probably get more views than I do now, but it would be as a result of conceding to an audience that indulges in a contemptuous, snide X-Factor-esque level of narcissism. It would be a hollow achievement as I wouldn’t have challenged myself in any way shape or form to achieve it.
Believe me I hated writing and then reading this piece back. Moaning about inconsequentialities such as stat counters and ads on blogs is as dangerously trivial as those who adopt a selectivity of sensitivity, usually offering regurgitated platitudes so as not to offend those who are unlikely to take offense anyway. Take the reaction of many to Isis fighters smashing up Akkadian relics and artefacts, why pussyfoot around it? Just treat a cynical act with the scorn it deserves, to do otherwise is cynical in itself. Those Isis lads are clearly frustrated at the boredom of being so entrenched in their ideology that they have to find ‘fun’ distractions within its narrow remit. Think about how demoralising that must be, in this case the result is a futile attempt at rewriting history, in the era of social media no less. We all know why they’re so bitter, they would rather be having a long lie in, half watching Soccer Saturday while surfing the net looking for blonde Texan girls with big tits to wank at. For what it’s worth Freud would’ve just called them latent homosexuals and have done with it.
Unlike those Isis imbeciles I’m not going to let perceived injustices imposed by external influences like WordPress foment a needless and destructive frustration. I can only be concerned with forms of validation that will please me, the ones I can control. One of those is to remove as many forms of cynicism from my blog as possible. I’d like to think my content to date hasn’t been cynically driven, but that’s not for me to decide. That I’m not getting any hits suggests not, either that or what I’m writing is absolute balls.
So yeah, to answer the question – I’m going to be taking blogging seriously from now on, this blog will be a cynicism free zone. No ads baby. Maybe I’ll be able to train myself not to look at the stat counter? Perhaps when I ‘Supercharge’ my blog there’ll be an option to turn the stat counter off? What are the odds?