Thinking Out Loud

July 26, 2011

Blogging in a Vacuum; Or Thinking You Are

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:23 am

Bradley J. Moore from the blog Shrinking The Camel — give it a few seconds, it’ll kick in — feels he has a “micro following” and isn’t sure why he should bother.  Of course this from a guy who got over 50 comments to the post in question.  So I thought, “What the heck.  If it’s visibility he wants, it’s visibility he’s going to get.”

I am convinced I have more than a “micro following,” but alas, I say that from a populationally challenged perspective.  Anyway, he was just begging me to steal this post, wasn’t he?

So here’s what happens:

I’m dreaming up my next brilliant blog post while driving into work, say, or taking a shower or what have you, and suddenly this surreptitious little voice in my head interrupts, saying: “Who do you think you are? No one cares about your stupid blog! Look at you pathetic people, pretending to be so clever with your advice and wisdom and deep thoughts. What a load of crap! Let me tell you, the only two bloggers who matter out there are Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt – that’s it! Oh, and also that guy from Stuff Christians Like who got the book deal with Zondervan. That was impressive. Wait – and the girl who got the movie deal about Julia Child. That was a pretty good movie. But the rest of you are just stupid, stupid, stupid.”

And I’ll think to myself, “My God, what if he’s right?” I’ve been blogging for three years, and you would think by now I should be enjoying a burgeoning audience of thousands. Instead, I have barely scratched together what one might call a micro-following, numbered perhaps in the dozens.

Maybe I haven’t worked at it hard enough?

There is this coy little demotivational slogan I saw once that says,

Never has so much been written
by so many people,
and read by so few.”

This is funny to me now – not like “ha ha” funny, but in a scarily recognizable way.

When reading and commenting on other blogs, I confess that at times it can all seem so – I want to say – desperate. Here we are, pouring out our hearts and minds to the world, desperate for acknowledgement or attention or some meager crumb of validity to our creative output.

And sometimes, well, it does feel stupid. Like this whole blogging enterprise is some ridiculous pyramid scheme, where we’re all just propping each other up on some flimsy stack of digital cards to give the illusion that we are more significant than we really are.

There is so much talk about the power of social networking, but no one really mentions the more common situation: the online ghetto existence; words fed out to almost-empty space; the virtual echo chamber.

But here’s the thing: That little voice doesn’t stop me – I’ll go and write that next brilliant blog post anyway, and I’ll hit “publish,” and say to myself, “Well. I really like that post. Good job today, Brad.”

Then I’ll go read the next person’s blog and think, “Hey, this is good. I like the way they said that.” And then someone will send me a little email asking for my advice on something. Then I’ll get all thrilled to see that 42 people clicked on my post today, even if it was only for a three-second scan of the title, and – hey look! Some even took the time to say something nice.

So what if it’s stupid. Who cares if we’re all just making this up for each other’s delusional benefit. Because even if it’s just a couple dozen of us out there propping each other up, well, that’s something.

Bradley J. Moore


  1. Closed course, professional driver.
  2. You should never steal blog posts from people unless you have pages and pages of statistical data showing that people just read the excerpts but don’t click; or if the author of the post in question complains about readership and is thereby begging you to steal the article in question.
  3. “Populationally” is an interesting word because if you try to look it up in any search engine or online dictionary, it immediately fries your hard drive.  So just trust me on this one.
  4. How can a guy complain that he only gets 42 clicks on an article when he gets 50+ comments.  I’ve never had 50 comments on anything here unless you’re thinking of that article about that Bible teacher and author.
  5. His blog took my comment but not my link.  So he owes me.

May 29, 2010

If a Tree Falls in the Forest, and No One is There to Hear It…

Today’s item is a joint-post between this blog and my devotional blog, Christianity 201.

I got some rather flukey traffic this week which drove the stats to a record high.

Then there is Christianity 201, which I do mostly for myself. It has readers, but nothing close to this one. I enjoy blogging at Thinking out Loud, but I enjoy searching my own heart to come up with things to post to C201.

The contrasting stats reminds me of something that happened last summer, which my wife blogged as part of a longer piece:

…Boston was one of our most recent expeditions. Really interesting city (American history machine aside). Cool architecture, good subway, Chinatown, really easy to get lost, terrible maps, good food. Perfect. Some historic churches. Mostly for “freedom” reasons, of one kind or another.

We chanced upon one that really struck me. Not as old as some of the others, probably. No “Paul Revere slept through the sermon here” plaques. But a lovely red brick building, tucked away in one of the more serpentine neighborhoods. We climbed a few steps to a back door and found it unlocked, so we went in. Found ourselves in a foyer of sorts, creaky floored and unlit. There was another door in front of us, so we pulled that one open. Creak. Stepped to the threshold. Creak. Peeked through the door. Creak.

It was beautiful inside. Warm and hushed and soaring. Stained glass windows, old dark pews, draperies and candles. It smelled of polished wood and wax and flame and time and prayer. But we didn’t go in any further. We closed the door and left. Creaking all the way…

…You see, the reason why we left without really going in is that when we opened that inner door, we heard something.

Someone speaking. One voice.

One voice echoing through the room, over the pews, off the windows. The pews that were completely empty, the windows that were telling their stories to no one.

One voice, chanting in what might have been Latin. Reciting a text that no one would hear. Except the speaker and God himself. Because they were the only ones in the room.

As we left, we looked at the sign on the fence outside. “5:00 pm. Mass”. It was 5 pm. So the Mass was being said. Whether anyone was there to hear it or not. It had to be said.

Why? I have no clue. But it had to be said. If only to the antique pews and the priceless glass and the glowing candles and absolutely not a living soul. Haunted and driven by tradition. Disregarded by life and humanity.

…Church with a sermon and no congregation.

You can read her article which, in context, has a whole other set of meanings, with the most inescapable being what you get from the second last paragraph: Tradition; irrelevance; religiosity.

Christianity 201 is different, however. This is blogging in the original “web-log” sense of journal-keeping. It remains available for future discovery; readers driven perhaps by items I have yet to write.

(Have you ever noticed how close “stats” sounds to “status?” So stats-seeking is really status-seeking.)

And all of it of course is being read by some people already. I’d probably do this even if there weren’t any readers. Having tasted both the highs and lows of statistics, I’m not sure that one is better than the other. It’s somewhat similar to what I wrote about the contrasts between the large church we attended two weeks ago, and the much smaller one we attended last week.

Still, I don’t know how that Boston cleric could do it. Something unseen drives him to go through the forms of the mass even though no other humans are present…

…Although, I wonder if later that day, he suddenly remembered hearing the door creaking and sensed that an individual; no, wait; a couple came in, listened for a minute, and then left?

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