Hey dear friends.
By the way that “dear friends” opening is not me trying to win friends or be trite or whatever. I’m actually speaking to the few of you out there who are kindred spirits. Also the multiple personalities up in my head.
Today I’m going to share a fantastic resource with you from a fellow WordPress blogger. And he’s a PhD candidate so his word must be golden, right?
Right and wrong. Honestly the more I look at the whole PhD thing the more I see that PhD’s (and/or candidates) — of whom in some ways I am insanely jealous btw — are like any other group of people. Some are twits that understand strategy and social climbing and “parasiting” more than others, and some are heartfelt kindly folks interested in learning stuff, who want to make the world a better place. Most are a bit of both. And all are people who evidently thought having a title would improve their chances at succeeding at whatever they wanted to succeed at. Maybe even if that was simply succeeding at finding or validating their own self-worth or helping others see the worth they already know themselves to have.
Basically “PhD is as PhD does.” Brené Brown, in my view, is a good example of when a PhD is good, because a PhD does good. In this case she uses her PhD title to gain entrance onto various “talk” stages (E.g. TED) and whatnots, where she then proceeds to talk like your average human about average human emotions and quandaries. And she uses her position to advocate for minority groups. Michelle Obama is another fine example. Well she doesn’t have a PhD but rather a JD (Juris Doctor degree). She uses her doctorate status as well as her social status as former US first lady to change stereotypes in the way the world thinks about black women, and to advocate for, and help encourage, minority social groups in general.
But I digress. What I want to share here is this great tome of blogging information that speed-liking, scientific-minded, strategic but most importantly HONEST blogger Louis has shared, over at his blog “Learning to Write,” under the category “Off-topic.”
For any of you who, like me, have been completely naïve about the blogging world and how it works, this ream of currently about 20 posts, or more specifically, the five or so within that ream which apply directly to blogging, will help open your eyes. It sure opened mine!
e.g. For example, there is the article in the above-linked list, entitled:
“My experience of blogging over the last three months on WordPress – The good and the ethically questionable.”
The main thing I gleaned from that particular post is that cynics are out there. Like, I mean cynics even more cynical than wherever we ourselves are at, in our own becoming-more-cynical journey. And “they” are misinterpreting “our” intentions and actions, just like “we” at the more naïve, hopeful end of the spectrum are out there misinterpreting “theirs.”
One of the things that hit a nerve for me in Louis’s post:
Like up to 120 posts per hour – doing this usually notifies the recipient and prompts them to check out your site. I have found that roughly 5% of posts you like return a view to your site.
Follow up to 60 people per hour – I have not done this other than to find out the limit, so I do not know what kind of returns you can get.
I have not done the research to see how many comments you can leave as I cannot be bothered, if you wanted to do this legitimately you would have to bother reading peoples content and then tailor the comment. Which I doubt anyone would do.
(Boldface added by me.)
What?!? “Bother” reading people’s content? I feel like I’m in the twilight zone. My god have I ever been naïve! And I don’t mean fake, strategic naïve but genuinely newborn-style naïve!!!
By the way, I came to read Louis’s blog because he “liked” my posts from the beginning of my time on WordPress. A little subconscious part of me felt proud and validated because a PhD candidate who was “Learning to Write” liked my posts. That must mean my writing was spectacular, right?
Right and wrong. First, if I think so, it means that I am insanely narcissistic and/or naïve (in the blogging/writing world at least). Second of all, spectacular is a silly word, one that silly, exuberantly heartfelt folks like me use WAYYYYY too much. Calm down, silly exuberantly heartfelt folks! Even in the eyes of folks like us, who think SPECTACULAR is a spectacularly WONDERFUL and under-used word, the writing may or may not have been spectacular. Spectacular is subjective. Basically like anything, writing is as writing does.
Does it connect with a person? Then it is spectacular, or at least “okay,” to that person. (If it gives head-tingles then it is spectacular — at least, for that person at that moment in their life — ergo, it’s the meeting of minds that is actually the spectacular thing — a kind of thought-or-emotional-understanding orgasm.) Does it aim to achieve something more than just boost the status of the person writing it? Then it might also be good. Either way, the quality of my writing, and/or yours, and/or anyone else’s, has very little to do with the average amounts of likes it gets. Because, many of the likes come from people who are experimenting with getting likes and traffic to their own blogs.
WHAT?!?! I know, right. NO! It can’t be true. Why would anyone do that? It’s so weird, it’s so selfish, it’s so strategic, so unartistic, so disheartening, so cold-hearted, so… scientific.
Ah well. That’s the way the world is.
Well, scientific maybe, but disheartening, no. Honestly, the amount of cynicism out there is what’s disheartening.
What I have learned is that regardless of what cynics think, we the valiant hope warriors still exist. We still read people’s posts, no matter if it’s because we happened there because that person liked our post without reading it, unbeknownst to us. We read because WE ARE ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY. Weird, right?
BUT YES. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS!!! The ironic thing is that of course I’m preaching to the choir here. If you are actually reading this post rather than just “liking” it without reading it, you already know this, since you are one of those golden handfuls of people. But LOOK AT US, hello, we actually exist! In multitudes, actually! (Though most of us prefer to live in relative isolation, or in very small, peaceful colonies. Lol.)
And, we *learn* from reading those/these posts. We learn more about the world and how it works. We open our minds. Perhaps very few people will recognize this about us in return, since awakening is a quiet process. You can’t really shout about your own awakening, since that oddly causes it to fall back asleep somehow. But those few who “recognize” are golden!
Who are these people?
These people are the ones who applaud your efforts in the comments, without promoting their own. They’re also the ones who criticize or simply respond to your efforts in the comments, without promoting their own and without personally attacking you. They’re the ones who yes, actually read your post, often because you liked one of theirs (whether genuinely or not), and they (perhaps naïvely) wanted to learn more about you. And then they genuinely wanted to recognize your efforts and contribute to the conversation. I know, it’s weird right?!? But we do exist.
Mind you, we aren’t going to get any PhD’s for it. Not unless we dedicate a lot of time and energy towards achieving what some theorists say we need to achieve to get their fancy piece of paper. Which ultimately means spending a lot of money too. (Unless we’re strategic enough to find a way to spend someone else’s money to get that piece of paper. In which case we’ll be seen as even more noble and pure — e.g. PhD obtained via scholarship/bursary — or just as spoiled brats — e.g. PhD via parents’, spouse’s, or other private benefactor’s money.) i.e. It basically means investing in ourselves, just like the average zero-or-low-pay blogger does — oh wait except the blogger doesn’t need to spend much money, if any at all. Hmm, which is more noble? Probably the PhD blogger. ;))
It’s just a game, people. We might as well enjoy playing it. Whether that is by strategically getting PhD’s and empty-liking things or by rampant blogging and heartfelt engagement — or a mixture of both. For me, at the moment, rampant blogging and heartfelt engagement is my bag. I know that some see me as a hopeless sucker for that. But they needn’t worry, nor give up hope. For I might change at any moment. Cynicism conversion rate is wonderfully high. Also, let’s face it. It’s fun to experiment. Many of us “artists” are actually “scientists” at (he)art.
I’m cool with being seen as a hopeless sucker for the moment since I don’t really see myself that way. I see myself more as a hopeful. Hopeful what? A hopeful nothing, haha. I’m just hopeful, period. Hopeful that the world might actually exist out there exactly as I see it, filled with its mud and lotuses; hopeful that you get something from this bit of energy I’ve expended, hopeful that something that feels as good as writing does to me can be worthwhile just for the sake of it. I’m just hopeful.
And I’m grateful. Super grateful to scientists like Louis, who lay out the facts of their own existence, and through their objective honesty, make it really, really clear that likes and follows are MEANINGLESS in themselves, objectively, and meaningfully subjective, at best.
What does this mean to me as a writer, what should it mean to each of us hoping to express ourselves artistically? (AND YES, WE ARE ALL ARTISTS AND YES, WE MUST EXPRESS OURSELVES! Otherwise LIFE IS MEANINGLESS! AND WE WILL NOT EVOLVE! EVEN ANTS EXPRESS THEMSELVES!)
(Ok I don’t know if ants artistically express themselves. But they are really cool and work really hard and have been around since the dinosaur age! That’s good! Oh, but hang on, some of the more ambitious species, like red fire ants, and P. Lucidus, use techniques like brood parasiting and/or slave-making. That’s bad. And then humans make art out of their homes by killing them in mass exterminations. Which could be good and bad. Oh my god did I ever just go down the Internet rabbit-hole-I-mean-anthill there. Anyways… case in point. Ants should make art, if they don’t already. Maybe then they’d stop existing and become something else… oh never mind. I’m not scientific and I can’t argue for the life of me — except against the life of me. ;)) #existentialism
It means go write about whatever the fuck you want to write about. Enjoy every fucking moment of it too! Because no one cares. Except the kindred spirits who do. And they are cool. Or rather, warm. And they are curious. And they are like you. So they will find you. Or you will find them.
You don’t need a million. You only need a few good friends.
“We should always have three friends in our lives-one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”
― Michelle Obama
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. This post was sponsored by “hard-working spouse who actually knows how the world works and how to survive in it, as opposed to just talking about surviving in it.” Oh yeah and by two hyena-laughing monkeys wrestling on the bed of my “office” behind me, desperately needing my attention. Time to make lunch and “be IRL.” Thank you for reading. ❤︎