Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Good Ol' Fashioned Blogularity Contest

Why do you blog?

Don't jump straight to the comments just yet - I'll remind you at the end of the post to answer that question. But for now, just think about it.

Why do you blog?

I suspect we all have our reasons, and most - if not all - of those reasons overlap with other bloggers. As for me, there are a number of reasons, most of which I've discussed before. For one thing, I enjoy the opportunity to practice the craft of writing. Blogging is a daily (or close to daily) chance to work on improving my writing, and I already fully believe I can see a difference in my style, flow, and voice. It's also a form of (cheap) therapy, as Ali notes in her blog title; I use it to explore my feelings and share my burdens, as I'm sure you've noticed. My Depression Series, the cutting posts, the moments I write about missing my dad - that's all so I don't burst with the strain of keeping those things silent and bottled up. And, lastly, blogging is a good way to keep in touch with friends and quickly disseminate information. All in all, I have logical and - dare I say? - good reasons for blogging.

But I will openly confess that I have one major blogging motivation that I do not consider good:

I write to feel loved.

I write to stave off all my biggest fears about being unloved and unworthy; of not being good enough; of not being one of the cool kids; of being unwelcome and unaccepted. I write in the hopes that those fears will prove groundless.

This last reason for blogging is often in conflict with the others. Maybe people won't think I'm cool if my posts are always about depression, so maybe once in a while I don't get my therapy, because I'm trying to keep my readers. Or maybe I write too much for my perceived demographic, instead of branching out and experimenting with other styles. But for whatever reason, my desire to be loved by fellow bloggers does, at times, interfere with my blogging.

Basically, I want to be popular.

I am engaged in a full-fledged blogularity contest, even though sometimes I think I'm the only one entered.

You really should all go and read this post by Domestic Slackstress. It's phenomenal, and I can totally relate. However, if you're too lazy, I'll restate much of it here, adapting it in a few places to make it less "mommy-blog" specific:

"People are commenting that some blogs are now doubling as popularity contests. Gee, ya think? Blog awards bestowed upon bloggers from fellow bloggers appear to be at an all-time high. And some blog awards are getting downright ridiculous. And, yes, I'm jealous.

There's an award for everything now. While I'm all for patting each other on the blogging back, well, I think it's gone a little too far. Did I already admit that I'm jealous?

Perhaps I wouldn't be knocking some of these awards, gratuitous or not, if I'd just become the recipient of some amazing, impressive, complimentary blogging award. It's pretty likely I'd be basking in the glow of my accolades, not knocking the ubiquity and overall overcooked processed hot dog quality of the recent glut of blog awards."

[I'll acknowledge here that I have been VERY fortunate to have received a Perfect Post award, a Thinking Blogger award, and a Best of Blog Exchange nomination. So no, I wouldn't claim anything along the lines of 'I never win any awards.' I'm just ungrateful and greedy and always want more validation. I know - I'm a horrible person.]

"I'm going to come out and admit the ugly, embarrassing truth right now -- I wish I were a popular blogger. I hate it when I log on and see that my post of the day only garnered one measly comment or perhaps none at all. Why is it so easy to become a comments addict?

'Hi, my name is Lara David and I’m a comment-a-holic. I have been comment free for 10 days. I’m now living my life one comment at a time. From this day forward, I'm going to work the program and work the comments.'

I wish I could post something as simple as 'I went to Trader Joe's to buy Japanese Rice crackers because I had a craving for MSG and seaweed,' and instantly receive 32 comments saying irrelevant blibber blubber like, 'I loooove Nori Maki too.' and 'Wow. Great post. I was moved by your simplicity. Way to list your grocery list, girl. Keep up the good work.' Some of the posts that win a million comments are shockingly mundane. Shockingly terse. Shocking in their lack of content shock value. Shocking in their Lack. Of. Content. At. All.

Why do I feel the need to be a well-known, super-popular blogger?"

And yes, I'll pause here to acknowledge something else: I love you all, my readers, my commenters, my lurkers. I honestly do appreciate your words, every single one of them. Even when you feel like you're not saying anything important, because everyone else said all the stuff you would have said, so all you're adding is, "I agree with everyone else - I'm sending you a hug," it means the world to me. And not just for the comment numbers, but because I know it means you guys care, in some small way, about me and my struggles.

All of which only makes me feel worse for the fact that I still want more validation. I know it's terrible - terrible because it's so selfish. I just want to be popular, and what kind of motivation is that anyway? But my low self-esteem drives me to seek validation anywhere and everywhere I can. I need to know other people think I'm worth something, because God knows I don't.

I'm fanatical about counting comments, averaging comments, comparing comments. I'm obsessive about keeping track of who thinks I'm worth linking to in their sidebars. I stress and fret for hours over what to post, because how do I know what you all will like, and if I guess wrong, will you stop liking me? And while most of me just accepts that this is how I am, part of me really hates it.

All my life, I've been relatively popular. I can look back objectively and realize that I was often well-liked and welcomed in the "in" crowds. But I was only ever there as a fringe member. I was popular enough to be there - popular enough that the cool kids were genuinely happy to have me around - but close enough to the edge to constantly worry about slipping and falling to the second-highest social status, and damned if that wouldn't have just about killed me. I was there, where I wanted to be, but only barely, and because of that, I never really enjoyed it.

And now, I feel like that's where I am again, here in the blogosphere. I achieved all my initial blogging goals, and I have a community of bloggy friends and regular readers who all make me feel loved and genuinely supported; you all give me courage as I push through some tremendously heavy struggles. People like Her Bad Mother and Mom-1o1 and Mocha Momma welcome me and my comments at their "cool kids only" blogs. (And actually, none of them are snobby enough to be a "cool kids only" type of blogger.) I feel appreciated and generally liked, but I still feel scared that it will all slip away with one wrong move - that you'll all take off after one bad post.

I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm not totally convinced there is one, or even that there needs to be one. Maybe this is just something I need to accept and work through slowly over time. Or maybe it'll just always be a part of my low self-esteem. Who's to say? But I know one thing I can do right now, that might be a step in the right direction.

Remember at the very beginning of this post, when I asked you why you blog? And I said I'd remind you at the end of the post to comment with your answers? Well, I'm rescinding that offer, and making a request. This is a very important request, so listen up:

Don't comment.

I'm going to leave them open - I'll know that you *could* comment - but I'm asking you not to. I'm asking that there be a post, here on this day, with no comments. On my Excel spreadsheet, where I keep a count of my comments, there will be a zero, and my comments-per-post average will go down for a while. And I'm going to let myself be okay with that. I'm going to accept that that zero is not a reflection of me, my writing skills, or my likeability. In fact, maybe I'll even rejoice in it.

If you have thoughts that you really want to share, I welcome them, and you can feel free to email me (check my profile). Emails are not about popularity for me, because no one sees them - they aren't really public validation. And I don't want you guys to feel you can't still open a dialogue with me about my ideas here, if you have comments you'd like to share. So you are totally welcome to email me if you have something you want to say. Just don't do it unless you're doing it because *you* have something on your mind. If you'd just be doing it for me, don't do it, and by all means, take a day off to enjoy the silence. That "Raise Your Hand!" isn't budging from this post.

But just so you know, tomorrow I'll be desperate and vulnerable, so you all better come back to comment then.


Anonymous said...

Woo, first! [Looks around.] Oh, crap.

Anonymous said...

um, yeah, as a fellow girl with low self esteem, i can totally relate to this post.

i blog for many reasons. yes, it IS cheaper than actually getting a therapist. it's a place for my friends and family to see what's going on in my life. it's free publishing.

but yes, at the end of the day, i would love to be popular in this blogging world.

great, great post!

Kara said...

This is not a comment. So I'm not breaking the rule, see?

This... is a hello.


Anonymous said...

um...also...i tagged you, my dear!

Her Bad Mother said...

What a wonderful, honest post. I may ask to link to it at some point in the future - your discussion of comments and the emotional havoc that they can wreak is excellent, and something that Joy (gingajoy) and I have been talking about as part of our academic work on blogs, so I may want to quote you!

But for the moment I'll say this - comments are over-rated. My comment numbers are only a fraction of my actual traffic, and and if I were to ask myself my why 95% of my visitors DON't comment I'd go crazy. I don't always comment, for a variety of reasons, none having to do with 'liking' the blogger or not. But we all want to engage readers, so comments are addictive... such an interestign phenomenon

Domestic Slackstress said...

Hey - thanks for the shout-out. I'm comment addicted too. But that doesn't mean I comment on other people's blogs often enough. I'm such a hypocrite. I feel, if I want more comments/two-way discussion of my blog posts, I should take the time and effort to stop lurking and actually get my fingers on the keyboard. Thanks again.

Amanda said...

Hey you. No more asking me not to comment, k? Doesn't feel good, but I did it. For you.

Lara said...

sigh. y'all are not so good at following directions, are you? ah well, i still love you.

franz - you are a punk who craves attention. that is all. :-p

ali - i'm glad i'm not alone in this. therapy is good, but part of it is loving the love. for better or worse.

cape buffalo - ah, well, if it's just a hello, then that's different. hi!

ali - ah, so i see. thanks!

her bad mother - i would be incredibly honored for you to link to my post and/or quote it. and yes, understanding rationally that comments or a lack thereof do not speak to my worth as a person doesn't help me *feel* better, which is really too bad.

domestic slackstress - yes, that's the real trick. we desperately want people to come to us, and yet it's so hard to reach out to them. i don't comment enough myself. let's start commenting more - you and me both. :)

amanda - okay, okay, no more. i'll continue to allow comments from here on out.

Anonymous said...

It's true I crave attention: as an imaginary friend, my existence depends on the attention of a real friend.

Anonymous said...

Well, I was going to do as you asked, but, I feel more comfy with the rule breakers. lol
OK, yes I can see that being a comment addict might be part of a self esteem issue, BUT, there's another part of it. If you are with a group of people or friends, and you express an opinion or make a comment, it's normal, and human to want someone to answer you back or acknowledge that you just spoke. It's just good manners to answer back.... that's my answer and I'm sticking to it!
Actually one of my unofficial titles is "Queen of Comments" I blog to read other people's blogs, and it keeps me sane! lol

Lara said...

franz - well, fortunately, i still like you, so it's okay. i'm willing to spend some attention on you. :)

steph - rule-breakers are okay by me. thanks for your words - i think you're right in that it's a pretty human response. and if you're the "queen of comments," i hope to see you around here some more. ;)

ilker said...

Did you know? I recently got a brand new shiny dot com domain name! =)

Would you be so kind to change the links from ilkeryoldas.blogspot.com to www.thethinkingblog.com ?

Thanks a million!