Sunday, October 12, 2008

If a post enters the blogosphere and no one comments on it, does it have any impact?

Heavy question for a long holiday weekend. But it's been on my mind, since I'm still relatively new to the blogging thing and I guess maybe I still need to be convinced that there's a point to it beyond being a purely egocentric forum for whatever it is about me that I want to broadcast to the anonymous masses who come here - mostly quite accidentally - and scan the offerings.

The days when I check my blog and see a comment are extremely gratifying - and rare. I've enjoyed learning how people found my blog and what of value they found in whatever post it was that they commented on. It's endlessly fascinating how connections work in this (n)etherland. I've "met" people who share my interest in family history, who have a loved one afflicted with the same disease that claimed my mother, and who want me to pursue one of my future projects. It is in these moments that Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the World Wide Web becomes real to me - that there is something in these links and pages of user-generated content that can not only connect but potentially heal humanity.

What I wonder about it why so many people from so many countries (at least a dozen, according to my site counter) come here, look around briefly, and leave without making their mark. Maybe they took a quick scan and didn't find anything worthwhile here. I can understand that. Different strokes for different folks. I can't get too upset if someone I don't know doesn't take interest in my personal life and work. But I sense that people (other than a certain colleague who lets me know in personal, analog terms that she has read and enjoyed my posts) are actually reading the content and then clicking away for someone else's two cents. To them I say, "Hey, at least leave a calling card so I can thank you for the visit."

For a writer, particularly, feedback is a critical part of the creative process. Yes, there's a certain sense of "I need to put this on paper regardless if anyone reads it" but the obverse of this is "If no one reads what I write, why then am I writing?" A song never heard by an audience may have an intrinsic value, but the lack of extrinsic interest and acceptance renders it largely moot. It calls to mind the famous quote by Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" To put it another way, if I choose to write that others may learn from and/or enjoy my writing, is there an audience willing to consume it? And should I choose to write to feed my soul rather than my family, how does that change my sense of role, of identity, both in and of myself and in the eyes of others?

And if not know, when? Well, therein lies the rub and the root of my inquiry. If you read something here and do not comment on it immediately, will you ever? And if the time to do so it now, will you do so? If not, why not? I am putting myself out here for your consumption. Will you not do the same? Is it coincidence that most of the comments I have received are from other bloggers? Who knows what lurks in the hearts of lurkers? If they don't comment, we'll never know.


Susan said...


And as for feeding one's soul vs. feeding one's family, I just blew my ENTIRE last writing check going out to dinner with friends. Sorry, family.

Jason M. Rubin said...

Ha! Guilted you into writing! How's everything in Trout Towers? Unfortunately, my wife too often uses my checks to feed retailers rather than creditors.