Reflections

It’s a funny old game, this blogging lark, isn’t it? We sit at home (other locations are available) in a kind of self-imposed solitude, thumping away at the keyboard while we spill out the contents of our mind. Then we hit that magic button marked ‘Publish’ and those thoughts can be seen by anyone in the world with access to the interweb. Doesn’t that strike you as a little strange? It does to me. Why do we do it? Are we all self-obsessed narcissists? Or exhibitionists?

It’s a given that we all had a reason for starting our blogs, and those can be many and varied. I won’t bore you by repeating yet again why I started – if you don’t know, but want to, just take a look at my ‘About Me’ page and all will be revealed (there’s a link to it in the top menu, just for you). Many of the blogs I follow have started for a similar reason to mine, but then again many haven’t. And therein lies the beauty and magic of it all, for me anyway: the sheer variety of the blogs I follow keeps me entertained, amused and in some cases instructed on a daily basis. I follow many of these because that blogger has also chosen to follow me and I deem it a courtesy to return that compliment – the likelihood is that we have interests in common and I will enjoy their blog too. There are two main reasons why I don’t follow back. The first of these is where I deem the following of my blog a blatant attempt – usually, but not always, by commercial concerns – to widen their own ‘fanbase’ by indiscriminate following of blogs they clearly have no interest in reading. Sorry guys, but you are very easy to spot! The second is…I’ll come back to that later (I’m such a tease!).

Something prompted me the other day to take a look at my blog’s statistics year by year since I first started this, back in late 2012. I was particularly taken by the stats for this year to date and how they differed from previous years. You’ll notice the link on the right to BlogSurfer – I added this not long after I started at the suggestion of the remarkable Cyd (see Thank You for more on her) and it resulted in some great stats in terms of page views up to 2015, when its influence waned dramatically. The total viewing figures for this year are only about a quarter of those for the peak years of 2013-4, but I don’t care in the slightest. Why? Because I can be pretty sure that the great majority of this year’s views have been from people who actually wanted to read my words, rather than by those who just dropped by in passing from another site. BlogSurfer has prompted just 18% of views this year – in 2013 it was over 90%. The other really revealing stats are that the total number of ‘likes’ this year is around 50% more than the combined total for all previous years, while the number of comments is 250% more!

Isn’t that why we do it? That apparently solo activity is actually helping us to communicate in a way that modern technology allows, and in a way that just hadn’t been imagined when I was younger. I don’t know about you, but I thrive on the interactions my blog generates, and these become a kind of addiction. The more I get, the more I crave. If you look at my blog posting habits, you’ll see that, apart from #NaBloPoMo in 2014 and 2015, my previous activity has been much less frequent than of late. This has also encouraged me to become much more active in commenting on others’ blogs – as some of you can attest! For me, 2016 has been the first year that blogging has really felt like being part of a community. I used to interact with some in the earlier days, but most of them no longer blog much, if at all. Several of you are now Facebook friends – people can deride that, but I see it as a mark of trust and friendship and I value it. If you look at my Facebook friends (my proper name is Clive Pilcher) you’ll see some familiar faces – including Cyd, whose daughter has left her page open for us to drop by and remember her. And if we aren’t already friends on Facebook, I’m open to offers….

I said I’d go back to the second reason why I wouldn’t follow a blog back. It’s a fairly simple one. I’m very fortunate to have English as my native tongue: it is probably the most widespread language worldwide, albeit with localised variations. I enjoyed learning languages at school and studied French and German to our A level standard. But that was more than 40 years ago and whilst I still recognise many of the words I can’t claim sufficient skills to read the languages now. I’m ashamed to admit it, but if your blog isn’t written in English I wouldn’t understand it. Until now, that is. WordPress has recently been promoting a widget for Google Translate, which is claimed to work in over 100 languages. I’ve added the widget – you can see it on the right. Isn’t this wonderful? If every blogger using WordPress added this to their site we could access so many more blogs than we can at present, and those of you that I haven’t followed back could open up your blogs to those, like me, who can only deal in English! Blogging is a global activity, so it seems a no-brainer to do this. My blog has been read by people in around 200 countries – I’d like to read yours too, then this community can truly become a global one! The support of the full worldwide blogging community can mean so much to so many, and I hope this little widget is widely adopted.

So, that’s why I do this and why it is a valuable part of my life. How is it for you? Do tell, I’d love the interaction 😉

 

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40 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. It’s all about connections for me. I love that me…a woman sitting in bed at the moment in Texas can simply click on a friends name and be anywhere in the world. I love the diversity and thought provoking conversations. I love the silliness and fun too. I’ve also been taken back by how understanding people are. How supportive. It’s been a great gift that I’ve given myself.

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  2. I started blogging as I was told it would be essential for marketing my book! However, it is now a huge part of my life and I have contact with lots of lovely, like minded people all around the world. I am on twitter and facebook now too but the interaction in the blogging world is very hard to match.

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  3. Hi Clive, I started my blog for the simple if crass reason that first the leader of my writer’s group suggested it and then a presenter at a writer’s workshop said to be published you had to have “a platform.” So at first I wrote about writing, then it became more real, more me, a sort of combination of my teaching and my life experience…a kind of generativity record as Erickson says, to pass on life lessons I learned the hard way for my kids and someday grandkids. Finally, as you say, I found some real like-minded souls and explored friendship in a whole new way. Now it’s part of how and with whom I think life through…especially a certain English friend. 😊 But for bed – really tired with all the packing! Jo

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    • Hi Jo. Those sound perfectly good reasons to me for starting a blog. It’s interesting the way we develop as we grow into it, isn’t it. Yours is one of my ‘must reads’ and the variety is part of that. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve made along the way, especially those from the other side of the pond. Hope you survive all the packing and can start enjoying your new home!

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  4. You always find such a wonderful way with words. I enjoy blogging as well, for many of the reasons you mentioned. But I have struggled to find my identity as a blogger. Gone back and forth a few times about usernames/blogs etc. Now I have gone back to my true Warrior Princess self 😉 Blogging is helping me find my identity again. I lost a lot of it to illness, and being on the blogosphere and interacting with people like you, Clive, has given me so much joy. Thank you again for being a cherished friend and a voice of humor yet reason. 🙂

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    • Ditto, yourself included! Apart from my #SaturdaySongs I try not to commit myself to anything regular, I couldn’t take on as much as you do. I admire your dedication!

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  5. As much as I love blogging, the making of friends, the interaction and helping people with health information, my own health has deteriorated because I am sitting typing so much! Also, I get so little sleep because my mind won’t switch off from coming up with ideas or thinking about something I read or comments I received, or even from worrying about a fellow blogger who is going through a particularly difficult time.I never imagined I would become so involved. I, too, had no idea what I was doing when I started and was surprised (initially disappointed) that everyone who took any interest in my blog was also a blogger. I thought I was just preaching to the converted and had hoped that I would be helping people who knew little about lifestyle/diet-related diseases, healthy eating etc but wanted help to make changes. Of course, this has all changed. There is such a mix of followers now and I in return am following all sorts of blogs I wouldn’t have accessed normally and have ‘met’ people from all walks of life from so many different cultures. My blog seems especially popular in India. Who knew?!

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    • I recommend following a mindfulness blog! Seriously, I know what you mean, but haven’t put myself in a position where people have expectations and where I feel I have a commitment. I guess the closest I’ve come to that is with my #SaturdaySongs, but otherwise I blog when I feel like it. Maybe you’re taking on too much? It sounds as though you could do with a rest, certainly, if it’s affecting your sleep. I called it an addiction, and it can so easily become that, can’t it?

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  6. I had no clue what blogging actually was until I started. I hadn’t really appreciated that it is a form of networking at some level and I certainly would never have understood that I would gain a community of people that i really value. Being a moderate hermit, I find it very pleasing to be able to sit at home and have meaningful contact with so many and it certainly spurs me on. The encouraging words received and being able to give encouraging words is nourishing at a very basic level for me. The downside is that as my community grows so does the time I spend blogging and I have to be careful to balance it. I have written one book and need to crack on with another …. I have several treatments on the back burners and you were one of a few yesterday who got me thinking about taking the A-Z to another level. At the very start, a writer called Susie Kelly found my blog and asked very sweetly if I might put a follow button on it so that she could, because she thought she would enjoy it. I did as bid and that transformed my thinking. Up to that point, I had not at all thought about followers although I had started to find and follow ones of my own. My middle name is Homer, by the way …. Doh! So Susie changed my thinking and if I was only allowed to thank one person it would be her. I must, before I finish acknowledge Cyd. I read your Thank You and it is levelling, poignant and touching. What an amazing woman she clearly was and how dreadfully tragic that she was taken so young. I’m glad you were able to know her. I wish I had too.

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    • I was the same, I sort of stumbled into the unknown when I started this. I had a lot of support at the outset, mostly from Twitter friends rather than fellow bloggers. The past year has seen a huge shift for me and, like you, it has become a much bigger part of my life. I welcome this, as it is good for the reasons you suggest. It feels much more like a two way conversation now, when in the past I was throwing words into a void and wondering what might happen. You’re one of the more recent additions to my blogging world but also one of those whose opinion I trust, it feels like we’ve been co-following for ages but is probably less than two months! I really hope you can find time and inspiration for the A-Z as I think it has real possibilities. And thank you for your kind words about Cyd. You two would have got on like the proverbial burning house 😊

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  7. Sometimes I feel as though my blog has taken over my life. Certainly, it has enriched it by giving it more of a day-to-day purpose. I remember as a small child feeling like I wanted to “do something” with every beautiful thing I saw..for the feeling I had for my baby nephew. I guess a blog is a way to do that.

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