A change of pace: Social networks and High School

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This is a post on my other blog, about the mechanics of popularity.

I remember setting up the Multo blog a few years ago: my first blog explicitly meant for public consumption. On the “Follow” widget — the button that allows readers to follow a blog via email notifications — there is an option to show the count of the blog’s followers.

My first reaction: why would I want to do that?

It’s an insecurity reflex, of course, one left over from high school. I was never one of the popular or cool kids, though I was lucky enough not to be one of the pariahs, either. Like most of us, I flitted on the edges of the cool circle — the very outer edges, in my case — once in a while being noticed, mostly not. As my life, so will be my blog, my mind said. Why would I want to advertise my obscurity to the world?

The thought process wasn’t admirable, but perhaps the instinct was correct. …

It’s based on an article I read recently, but it’s also a meditation on chasing your numbers. Sometimes it’s appropriate to do that, of course. And sometimes, it’s not.

Read the whole article here.

Enjoy.

2 thoughts on “A change of pace: Social networks and High School

  1. I found your article on your personal site really interesting. I sometimes think about that–especially with Twitter, where the numbers are right there in front of you. I know I’ve been guilty of hesitating to follow someone with low numbers; I don’t know why, but I’m sure it has to do with that social truth of to be popular you must already be popular. What makes something comparable to your own output more popular (or less so) than yours. I have a friend who barely blogs, but yet his corresponding Twitter account has many followers. I wonder why is that? I think he is way more savvy than I am with that type of social networking.

    • I’m guilty of that same hesitation, too. And that’s in spite of the fact that my numbers probably also work against me. Human nature is what it is. Obviously, it can be overcome — everyone had to start with low numbers at some point — but it would be nice if we could hide the numbers and minimize the impact.

      When I was researching whether or not Twitter and FB friend/follower counts could be hidden (I’d never thought about it before reading Dodd’s article), I noticed that other people also wanted their numbers hidden. And every time they asked how to do it, someone else would ask “Why would your hide your follower count? I don’t get it.” Maybe wanting to hide your numbers (or at least understanding why someone would want to) is related to how popular you were in high school :)

      Re. your friend — yeah, he probably takes more naturally to the Twitter model of social interaction that you do (and I’m more like you). On the converse side, I follow someone on Twitter and WordPress who has over 7000 followers on her blog, and has been Freshly Pressed multiple times. Her articles get a lot of likes, and a lot of comments. But she doesn’t tweet at all, except to announce her posts, and she doesn’t follow anyone on Twitter either (she does have a well-followed Facebook page). And of course she posts a lot about the mechanics and the philosophy (for lack of a better term) of blogging and writing, which are topics with a lot more global appeal than, say, Filipino lower mythology and Golden Age ghost stories ;)

      I guess the upshot is, you have the most control over your content; the rest — of course you should make marketing effort, and so on, but a lot of it will be luck and timing, and so not completely under your control.

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