Friday, July 16, 2010

Followers and Friends

It being summer and all, I've not checked out some blogs, but realized they were still on my "follow" list. A while back, when I discovered the follow feature, I thought it would somehow be an easier way to read everything I wanted to read, but the better way is to have an RSS feed. The follow feature is independent of it. I hate clutter and redundancies so decided to "unfollow" everybody. This was no easy feat because there was no such button ... I did find it eventually buried under the features of the blogs I follow.

I can't believe how cantankerous I am. I don't like words like "friend" or "follow" when all you're doing is reading someone's blog. What's wrong with "reader"? I only have a handful of friends, the rest being acquaintances or colleagues, and so I like to reserve the term "friend" for those special people. And as to follow, I only want to follow Jesus Christ. Words are so important to me, and when people use them casually, it irritates me. I won't go into turning verbs into nouns and vice versa ... they grate on my ears, even though I know language is always evolving.

Anyway, I got rid of the "follow" thingie on my blog as well because it makes no sense to me. Besides, my paltry numbers (20 or so) make me feel terribly unpopular (not that it's anything new). Nathan Bransford as 4,000+ followers. Wow! But I wonder how many of those followers actually read his posts. I was reading his stuff for a while when I was considering getting an agent and even entered one of his contests, but what's the point of saying I follow him when I am no longer reading his blog? Sorry Nathan, if you're reading this. When I am ready to look for an agent, I will most likely go back to reading his posts because they are full of agent-wisdom.

I've seen many contests lately about collecting more followers. I must be the only person on this planet who doesn't get it. Can someone enlighten me? For me blogging is about making a connection with my readers, and I enjoy the company and community of those who are sincere. But this entire "friends" and "followers" business feels more like a popularity contest than anything else. It's high school all over again ...

And now I'll probably lose the 20-odd followers and the 5 or so friends I do have ... but that's okay. I really am a crankypants. I'm nothing if honest.



Marcia said...

Funny, it was the friending feature that made me not want to get into LiveJournal. On the other hand, I have no problem with people limiting their exposure on Facebook to only those they choose, so maybe I'm just really inconsistent. Or maybe since LiveJournal came before Facebook, my thinking changed in between.

But if "following" means someone's blog updates are listed in my dashboard, that works for me. To me, the word means "keeping an eye on" in that context. I really do "keep an eye on" and visit most of the blogs/posts regularly, if not every time they post. What I don't get is when one individual follows a gigantic list of blogs that they can't possibly be reading. I'd think they signed on to those just to enter a contest, except I think enthusiastic friending/following happened first. I keep the number that I follow relatively small, or else "follow" has no meaning.

As for the RSS feed, I tried (not hard enough, most likely) to set that up, didn't get it, and said "Oh well." The concept of following was instantaneous.

I like followers because it seems reasonable that having a healthy number of them increases comments. Because another thing I don't see the point of is a blog that collects no comments. That's just talking to yourself in public, and strikes me as pathetic and pretentious. Yet I don't really want the follower list to stay static. Then we're back to our own little insulated group. For some reason, FB seems the place for that and a blog doesn't. At least to me.

I don't mind the term friend in following blogs. I'm like you -- I have only a handful of friends and have always been that way. I'm an introvert, and my reading and writing concentration make me fairly boring. BUT I've decided my horizons can and should expand. I now consider a broader variety and larger number of people my friends. They're not all bosom buddies, but they're my friends within the spheres of life that encircle us both, if that's not gaggingly cheesy. :) So I can extend the term to internet friends, too. Is it necessarily any different from the pen pals of yore?

You know what I thought when I started blogging? That the ICL students would come. Looking at my own and other instructors' blogs, I see that's apparently not the case. Interesting.

Ruth Donnelly said...

lol... I don't like the differing terminology among the different blogging services. "Friend" on LJ bothers me. I agree with Marcia about "following"--I feel like I follow a lot of blogs, but only ones I find interesting in terms of content. I look through them in blogger dashboard or google reader, looking at headlines or a short excerpt to see if I want to read more.
And for what it's worth, Vijaya, I followed you. ;)

Vijaya said...

Marcia and Ruth, thanks for sharing your thoughts on following blogs. I agree with you wholeheartedly that when there's no dialogue, it feels like you're talking to yourself. However, lots of times I read a blog and do not comment. Partly because I'm coming late to the discussion and partly because I am shy. And judging from statcounter, I know that folks read my blog without commenting, so I don't mind. I know people have been taught not to talk about religion or politics in polite company; it makes people uncomfortable. Interestingly, some folks do email me privately, and I'm glad when we can continue the discussion.

Of course, I have made friends via the Internet, but they are still only a handful :)

I have a theory about ICL students. Most of them are beginners and don't know about the various online communities. Those who are inclined probably hang out at the ICL forums (like I did when I first discovered them) and from there discover the other boards. The Blueboard was the best discovery for me.

By the way, Marcia, if you need help setting up an RSS feed, I can walk you through it. It is in fact, better than the follow feature.

And to both of you, thank you for following my rambling blog.

MollyMom103 said...

It's cool 'cause you are on the feed of my home page. You got a box on there. Hug, I'm for whatever works for you, and I'm glad you are figuring stuff out. Do not stop posting unless must because I am reading and I would be sad to not hear from you. M.

Vijaya said...

Molly, you've taught me so much over the years. I'm here to stay :) and needless to say, you're on my RSS feed. By the way, does this all ever remind you of MT Anderson's FEED?

Evelyn said...

I just finished catching up on your posts, Vijaya, and always love to read what you share. I don't read anybody's blog on a regular basis, so don't feel bad that I'm not here more often. I'm a slow reader and I have dial-up access--both of which means it's very time-consuming for me to visit blogs. Mostly I feel totally overwhelmed by all the information that's available on the web. I have a big family (60 now with just my sibs and our families) and I try to spend time maintaining those relationships. And Ralph and I started attending a new church this past year so I'm trying to build those relationships. I feel guilty that I'm not better about online friends, but I've decided I just can't do blogs too.
I do love your new blog look! The leaf background is glorious!

Vijaya said...

Ev, I am always happy to hear from you and I think your priorities are spot on -- real, in-person relationships should come before real, on-line relationships.

If I had a larger circle of family and friends right here, I wouldn't be online as much either. Unfortunately, many are scattered all over the world, so letters, emails and now blogs help us to stay connected. But it sure is not the same as having a cup of tea together in the backyard. And you know you're invited any time you decide to make a trip out here, right?

WordWrangler said...

My sweet V!

I've been so terrible about blogging lately and I've missed a lot on my friends' blogs, too. But wow - I love the new look! It's a soothing look and I like it!

As for the "follow" thing - I completely understand. However, I can't be kicked out of your fan club just because a "button" is no longer on your site. I'm here to stay! (hope that's okay!) :) :)


Vijaya said...

Donna, I'm happy you are here. And I noticed that your feed wasn't getting updated. I figured you must be busy with your girls ... it's summer, after all!

Thank you for stopping by and cheering me on.

Mary Witzl said...

I'm so out of it that I don't even know the difference between an RSS feed and following! -- is there one? I've listed the blogs I like on my sidebar and I just click on them from time to time, or when people comment on my blog, I get back to them on theirs, which has suited me well. I do feel a little odd whenever people talk about followers. I always make it a point to follow people IF I like their blogs or find them instructive, but that doesn't mean that I read their blogs religiously.

I love blogging and being able to meet other writers virtually -- it has meant so much to me. It makes me smile to think that this relatively new system of exchanging ideas and sharing our wisdom with others should have evolved its own etiquette, but of course that is only natural.

Whatever the case, I always enjoy reading your blog posts and I hope we'll still meet here in cyberspace, whether we're following or RSS-ing or posting on VK's!

Vijaya said...

Mary, I can be very cranky at times and because I have the RSS feed that works so well, I thought this other business was too much like the LJ platform with the "friends" feature.

You make an excellent point about etiquette. With everything being so new, a system will evolve that makes sense. Like you I have enjoyed meeting people and getting to know them "online" and many I've been able to meet in person. I hope your travels will bring you out to the beautiful Pacific NW some day ... we'll share a lot of laughter and food.