Posted in Of Bloggingly

Of Blogging and Mystery

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If you had told me, ten years ago, that I would spend hours watching people talk about what they ate for breakfast, I would have laughed at you. Real hard, with every bone in my body. I would have ROFLed and LMAOed simultaneously, because my sharper, younger brain would not have thought of a pastime as ridiculous as this. I had too many pop music reality shows to watch instead.

Recently, I was discussing the rudeness of bloggers who don’t reply to comments with Tamara from Orange Pond Connects, who wrote a genial and yet hard-hitting post on the subject. We got to the point of big bloggers and Youtubers, who never reply to comments unless it’s by people they personally know. She told me about a Youtuber who was advised by his/her PR people to not respond to comments, so as to remain mysterious. Something that is even more ridiculous than people like me watching them make breakfast, because they are the ones putting their entire lives on the internet. Really, what is this mystery you speak of?

Some bloggers of any level of popularity seem to miss out on a basic fact – your blog is nothing without your interaction with readers/viewers. If you are so complacent as to never reply to people who actually bother to read/watch your stuff, you are not mysterious, but insecure and arrogant. Yes, mystery is attractive. But, if so much as talking to another person, especially when they have a specific take on something you have put out, is so revealing to you, you never had much mystery in the first place.

There has always been an element of mystery in something produced for public consumption – not just art, but even in sports, news programmes etc. Often it is cultivated, but it is a good promotional strategy because there is no better way of reining audiences in, than to provoke their curiosity. Or you could go the other way, like so many Reality TV stars do, and give audiences everything, but make it so out of the ordinary, that it becomes a curiosity as well. With the first, you don’t say everything. With the second, you say something that people in the real world can’t fully comprehend.

It’s the old ‘donkey and the carrot’ idea – give people the idea that something satisfying is there down the line, but never actually give it to them. Of course, this whole premise is based on the fact that what you have to give is equivalent to what a carrot means to a donkey. You or your work has to be interesting. Youtube and blogging in general has introduced people in the entertainment and content creation business to the fact that everyday things can also be of interest. Only Beverly Hills housewives aren’t interesting, regular housewives also have an audience.

The difference lies in the fact that, not every regular home-maker (I hate the term ‘housewife’) is interested in taking high-quality pictures of her daily meals, presented on expensive cutlery. The reason I watch people making breakfast is the same reason I used to watch cookery shows on TV ten years ago – content and presentation. However, while these shows were built by trained professionals who had market research and extensive resources at hand, these blogs are completely personalised, limited to the presenter/content creator’s own experiences. The relatability is unbeatable, but the research isn’t, expectantly, up to the mark.

Which doesn’t mean I am a snob when it comes to hand-sown, home-grown media. Neither is Francis Ford Coppola, director of films like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, who said in the 80’s that home videos and camcorders were the future of entertainment. I actually prefer consuming content by more modest bloggers/vloggers, especially when I see the effort and originality they reflect with their limited means. They don’t have idiotic PR companies advising them to not interact with their readership/audience, and so they take a lot of effort to graciously reply to comments, participate in community activities, interact with bloggers on their blogs. The last two are optional, but the first is a no-brainer. If you are putting stuff out there, you have to be gracious and sensible enough to respond to what comes back to you. Otherwise, it doesn’t work. No matter how interesting your content maybe, people will get a whiff of how you consider yourself above human interaction, and they’ll stop interacting. There is a huge difference between being mysterious and being affable.

I have no interest in putting my entire life on the internet, or even to people I personally know. No one is allowed to be critical of my life. With my social media, I am trying to put out the best in me, things I feel will be useful to people, and things that are also of interest to me. Potential social media voyeurs will be disappointed, because there is nothing to tell, nor will anything ever be told. The biggest mystery I am holding about myself is that I am drop dead gorgeous, but it’s not like I will ever tell you about it.

Author:

Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

14 thoughts on “Of Blogging and Mystery

  1. I , too, am drop dead gorgeous (lol kidding!) I’ve been told I look 12 by complete strangers while out shopping with my children. I have decided to start charging people for saying that to me 😀 And great post! I suppose a bit of mystery is okay (social media should never act as a person’s private diary IMHO), but flat out not responding to those who leave kind comments is not being mysterious so much as it is being rude. And I try very hard not to be rude 🙂

    1. I was joking too! I get the opposite. Even when I was 12, people mistook me for an adult. I am 27 now, and people think I am in my 30s! Maybe, puffy undereyes are to blame for that one.
      There are often rude, or even mildly offensive comments, especially on other social media. It is what restricts me from trying other platforms, even if it is to promote my blog. I can imagine a 1000 ways that people would provide negative criticism, or just slurs, and I am sure there are many more I am not even aware of. The few times I’ve received such comments, I’ve either tried to be polite and reasoning, and if it was too offensive, I just didn’t “approve” it. However, if it was directly related to the post, I have approved and answered, as it is necessary to have opposing view points. The temptation there, is to lash out and be sarcastic, and it’s very hard to control yourself, even if you come across as “weak” because of it.

      1. Oh, yes, I think if a person didn’t agree with something and gave their side of the issue in a level-headed way, then that is perfectly fine. But unfortunately not everyone seems to be able to keep their tempers at bay on topics that are on the touchier side of things such as politics or religion or even what foods we should be eating! It’s crazy sometimes!

      2. I once posted a Neil Gaiman quote on things they don’t teach in school. I thought it was funny, but a teacher who read it got offended. I tried to tell her that while there are many hardworking, dedicated teachers out there, there are also many students who don’t have pleasant experiences. She then got personally offended by me! As if I was saying something no one has ever heard before!

      3. Neil Gaiman quotes are the best 🙂 And certainly a teacher should understand that there are just some things that can’t be taught in a school classroom. Many kids don’t even feel entirely comfortable being in a class amongst peers and have a hard time learning that way. I was certainly one of those kids.

      4. Me too! I told her I actually had a lovely time in school, and learnt many things I find of use even today. But, obviously, school can’t teach you EVERYTHING you need in life, and especially some of the really important stuff. But, she never even bothered to see this line of thought and just took personal offence against me! I felt bad for a whole 24 hours, until I received a comment from a regular follower who stood up for me, and also gave a balanced perspective. I felt so grateful to have built a community of people who are willing to stand up for me, when they don’t even know me!

  2. I guess I’m just so important that I don’t ever bother reading or responding to comments. 🙂 Totally kidding, I was told by someone who wasn’t even a blogger how much he appreciated my answering every comment, even with just a “thank you”.

    I used to hate getting comments, but I love it now.

    PS found you on the community pool 😉

      1. My pleasure. When I first started, I received a million horrible comments (cause I suck, I guess) and my mentor would remind me “Quack quack, duck’s back”… these meanies don’t mean anything. 😀

  3. I do keep a great deal of mystery about myself online, but I very nearly always like and/or respond to my readers. I feel that it would be rather arrogant not to do so. It’s annoying to try to start a small dialogue and get absolutely nothing in return when there are so many communication platforms out there.

    1. Very, very true. I always feel the post is “incomplete” without receiving comments. It is nice to get “likes”, and I am very grateful that such easy approval exists, but a comment means that the reader wanted to engage with the post, which is so flattering and exciting! People who don’t appreciate that, or choose to respond selectively, probably won’t grow much with their blogging qualitatively.
      Thank you for reading!

  4. If some comments on my blog I always try to respond and I’ve even written about trying to respond to comments on a post that has received a fair few similar ones but keeping the responses individual. It can be really difficult to respond to some comments though and sometimes I think you need to just leave a comment alone if responding is going to put you in a position your not comfortable with.
    This was defiantly an interesting read though.

    1. Thank you! Yes, there are comments from time to time that are difficult to answer because they may not be pleasant. But, I am talking about nice, polite, thoughtful responses on that particular post, or about the blog in general. With the first, it really is up to the blogger. Though everybody does it nowadays, it is still difficult for a lot of people to express themselves on social media, without fear of negative criticism. But, on WordPress at least, I’ve found there is a greater tendency to be polite when commenting. To completely ignore that, as some bloggers do, is doing only half of what they signed up for.

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