You’re All Numbers To Me

(if you are a humanoid Cylon at this point, I apologise for the potential insensitivity of that title)

Although I would like to participate in some Stephen Georg-style romantic appreciation of all of you various readers as individuals, and not just means to fill up my ‘views’ bar for today on my stats page, I do not; it’s not that I cannot, due to the ‘vast’ quantities of Likers and Followers I get, but partly because of the surprisingly limited nature of blogging, and partly because of a lack of interest in my part.

Regarding that last point, I’d like to stress that comments are different; I love receiving and replying to (occasionally after a conversation has died a slow death) comments, because they offer a level of engagement with a post or idea that the humble, near-anonymous ‘Like’ does not. I appreciate a Like, but I can’t really do anything with it: I don’t know what parts of the post you support, what you would challenge, or even if you read the whole thing.

And I do this myself; sadly, I end up reading posts before I go to bed or just after I wake up, and so I skim them at best, being both sleep-deprived and sleep-desiring. Therefore, I may agree with the gist of a post, but be unable to find a specific point of agreement or contention, valid enough to warrant actively alerting the writer of the initial point. While you guys might not be so dismissive, most of us blog (both through writing and reading) for fun, and it can be difficult to read regularly or even daily in a meaningful sense solely for entertainment.

So I don’t angrily dismiss every uncommenting Like, or every out-of-the-blue Follow, but I am less likely to try to engage with you as a person if you don’t engage with my posts like one; a computer program can click ‘Like’, but only a human can comment. And yes, part of this is due to some selfish feeling of entitlement, that I’m only worth a Like to you, so you’ll only be worth a Like to me, but humans are inherently flawed in the face of our aspirationally perfect fictional characters, so I’m sorry for my inherent humanity.

Blogging is also deceptively limited; although a platform built around writing for an infinite audience online sounds liberating, there are many bloggers who have Liked or Followed my blog and its posts, that themselves blog about topics I’m totally uninterested in. From reading a blogger’s prose, I can tell that they are a funny, eloquent person I’d probably get on with as a friend, but the limited focus of their posts means I can’t engage with the blogger as a person, or even the content of their posts.

And this is not a criticism of those bloggers: there is no authority in existence that has a right to put a limit on what you create and think, and how you express those ideas, but in writing about one particular topic, you’re always going to alienate someone. This is why I write broadly about ‘life’, it’s (hopefully) applicable to anyone with the means to read these posts.

You could even trace it back further, and blame WordPress itself for this dismissiveness; their sexy blue bar graphs provide a visual measure of ‘success’, that will attract anyone with eyes; it’s like moths to a bug zapper: I’ll follow the guidance of those blue bars, even if it means I end up worse off, because I treat my human audience as numbers to be earned like a video game, in the process.

But I’m not going to blame anyone, person or website; I feel that things we do for fun should have an element of subconsciousness to them – I play Madden because I can stop thinking aggressively for a while, and just enjoy the process of doing a thing. Equally, an individual may be the nicest person in the world, but if I just get a Like from them every month or so, I probably won’t be motivated to make a friend out of them, unless I make a consciously assertive effort, and go out of my way to build a bridge to that person, an action that would undermine the very values of relaxation and low pressure I associate with writing on this site.

So I’m sorry that I don’t try to make friends with every Liker and Follower I get, because every one of you rolls into the numbers that appear on my stats screen whenever I log in. And while I’m thankful for any kind of interaction and engagement from you guys with this blog, I’ll probably appreciate having a new friend if you comment, rather than appreciating an inflated view count if you don’t.

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15 thoughts on “You’re All Numbers To Me

    1. Nah, go for it – I wouldn’t write on a site that encourages commenting if I didn’t want you coming here to run your mouth.

      You’ve commented on these posts about a hundred times now dude – you’re obviously engaging with a lot of them already. You probably know more about what I think about things than I do by this point.

  1. I try to comment on posts when I can, but sometimes even though I liked the post I simply can’t think of anything I want to add to it. I do feel bad sometimes just clicking the like button but also don’t see the point of just making a comment such as “I liked this” when there is a button to do the same thing. But I really should try commenting more.

    1. I know exactly how you feel – you almost feel bad for not being able to respond to a post with an idea after someone’s taken the time to write all of the ideas in it.

      And yeah, commenting ‘I like this’ annoys me too – there are loads of posts where someone comments ‘I enjoyed this’ or something that, while being nice, aren’t really a ‘comment’ and are more of a ‘super like’.

      1. I find I get lots of similar type comments on my posts. Stuff like “I like this”. I really try to reply to every comment I get but when all I can say is “Thanks” it gets a little bit annoying.

        Especially when there is only so many different ways to say “thank you” and there could be 10+ comments all like that. I do like to have an actual conversation when I can I’m just not very good at it.

        1. You could ask people why they like it, and try to get them to talk about the post in more detail. Most ‘I like this’ people probably want to talk about the post, but don’t want to be pushy about it, so you starting that conversation could help them.

          Or just shout at them for being vague time-wasters and notification-ruiners. It’s your call really.

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