13 June 2008

Numerologically Pointless

This is my 260th blog on this server. In recent months,I've noticed a trend of commentary. When I write about personal stuff, subjective struggle, I get comments. When I write political/social commentary/criticism, noone has anything to say.

Barring that my friends are idiots, they're not; people actually want to hear dirty laundry shit more than critical analysis of general human behavior.

Sadly, this proves many points.


rl said...

Well, I think people do want to hear subjective content more than theoretical observations, but it's worth unpacking that idea. I think you ought to consider that it’s easier to relate to your subjective emotional content than to your sociological commentary.

This is especially true given that your commenter base is most likely made up largely of your friends, who are A) likely to be interested in what their often-opaque (and in my case physically far away) friend is feeling and B) likely to be less well-read than you, who has just undergone the equivalent of boot camp in politics and sociology and is therefore light years ahead of us in both theory and practice.

Another thing to consider is that your tone of writing differs completely between the two fields. In writing about politics and sociology, you write in a non-emotional and academic tone (by which I mean theoretical, critical and using elevated non-vernacular diction). In writing about yourself, you write passionate, physically descriptive, and inviting prose. I would hasten to add that this difference in tone isn’t a bad thing, it’s just important to recognize that it exists and that different tones provoke difference responses from an audience.

As an example, let's example the sentence "Sadly, this proves many points."

Without being overly self-critical, ask yourself how you expect the reader respond to that. Put yourself in the reader's shoes: Which points are you referring to? What proves them? Perhaps most importantly, who thinks they prove these points? I know you as the author think that, but using the academically mandated indirect voice instead of prefacing it with some sort of subjective qualifier (.e.g. "I think this proves many points") leaves no room for response. You’ve removed yourself from the argument and effectively made a statement of authority with which no one has any leeway to argue.

I’m not saying you’re being pedantic nor am I saying that you’re talking down to your audience. I’m saying that you’re not putting enough of yourself into your writing about social and political criticism. It’s much easier for a general audience to engage personally and to respond on that level. If your reader base was built of sociology students I wouldn’t be writing any of this, because the expectations of your audience would be different.

The blog - because of its immediacy and the interplay between writer and reader - is a very intimate and direct medium, and because of that the most successful blogs are the ones which make possible a relationship between audience and writer. This is true, I think, even if that relationship is incidental to the content of the blog.

Seth J G Goodkind said...

Bang-on. I knew I felt different when I was writing 'em, but I never quite saw it that clear cut.

Seth J G Goodkind said...

But fuck that, you mean to tell me that when I dredge up pertinent social issues, obscure or not, nobody cares? Honestly I only think that I lack the readership. Not that I want it. Just that I refuse to believe that social issues are generally disinteresting. My style certainly turns off certain people, but I haven't seen that to be a detriment in other circles.