Digital Dusting

One of the aphorisms I’m fond of quoting is “given the freedom to do whatever they want, most people will choose to do what everybody else is doing.”  I don’t know who came up with it, but it is true.  And I’m probably as guilty as anyone.

It is natural for us to learn by watching and copying.  It is the way we learn everything from multiplication tables to driving a car.  But at some point, we need to put our own spin on things if we want to feel fulfilled.  As another of my favorite Eccentrics, George Ohr, the Mad Potter of Biloxi was fond of saying – “I am the Apostle Of Individuality!”

When I started blogging, and reading and commenting on others blogs, I noticed two things:
1. A lot of people who do other things for a living write really well.
2. A lot of people who write really well don’t write things that are very interesting.

I don’t say this to belittle anyone, but even when you get past the Mommy bloggers, the recipe bloggers, and others that are all kind of cut from same template, even a lot of creative people don’t put much of themselves into things.  And way too many are trying too hard to sell, sell, sell.  Or establish themselves as some kind of “thought leader”.

And I find myself falling into the same trap.  Sometimes when I get an idea from another blog, I find myself rehashing that idea without really adding much.  Kind of like picking something up, dusting it and cleaning it up a little and putting it on a new shelf.  You haven’t really created anything.

So I’m kind of at a crossroads.  Like any blogger, I’d like to see more subscribers and comments.  Writing for an audience that actually writes back is the thing I enjoy most.  But just copying the things that others are doing to kind of spruce things up is not the answer either.

It’s one of those times in which we know we need to make some changes but aren’t sure just which of the 10,000 directions we could go is the right one.  Maybe you’ve been there.

If you have, any wisdom you’d care to send my way is welcome!

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12 thoughts on “Digital Dusting

  1. Harry, sometimes we read things that resonate and want to expand—that happens to me and there’s nothing wrong with it. I have yet to see a post on your blog that is not original.

    I find it very difficult to connect. Either the blogs are boring, or if they’re not, the blogger doesn’t respond. This happens to me all the time, and I don’t get it, because what’s the point? Sometimes I find a blog I relate to but they don’t write back to my comments. I want to talk to the author, damnit! So after a few weeks of this, I unsubscribe. Are they snobs? Are they uninterested? Am I offensive? Do they think I’m stupid? I have no way of knowing if they don’t respond.

    In some ways we want to be like other people because it’s less stressful. I’ve had a life of alienation because I’m not. It’s caused depression and frustration and loneliness, which I still feel now in my fifties, but what can you do but accept it.

    It takes time and effort to connect with bloggers. I surf my tags and can’t believe how distasteful so many of the posts are. I’m searching for perception and sensitivity with a touch of humor. My philosophy tag constantly brings up religious extremes, it’s really annoying. I just want to talk about ideas and life. I’m taking a break from fiction blogs because the commenters grovel so, without actually saying anything. Ick. And controversial blogs are full of mean, smug people, from the blogger to the commenters. I strive to find a happy medium where I can voice my opinions without incurring hate mail. It’s hard, especially if you’re blogging as yourself.

    I don’t care what people do so much as what they think. That’s why those blogs you mentioned are boring. Who cares about your lunch? (And what is this obsession with food??) But take that lunch and turn it into an essay about the meaning of life and I might read it. That’s what you do, and I love hearing your thoughts. Please don’t say you’re thinking of quitting! (I think about it too though.)

    Are you finding any of these same problems I have?

    And I think tagging your posts helps a lot to get them out there. I don’t care so much about my own categories, but the tags are important. That way when people surf their favorite tags, you’ll show up. Your posts could go into many different tags!

    D.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Deb! I’m certainly not thinking of quitting, just trying to process what my impressions of the blogosphere are so far and see what I can do that is different. Your advice on tagging posts is good….that is something I had been wondering about, and you might have tipped me in that direction.

      I’m glad to have readers like you who take the time and effort to think and connect. It helps keep these new tools open to real communication instead of just being another channel to sell advertising on!

  2. Harry… just pick one. There are no wrong choices 🙂

    I know. Easier said than done. And I sure haven’t figured it out yet either… but as a fellow blogger I can really relate to what you are saying.

    It’s really tough to come up with fresh original content over and over again.

    It’s also tough to keep blogging when readers don’t write back… especially when you’ve put in 10+ hours writing and painting to bring the topic to life and have politely asked for their valued input [grin]

    And yes… it IS incredibly hard to keep forwardly focussed when there are so many voices out there all seemingly saying the very same thing.

    [There are authorities out there on everything… and sometimes I have to call a moratorium on my inbox!]

    It’s easy to get discouraged… and sometimes I do.

    But then I remember why I’m doing this. I’m doing it for me [which does sound kind of egocentric] but it helps when you find yourself out on a limb LOL

    I guess in the end it’s all about being true to yourself… and getting what you have to say out there. There’s no guarantee that everyone is going to like it… [but I have this kooky idea that eventually the words and pictures will find their way home – grin]

    Blogging is such a leap of faith. Especially when you’re giving it all you’ve got.

    [And you seem to be doing exactly that]

    I love the posts I’ve read here so far… your concise style of writing and how clearly you express your ideas. That already makes you kind of unique in the blogosphere!

    • Thanks for the well thought out advice, Jean! As the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and figuring out what direction to take that first step in is the tough part……
      Sometimes our tech-heavy world has us responding to somebody else’s algorithm before we realize we can design our own and see how it comes out!

      Thanks again for the compliment and echoing back from the blogging “void”! I hope you’ll keep in touch!

      • Oh heck sorry Harry 🙂 didn’t mean for it to sound like advice. Just thinking aloud really [grin] But if anything I said is of any use… then I’m glad.

        Like I said… I really like what you have to say and how you say it and your voice would be really missed if you ever stopped.

        I tried to subscribe [to your blog] but must have done something wrong as I haven’t received notification of your new posts. I’ll look into what I did [bearing in mind I managed to turn comments off while drafting my latest post and after four years of blogging have no idea how I did it!] It’s like the gremlins were perched on my shoulder willing me to fail… and I did so want people to look at my little vid! LOL Will email you if I can’t get the subscribe to work… and maybe you can point me in the right direction 🙂

  3. Harry, having written about 250 blog posts I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of riffing off of someone else’s idea. I did this in my most recent post, but I do try to find some link or twist with my own followers or, more importantly, how my own reactions were to what I am riffing on. (sorry for the jazz terminology).

    In many ways, it’s a bit like discovering that we’re all a lot more alike than we are different which is depressing because we think we are so damn unique. 🙂 I love when I see a tatooed, ear-ringed, grunge-dressed 20-something sneering at a tie-wearing, suit-donning 50-year old for being so conformist. In each example, neither are that original, but have found a place in the world to do what they do.

    I’m drifting. Your dilemma is a tough one and one many of us face. I think Jean’s words were very well stated.

    Keep your posts coming provided you enjoy writing them. If that ceases, then it’s time to stop writing them.

    • Hi John…I think we’re both aiming at the same thing – trying to add something instead of just parsing and rephrasing. And with all the blogging “experts” advising people to narrow their focus down to a pinpoint it becomes harder and harder to not be like everyone else. I guess I’m trying to assess whether or not this needs to be such a “narrow” medium. And who the hell are these experts, anyway? LOL

      I’ve stayed with your blog because it is a breath of fresh air in an over-bloviated area in which actual expertise is pretty hard to ferret out. And as some of the other commenters have stated, with all the sycophants out there in the world of tech and blogging, it’s good to hear somebody call bullshit once in a while when it’s needed!

      I definitely plan to keep stumbling on, I was really just trying to publicly re-assess the route and get the kind of feedback you and the others have given. Thanks as always!

      • Harry sorry for butting in [I know you’re replying to John] but just wanted to say how much I agree that the blogoshere needs more bloggers willing to call bullshit and upset the status quo. You could be that man [and perhaps therein lies your direction!] VOTE 1 Harry With His Arms Unfolded (((chuckles))) I’d vote for you!

      • Unlike a lot of bloggers – even WordPress advice! – I don’t believe in being controversial just for the sake of being controversial. But sometimes the “hive mind” gets a little too in tune with itself as people fall all over each other to agree and hopefully get some notice!

  4. I’m new to your blog having only found it a few days ago, so I’ve not read many of your posts yet, but I wouldn’t have bothered staying to read more than a couple of posts if I didn’t like it.

    My own blog is very varied. A look back through my posts (and archives) will reveal humorous posts, serious posts, posts with my paintings, posts with my photos. (Food posts are rare. I also find them boring).

    While I’ve only been blogging on WordPress for about 20 months, I’ve blogged elsewhere on and off sinc e2004, so I suppose you could say I’m a fairly experienced blogger. And what I can tell you is that blogs change direction many times for all different reasons, but most particularly they change direction as one changes, as one experiences different things. I don’t follow other people’s ways or styles, that’s just the way I am. I’ve always been like this.

    My current post is pretty mundane rather deliberately as I needed a break from my own thought processes which have been working overtime (I’m on a bp-reducing medicine which muddies-up my concentration bigtime) but the simple question it poses has brought people in and that’s good, because it means people are still coming to my blog. So when I’ve the energy to write a more cutting post, they’ll be there still.

    How to get more people to your blog? Takes a lot of work. You have to comment in other people’s blogs a lot (which means finding ones you like enough to do so), and respond – as you are doing – to their comments. There’s a lot more. It can wait.

    • Just checked your blog out Val – there is a lot to browse through! It does take a lot of time. I’ve only been at this a little over 2 months, so I’m still learning the ropes. There is a lot of conflicting advice on what to do and not to do, but as I always tend to just blast ahead anyway, that’s probably what I’ll do!

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