Experiment - Write for Nobody
Social feedback is really good at making people ordinary. People don’t like strange things, and the negative reinforcement is quite quick and powerful. Most of the posts I’ve read about how to write good blog posts talk about how to write good blog posts for blog popularity. Which makes sense if you’re optimizing your blog for popularity, but I don’t think I am. I’m trying to get my crazy thoughts out of my head before I forget them, and decided that I might as well improve my writing while doing it. Plus I enjoy the fact that someone out there may find some of this interesting and perhaps engage me in a conversation more interesting than standard smalltalk nonsense. So if I were writing to be popular I wouldn’t do as well. I’d worry when I wasn’t becoming popular. I’ve tried writing posts before, submitting them on hacker news, waiting, and being disappointed when they wouldn’t become popular. I stopped doing this, but now my posts are automatically posted on Twitter and Facebook. I then get feedback from them, plus comments on the bottom of the post. These are not harmless. They put a metric in how well I’m doing, with a re-tweet count or like count or comment count. The atmosphere encourages people to optimize for that which is easily seen and measurable, which is a problem because it’s not what I’m trying to optimize for! It’s like school constantly reminding me of my G.P.A. when I’m trying my hardest not to care about my G.P.A. so I could get on to more important things. At worst I accept someone else’s quite arbitrary measure of success, and at best I end up feeling a bit bad about myself because I did poorly on something that doesn’t matter to me anyway. First I’m trying my best to reject the standard definition of blog success. Second I’ve changed the Wordpress updates to only some of my Facebook friends. Ideally I would be able to have different friend groups see different sets of posts, but from what I understand nothing supports this (except maybe Google+, but few people I know use that anyway). There’s actually a Facebook setting to help with this, though it’s really mediocre and hard to use. [caption id=”attachment_270” align=”alignnone” width=”300”] Choosing Wordpress - Facebook Status Update Preferences[/caption] For some reason Twitter doesn’t do anything like this. But few people follow me there, so it’s not much of a deal right now anyway. There’s a lot more that I considered putting here, but I’ll just add it to later posts. And if you’re disappointed that this post feels short and incomplete, then I don’t care anyway, because I don’t care about popularity. :) At least for this blog.