Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Can't Reach Utility Belt...

With a few rare exceptions, if the readers of my blog and twitter tweets had the personality of Batman when he was played by Adam West, they might very well say, "Can't reach utility belt... '+1' button out of reach... must find pictures of cute kittens instead".

Yes, I'm being conceited and arrogant with my satirical opening line. No disrespect intended to kittens or people who like photos of kittens. I like kittens for that matter. Rather, it's a recognizable means of calling out how some things are popular simply by their nature while some "unloved toys" which people work hard on are stuck on an island wondering why Santa never delivers them to deserving homes. Rather than insult kitten lovers, my hope is that my grousing will motivate a few people to think about the bigger picture of what it is I'm saying in regards to interacting with people who share their creativity with the community. I understand many of us will struggle and likely fail numerous times as we try to build a community around us so it's not like I'm expecting something for nothing.

With the seeds of my intent (malcontent?) established, I'm going to add a positive spin to the post by offering a big huzzah to the one entity that interacts frequently. To the anonymous “up-voter” who gives the Google +1's to my posts, be ye robot or human, allow me to express my appreciation. Thank you!

I asked myself, does the anonymous up-voter agree with what I write or do they enjoy viewing the world through the picassoesque lens (point of view) I try to make my blog posts provide? Or maybe they have a totally different reason. I may never know. But the result of their action does more than simply pump up my ego. Deep down beneath my narcissistic desire to garner global attention, it provides confirmation someone has found something of value in what I have written.

On the most part, excluding the rare occurrence of comment, the anonymous voter provides the only visible form of feedback. The lack of interaction is something I find troubling. Writing a post is no a small investment on my part. Some posts may take ten or fifteen minutes while others have taken as much as four hours to finalize. Let me tell ya, a +1 is appreciated after four hours of work. But for all the effort, I can't help but notice most people read posts, yet remain seemingly silent. A response is not necessary but is a +1 button so hard to click assuming you obtained something of value? Then again, maybe most readers disagree with what I say or gain nothing of value. In that case, the lack of interaction is at least understandable considering the fleeting nature of our attention spans with online content.

Okay, so if you like something, acknowledging it through a +1 or a like is conceivable, but what about when you disagree or don't like what the post says? From my perspective, even if we disagree with what a person is saying, there is still valuable information to be extracted. Even if we disagree with a post or tweet, if the author made us think, potentially valuable information can sometimes be mined from the statements. As an example, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other people who I believe rely on stoking up public emotions (notably anger) will serve nicely because of they tend to kick my irrational response urges into overdrive. While I disagree with much of what they say, it does not diminish the potential of their arguments to awaken valuable insights within me. Which is why I do not ignore what they write. Being an emotional sponge, I exercise care so as not to become consumed by the anger they project. But if I find something of value, I'll press the Google +1 regardless of whether or not it draws more attention to their given point. Why? Because they made me think—even if their argument(s) made me furious—by motivating me to search deeper into the given subject to become a more informed reader.

When I find blog content I like, I share links on places like StumbleUpon, I hit the old +1 button rather frequently and I even comment on blogs I've recently discovered yet I see so little of it happen for my content. You can call it sour grapes if you like but I think most people blog to share something with others. At least in my case, I blog to share information in the hopes of establishing a network of communicative friends who in turn, share information with me. People could accuse me of the same saying I don't always comment much on some of the social networks, but I'm not silent either. In the grand scheme of things, I still try to give with the belief it is what will return. I share links and +1 them with the hope of sharing the information with others and hope to experience something similar eventually. Perhaps it's pie in the sky thinking but I'm prone to such things which is part of the reason I like writing fiction.

Mind you, I'm not trying to dictate what people should do. Rather, I'd prefer to positively influence others to participate in an active manner. I believe taking action to acknowledge an author's effort is a something we can offer in return for the effort they have expended. Take an active role, hit that +1 button or click a like button because it's like voting, being involved matters. Maybe it's time for me to peruse a few blogs like those from Glenn Beck and The Daily Show to see if the +1 button is calling my name.

Note: the '+1' activity I mentioned is the result of my posting a reference on my Google+ account or my Twitter account.