Have Some Whine

At lunch a couple days ago we were talking about blogs.

One of my colleagues asked, “Why does everybody want to have a blog? Nobody cares what they think!”

“To complain about stuff,” I said. “It’s hard to whine when no one’s listening.”

He replied, “That’s what the teacher’s lounge is for.”

The teachers lounge reverberates with whining. I contribute a fair amount myself. But I want to find a larger audience, reaching random people who stumble on my blog while looking for a picture of a pig sitting at a desk.

Even as I vent my frustrations and pet peeves, I know that most people don’t want to read 900 words about cellophane wrappers that are too tough to rip open, or people who leave their turn signals on when they have no intention of turning.

But people like to complain, even if other people don’t like to listen, and a blog is the perfect place for an uninterrupted rant. It’s amazing how a classy banner and sidebars with headings like “RSS” and can “Archives” can make your whining look like Relevant and Insightful Commentary.

The blogosphere is huge — it’s nearly impossible to pin down numbers, but estimates run to 150 million, not including micro-blogs (e.g. Twitter) or foreign blogs. It’s probable that many of these are no longer active, but new ones are started every day. Many people have more than one blog, and most companies now have blogs, so it’s possible that the number will one day surpass the population of our planet.

With so much reading material out there, a better question to ask is “Why do people read blogs?”

  1. Because their friend or relative keeps sending them a link with a note saying, “Read my blog today! It’s hilarious!”
  2. Because you read their blog and posted a comment.
  3. Because you happen to write a post on their pet obsession. I don’t write about politics, but people get obsessed about lots of other things: Ouija boards, chain letters, grammar. Lots of educators and writers have blogs, and find others who write about similar topics. Latin teachers, being a tiny group, often link to one another.
  4. Because they are looking for something specific: “What is the etymology of ‘fun’ and ‘funner?” Etymology sounds pretty dull, but you would be surprised how often people find my articles about word origins. Grammar blogs are popular, too. A lot of people still aren’t clear on when to put an apostrophe in ‘its.’ Reviews of writing software draw a lot of readers, too. Edaxicon got a lot of traffic when I wrote an article about Scrivener.
  5. Because (as I suggested above) they are looking for something else and your page pops up in the search. Pictures of specific things are popular. That pig has brought me a lot of traffic. I don’t know as anybody actually reads the article with the picture, but they might. A catchy title might get their eyes to move on down the page.

Why do I write Edaxicon?

I don’t have anything to sell, and often have nothing interesting to say. I could just keep all my thoughts to myself. Nor am I under any delusion that I am illuminating the world with my opinions.

But I’m a writer, and writing only for myself is a sloppy exercise. Writing for an audience — even one that’s just looking for a pig sitting at a desk — makes me think about how I’m expressing my thoughts. I am a better writer because I do more than journal every day; I write as if someone is going to read my words. This makes me think about how many semi-colons I’m using and whether I’m using the word ‘blog’ too much.

Edaxicon is more than an online diary; it’s a public forum where other people can respond to my ideas. This forces me to consider other points of view, to see myself from an outsider’s point of view. Sometimes I look back at things I’ve written and think, “I sound like a crank.” Overzealous ranting is not persuasive; a writer needs to recognize when the audience is backing away.

So I am doing my part to populate the blogosphere — I have three blogs, all under different names. I also have nine email accounts with different names, but not all of my personas like to write. They just do a lot of internet shopping. One of them likes to join forums, two belong to writing sites.

And how about you, gentle reader — why are you reading this? What brought you here? Will you be back, now that you’ve found that pig?

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