When a new blog post is tugging at my mind and fingertips I am full of anticipation and trepidation. I follow countless blogs, I look forward to them, and Google Reader feels like many little presents waiting to be opened. What is on the minds of others? What have they discovered? What ideas excite them? I have always been impressed with the authors of these blogs but since becoming a “blogger” (using the term loosely) I am in complete awe. I am amazing at a skilled blogger’s ability to write for an audience that is mysterious in its scope, context and nature. It is an audience that you can never see face to face nor do they share a physical space with you. It is distant, unknown and unidentified. You may never know what drew your audience to you, keeps them with you or turns them away.
As a teacher in a classroom I have some sense that I know my audience. I spend all day, everyday with them. During the course of the year I move from simply knowing them to actually having a relationship with them and they provide endless feedback. They are continually offering up verbal and nonverbal messages that let me know if they are bored, engaged, curious, in disagreement, tired of my jokes… Are they with me? When I write a blog post I feel as if I am making a wildly insane assumption that someone somewhere is interested in what I think or have to say. It feels somewhat egocentric and narcissistic, even though when I read other blogs I never think about the author this way. The tipping point is that I have become the writer not just the reader. Suddenly I am exposing my thoughts to an audience that is obscure. I feel as if I am shouting off a mountain top to no one while at the same time speaking directly to a room filled with unlimited people. I started to wonder: How do I wrap my head around this? Do other bloggers wrestle with this? What is the secret to composing insightful posts with ease and grace? How do I move forward with this style of writing?
Thankful yet again for the EC&I 831 resources, I watched Michael Wesch’s video “The Machine is (Changing) Us” to gain some perspective. He thoughts around YouTube mirror my feelings about blogging. Wesch asks, “What version of me do I present ?” Media that by nature is reflective and confessional can fuel both anonymity and vulnerability. This validates my sense that when I don’t know who I am talking to and I don’t know the context it feels both freeing and restrictive. I suppose as with so many experiences in life it is all about how you spin it, how you perceive it. My learning in this moment centres on reframing the unfamiliar so that I am not daunted by the newness of it. So in reality what does this mean for me? I will embrace this unbelievable opportunity to write. I will try to let go of the need to fully define my audience. I will take the risk to share my thoughts and questions to hopefully gain connections, community and self-awareness. I am realizing learning isn’t for the faint of heart so if a little bit of discomfort can result in such a significant payoff then I am game.
Media do not just distance us they connect us in different ways that can sometimes feel different but sometimes that distance allows us to connect more deeply than ever before and new forms of community create new forms of self understanding. -Michael Wesch
I’d love to hear your thoughts on: What draws you to a blog and keeps you coming back? As a blogger how do you see your audience? How do you know you are connecting with your readers? What are the developmental stages of a blogger?