If a writer publishes and no one reads it, did they make an impact?
Hi! My name is Mandi and I’m a writer.
I recently had the mixed blessing of my first viral post! I’m not linking it here. Go find it. Or better yet, find something better to read.
See, I’ve learned a few things since I ill-advisedly posted my rantings about a particular subject of public outcry. They are:
1) Anger sells, even more than sex.
2) The “like” button is a cheap and easy way for people to acknowledge that you’ve spoken while not addressing what you said. It’s the social media equivalent of saying, “uhuh” when your friend is telling you about their day.
3) When your best work is getting 2 hits a day and your worst is getting thousands, it really sucks.
Discovering blogging was one of the best things to ever happened to me as a writer. My first crappy post was probably read by 5 people. And that was amazing!
For a budding writer, the feedback of even one reader was a breathtaking experience. The idea that I had the audacity to publish my words in a public forum instead of just a journal was exhilarating. Someone actually reading it and saying so, even better. Which made writing a viral post so awesome!
This was before Facebook was a thing so sharing meant people actually checking for new posts and emailing the link to their friends. Every post was an adventure! People debated the posts at the site of the topic itself rather than on social media unrelated to the actual source of content.
Facebook is a blessing and a curse to bloggers like me. On the one hand I have 500+ “subscribers” I can boast. On the other, who cares? 10-20 people click the Like button and there may be some discussion but the greatest thrill of a writer’s life – new readers – is as hard as ever to achieve.
So I wrote the worst, most careless, least well thought out post I ever tossed off first thing in the morning in response to a story already well documented by other media sources. And so far in 72 hours it has over 55 thousand hits. Out of those I have 20 new followers.
This happened because my Facebook friends, in similar outrage, shared the hell out of it. The link to that post on my wall was shared 57 times by my friends and exponentially thenceforth by thousands of strangers. And now I feel a bit like Robert Plant does (I imagine) every time someone calls Stairway to Heaven the greatest song ever written.
Only way less cool and rich.
Because really, why that one? When I have informative or insightful or amusing or stupidly hilarious things you can read and share with your friends, and they with their friends, why is that the only post on my blog that ever got more than 70 hits?
So let’s be clear; I don’t care or benefit in any way if you “like” my post. I care if you read it and what you thought of it. If it isn’t good enough to share, don’t click Like. Instead, tell me why it wasn’t. Because the feedback of my friends is what will help me become a better writer, so that one day I can get eaten alive by critical strangers who don’t love me too much to hurt my feelings. This is my greatest dream.
Tell me it’s too long, boring, stupid, insipid, offensive, conceited or you just don’t like my face. This will make me much happier than a like. Or tell me it’s awesome and pass it on so I can break through the Red Rover line of my own friends into the greater world. And if it never gets farther than that I know I still have work to do. But I’ll never know if it goes no further than my wall.
We click the share button all the time on idiotic, misspelled memes that probably took a minute and a half to create. Why not make that click mean something to a person that you know and interact with who may have spent hours creating their piece? Critique if it’s not good, share if it is and remember that a person taking the time to write is probably passionate about writing and being read, because otherwise these would all be private journal entries.
This meme actually took me five minutes to create because I was waffling between Ermehgerd and Grumpy Cat.
I know I’m not the only online writer who has this problem. Share this so they know they’re not alone and so their friends will realise they could use the support. Share it for the embedded link to the awesome Cracked.com article above.
Or just share it for the stupid meme. But don’t like it unless you do.