The Existential Importance of Blog Stats: A Response to a Response

Zoie at TouchstoneZ blogged about me (or rather, about my blog) the other day. I was, as always, tickled. She always delights me with her eloquent optimism about online connections and about blogging in particular.

A core point of her post:

But your words don’t go into a vacuum. And it’s not the “if a post falls in the forest and no one is there to read it, does it make a sound?” issue. Every single one of us tiny bloggers matter. Your voice is unique.

Blogging embodies what we each hold within ourselves at every moment: we are both a miracle and mundane. We are a speck of nothing in the universe, but without our speck something that never was before and never will be again would never exist.

We matter. Both for our nothingness and for our immense importance.

At the risk of always being Eeyore to her Tigger (it’s possible she’s more Kanga and I’m more Owl, but that doesn’t work with the comparison I’m trying to make), I’m not sure about the idea of each of us having our own unique voice. I suppose from a voice-printing standpoint this is technically true, but that’s physiology. But how unique are the things I say, really? And even if my voice is unique, does that make it worthy of putting in print for a potentially world-wide audience? Does that make it worth reading?

And of course, there’s the doubt that sends me to my stats page. Because stats and comments are the only way I can tell if what I’m saying is connecting. I’ve been journaling for years. I still journal. I don’t blog the same things I journal, but there’s certainly overlap there. I journal quotes that I find particularly insightful from the books I read. I journal funny things my kids say during the day. I journal my half-formed thoughts, circling and circling what I hope is a center of meaning and clarity. I journal my thoughts and feelings about making both large and small decisions. And I journal about the things I tell no one but my husband.

I journal as a way of thinking on paper. I blog as a way of sharing my thoughts and, perhaps, connecting with others. It’s so rare that I get to have the kinds of deep conversations I crave in real life, either because I haven’t developed the intimacy necessary to go that route with the people I know or because I almost always interact with other adults when my children are around and, lovely as children are, their presence is rarely conducive to deep conversation. I guess blogging is my way of doing this.

But it’s a fairly flawed way of connecting. I have a sense that some of the people who comment (on my blog and on others) are doing it only as a) a way to drive traffic to their own blog, or b) as part of a personal challenge to comment on everything because it’s the nice thing to do. Replying to these types of comments can feel like the equivalent of someone saying, “How are you?” and me saying, “Oh, I’m so glad you asked, because I’ve been wanting to talk to someone and bounce ideas back and forth about…” only to realize halfway through that they just said, “How are you?” as a greeting and didn’t want an actual response. It’s like in On the Shores of Silver Lake when the Ingalls move into town and Laura says something about how before, isolated by weather and geography, she was alone and happy, but in town she’s lonely because she’s surrounded by people she doesn’t know.

Even with the small amount of discussion that takes place among the comments under each of my posts (well, some of my posts), blogging remains mostly one-sided, my ego expressing itself on-screen. It’s possible that’s the main reason I blog anyway. And a secondary reason I journal. It’s my way of asserting myself, one tiny speck in an infinite universe, one dependent arising of a billion billion dependent arisings. It’s my way of saying, “I exist! I am I! My individual self as I perceive it exists inherently, despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary!” It’s my way of fighting that 3am, sitting upright in bed, heart-pounding realization that “I” will one day cease to exist.

I think that’s why “low” page views hit me so hard. I’m blogging to declare my existence. If no one reads, do I even exist?

And yes, that’s melodramatic, but so’s basing my self-worth on stats at all.

Maybe eventually I will learn accept reality and to act as part of the collective whole of all existence rather than as a whole and separate ego.

But can one do that and still blog?