Bad Citizen

Sometimes, I blog and don’t tell anyone.

I don’t post a note on Facebook. I don’t send a bulletin on MySpace. I don’t e-mail family or call a friend. I don’t promote myself with any electronic means.

Why? Because I want to believe that when a tree falls in the forest, it still makes a mess.

When we add our content to the Web, we can easily fall prey to dot-com-era thinking: If you build it, they will come.

Come on. Those dreamsonly come true in the movies.

But we’re human. We have a hopeful side that predicts an anxious throng of followers just waiting to soak up every word we post in our corner of the Internet. Chances are, however, we haven’t been discovered and are just writing nice notes to the local search engine or a relative. (Hi Mom!) It takes something special to get our readers to cross the delicate line of push vs. pull.
So, writing in secret is a good test. Will you read this? Perhaps you have returned here in search of something new (because previous experiences were so memorable, of course). Or, perhaps you have a nifty RSS reader or a Web browser that alerts you when something new has been posted. Either way, I’ll know I’m onto something if traffic spikes.
What’s your point?
Here’s a second thought. When I don’t promote myself online, I don’t fulfill my civic duty as a “good” Web citizen (feel the sarcasm). If you listen to our culture’s directive, you may hear something like this:
Go write drivel in a blog. Photograph junk for Flickr. Video nonsense for YouTube. You can do whatever you want, as long as you do it. Add to the noise, drive advertising revenue, inflate the importance of new media. Join the community and leave your mark. Everyone else is doing it, and they’re way ahead of you.
This directive plays on our need for community and connection. Why not save time by connecting electronically and skip the face-to-face? Besides the pressure, we try it out because it looks so cool.
You know what happens as well as I do. We post without a point.
The problem is that without a point, all these extensions of our lives mean nothing. They don’t replace human interaction, they don’t drive traffic, and they’re not as enjoyable.
If you gathered all your friends and droned on about today’s journey down the street to the grocery store on which you discovered a new crack in the sidewalk and showed them a poorly-lit photo of said crack taken with your cell phone, would you expect them to stay interested? Would you expect them to stay in the room?
Content is king. If we want people to enjoy our works (dare I say art?) online, then we should create content with a point, a handful of meaning, and a dash of personality.
So, if you’re reading this and you think I’m wrong or right, leave me a comment below. Doing so will prove my point about driving traffic with content rather than by self-marketing. Or, maybe you’ll disprove my point altogether, labeling this post as drivel. It’s your call. You even leave anonymous comments.
Go on. It’s your digital duty.
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8 Responses to Bad Citizen

  1. Anonymous says:

    Philo T. Farnsworth regretted his invention, television. Do you think regret plagues the inventor of the internet, Al Gore?Ben RowlandP.S. – Based on that comment, you may come to believe that I’m a Republican. Nope. I’m not a Democrat either. Please file me under the political category of “Disgusted.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    So you see, you are a marketer.

  3. matthewpedia says:

    Ben – you have been duly filed.Witz – I don’t appreciate that. No one wants that label.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Oh on the contrary, my guess is that people aspire for that label (like 73%). Lift your head and move forward and enjoy all the beautiful billboards life has to offer.Witz.

  5. rfox says:

    I think you just posted a blog about nothing that was in fact about nothing…well done!

  6. matthewpedia says:

    Hopefully there at least something that interested you. I’m not trying to reinvent Seinfeld.

  7. theInsomniac says:

    How can something 2-dimensional be so strangely fulfilling?

  8. meldenius says:

    This is very possibly the most perfect, pristine Net blog ever posted. It truly fulfills the dreams and aspirations of the medium. You deserve and award, if only such an award existed–oh wait, I think there are some spare Nobel Prizes sitting around, since we are on the Gore theme, too.

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