Audience & Comments

I have to begin this post with the unabashed statement that I am a blatant narcissist. And to that end, I don’t usually like writing blogs online because I’m convinced that the effort is only so much more noise in a vast sea of cacophonous drivel. The feeling runs parallel to the very idea of a Facebook page or a Twitter account… the idea that anybody really cares about what I’m currently having for dinner, how pissed off I am about Futurama being cancelled, or how awesome I think a hand-carved Stormtrooper coffee mug is.

The confession to narcissism might seem to counteract this. After all, aren’t Facebook and Twitter the ideal answer to every narcissist’s most fervent prayers? The ultimate digital tools to draw attention to the self?

True… so perhaps I’ll modify the term: I’m a realistic/pessimistic narcissist (the “slashed” term giving a nod to those who would argue it only natural for the two words to be conflated). Sure, I want everyone to be interested in my life and what I have to say. But I believe on some deeper level that nobody really much cares, because it doesn’t really much matter.

I wonder sometimes if others fool themselves as I do… thinking that perhaps some random internet surfer will ride a digital wave into my part of town and be snagged by the elegance of my prose, miraculously “discovering” my site. But really, how often have I just surfed around reading the random blog and finding something worth connecting with?

And at the end of the day, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, how many of us maintain a steady stream of mental production worth supporting a blog? At the end of the day, perhaps the dread centers not around how many people look at my blog postings, but the cold hard fact that I really do have nothing worthwhile to say.

All of this is counteracted by the comment. The glorious, miraculous comment that for a brief moment shatters the conceptualization of the blog as just more ignored noise in a vast sea of ignored noise. Suddenly, a user steps from the shadows, not only declaring their existence but simultaneously confirming that they have read my blog and, dare I believe it, have been stimulated enough to respond to it. Oh happiest of days! Such glorious payoff!

If you dear reader are not quite sure as to how much sarcasm that last paragraph contained, that makes two of us. On the one hand, the presence of comments does give me a kind of leap inside as a confirmation of my own self-affirmation. On the other hand, how much self-worth am I really locating in that faceless, nameless crowd of potential commentators, or worse yet, tick-marks that make up the pitiful number of page-views my plugin counts for me, as if assigning a number to the lack of readers would somehow make the fact easier to bear?

Is blogging a way to escape or nourish my narcissistic impulses? Does it and the so-called (and the actual) readers confirm the validity or necessity of the activity, or are they just the elements of a support system that continually decenters my self-worth and displaces it into the abstract concept of my supposed readers? And if not that, is it an exercise in futility? A tree falling in a forest with nobody around to hear it? If nobody hears me, am I really blogging at all?