(I posted this comment over here at BlogHer in response to a post about being jealous of Big Famous Bloggers and it got long so I figured I might as well just store it here for posterity, also, probably most of you don’t read the BlogHer site.)
I had a bit of a reckoning when I attended BlogHer ’09, when I came to terms with how delicate and difficult the interaction part of blogging is. It is simply a fact that if you are a blogger who gets 50 or 60 comments that a) you are probably (probably, not guaranteed) saying something interesting and b) that means you are probably a pretty busy person and thoughtful, which takes up a lot of time and thus c) you probably don’t have time to interact with all of those people.
So while a blogger may be the nicest, most generous person in the world, they cannot reciprocate every kindness that is afforded them. That was why while I was at BlogHer I said that the definition of fame is basically when there are more people trying to interact with you than you can feasibly interact with. It doesn’t take a very large scale to get there, hence microfame.
That said, it’s interesting how the world of bloggers, which I always thought about as The Great Equalizer, handles this. Sometimes it seems to arrange itself into a social hierarchy, and that’s particularly painful when you find yourself – because the nature of the beast is so personal – caring personally for someone who doesn’t, or can’t, care about you. Sometimes it gets distributed, and there is a web of interaction where everyone is feeling on the same level.
It’s unfair, but I’ve sort of decided (because I don’t have the kind of following I can’t keep up with) that if someone can’t meaningfully interact with me (mutual commenting & blog visits) and my interest is only going one way, I don’t really want to invest in that relationship*. If you come to my blog, I will almost certainly come to yours. I don’t exactly expect or demand someone does the same for me, but if they don’t, I am less likely to follow their stuff.
*Unless they write about topics I am REALLY into, things that are right in my niche, then yes, I will enjoy the writing and the information as a one way street. But if it is just because a blogger seems like they would be a good friend or cool person, I can’t keep that up if they don’t treat me the same way.
And to be clear, that’s not saying “they are a jerk and I don’t want to talk to them” just that in friendships, in interpersonal relationships, which is what I want out of these bloggy interactions, the quality for me comes from mutual participation. I don’t take it personally; it’s just what it is. We all have limited time an have to be really wise about how we spend it whether we’re Dooce or just Kim over here at ProsaicParadise which is clearly too long to be a one-word name-drop blog anyways.
There is nothing wrong with aspiring to have a large readership. And there can be many reasons for that. And if that’s your aspiration, you have a tough road, and there’s probably going to be some jealousy. It’s hard to deal with. I definitely felt it at the convention – I wanted to know people, and not feel like an outsider. I had to really think about it after I got home, what it meant that I didn’t feel like a part of a great non-hierarchical co-op. (The only times I have felt this at large gatherings of people is at the absolutely most crunchiest of socialist, anarchist, activist gatherings.) (Note to self: maybe prioritize attendance at those kinds of gatherings in the future.)
What I came to is that there’s other options, like finding that person who really gets you and you really get them and it really works. It may take all year to find that one person. I am lucky enough to have some real life friends who read my blog and have come across one or two folks who I can blog-flirt with. Those people are my blog celebs. They deserve a little chunk of my love too.
If by some fluke I ever became famous, i.e. started to get more attention and interaction than I had time and energy to handle, I guess I might consider changing my policy? But since I think that the likeliness of that happening is nil, I won’t have to worry about having a double standard.