The Quids and Quos of Blogging

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Once upon a time in 2006, before I knew anything at all about blogging, I found an early version of this blog and fell in love. Here was a woman just like me — only taller, a much better photographer, possessed of half the number of children, and British. I wanted to be her friend. Craved her approval. Wished I could meet her.

I read through her entire archives, treating myself to a month’s worth at a time as a reward for chores well done, but didn’t dare comment for ages. She received well over 80 comments per post; she was famous! Surely there was no way she’d notice me.

One day, though, I gave in. I agonized over each word: was my comment pithy? Non-groveling? Grammatically pristine? I eventually hit “Submit” and got on with my life.

The next day, I received a gracious reply from her via email. I was over the moon. After that, I grew more daring in commenting. I also started my own blog and tried to be as much like Jane as I possibly could.

As I started blogging myself, I found I wanted to read more than one blog. I started cruising aggregator sites, and I eventually developed another blogcrush. Here was a woman just like me — only funnier, more pragmatic, possessed of an adopted child from China, and unapologetically herself.

As I read through her entire archives a few posts at a time, I learned something new. This blogger readily admitted to not enjoying reading books, especially fiction. Whaaaa? That she could write such outrageously honest things about herself and retain her avid readership was a revelation to me. I resolved to be more like her — I mean, more like myself.

That blogger moved on beyond the blogosphere (and from the internet in general) but our friendship progressed. We write actual letters to each other with pens and paper, if you can imagine that.

After “meeting” these two women, I blogged along, finding my voice and developing friendships along the way. I attended a couple of online blog carnivals and generally felt I’d discovered everything this strange new world had to offer.

One day, however, I had my bloggy socks knocked off again. Here was a woman just like me — only younger, with greener eyes, possessed of the most objectively beautiful children mankind has ever produced, and popular.

I couldn’t parcel out reading the archives this time; I binged on them the way I do a new Stephen King novel. This blogger had only been posting for roughly the same amount of time I had, but she had far more readers (and for good reason: her every post was pure genius).

And I’d gotten to the point in my bloggy career at which, when it came to comments, I craved not only quality, but also quantity. I resolved that this blogger must not only become my friend, she must also teach me all the secrets to her huge readership and become my Blog Guru. (Blogguru? Gublog? It sounds like something from H.P. Lovecraft…).

Anyway: Feedcrack. I coined the word when I was getting to know this latest blogger and many of her cool fans; I probably should have pulled a Pat Riley and trademarked the term back then. Comments, input, interactive readership: whatever you call it, if you blog, you want feedcrack.

Non-bloggers don’t understand this. How comments are the currency of Planet Blog, to paraphrase the another blogging friend. How once you have put yourself out there in the ether, it’s very difficult not to wonder (obsess over, fixate upon, check fifty times per day) what others think of what you have expressed.

One day I was instant messaging back and forth with my Guru on the subject of feedcrack and its “quid pro quo” nature. Quid pro quo: an equal exchange. You read me, and I read you. Like the Mosaic Law. An eye for an eye.

I admitted to my Guru that I read three or four blogs unrequitedly: I left daily comments, but got almost none in return. Granted, these were hugely popular sites; there’s probably no physical way their authors could reciprocate all the comments they were receiving.

“Ditch ‘em,” the Guru suggested.

“But they’re so articulate,” I whined. “They inspire me. They write the kind of posts I want to write.”

“If they don’t show their appreciation, unless you enjoy reading them just for the joy of their posts, you need to break up with them. Give your love where it will be valued. I promise: they won’t miss you, and I’m pretty sure you’ll end up not missing them, either.”

I obeyed. I always obeyed my Guru, even when she waxed eloquent on arcane topics like site meters and pingbacks. I nodded intelligently (though I knew she could not see me) and did my best to follow her counsel. And she ended up being right: I didn’t miss the blogs I abandoned.

I’ve wrestled with the need for feedcrack. At times I’ve done social media fasts and taken blogcations and have contemplated giving up the pastime altogether. I don’t like feeling dependent on anything other than my faith and my family.

But I can’t deny that my life has been dramatically enriched by my adventures in blogging. I’ve made treasured friends who live literally around the globe. I’ve formed valuable connections with peers and mentors in the world of writing. I have a rich resource of support that has borne me up through difficult times. I hope I have been an influence for good.

So here I am on Medium, with a new platform and a fresh set of rules for a new start. I’ve been posting for a few weeks on a variety of topics as I’ve tried to figure out my blog identity. Parent? Foodie? Novelist? Grammar Authority? Essayist? Faith Promoter? We’ll see what survives the streamlining process; in the meantime, it looks like I’m here for the duration.

What about you? Have you had any blogcrushes? Do you follow anyone unrequitedly, or are you strictly a “quid pro quo” blogger? How do you handle your need for feedcrack?

Tell me I’m not alone, people.

I’ve always been able to count on you for that.

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