Wednesday, May 3, 2017
On Not Going Viral
This is very weird. Not too long ago, you may remember, I put together a blog post featuring old postcards from my erstwhile collection. Almost immediately, I began getting spam e-mail from people trying to sell collectable postcards.
Then, a few days ago, I wrote about our burglar alarm going off -- and now I'm getting spam e-mail trying to sell me a burglar alarm!
I wouldn't think anything of it except that my e-mail address is nowhere on my blog or my Google profile -- at least not that I'm aware. So how do these people have my e-mail address?! Or am I simply experiencing attentional bias, noticing spam e-mails that seem to relate to blog posts, but that I've actually been getting all along and would otherwise have deleted without batting an eye?
Very weird. Like I said.
I consider myself fairly comfortable with online life, but sometimes the way information spreads is a bit mystifying to me. I don't think I would want my blog to go truly "viral," with millions of people reading my posts. (Not that there's any danger of that!) From my days as a newspaper reporter, I know a bit about how to "promote content" via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and I don't promote my own at all. I'd really rather not. I like my little corner of blogland with my 100 or so daily hits.
I know what I post is public, and anything can happen. But most of my Facebook friends probably have no idea I write a blog. It's not that I wouldn't want them to see it -- I don't mind -- but I'd feel weird trying to drag them here. Does that make sense?
Alas, I will never be wealthy and popular.
The New Yorker published an interesting article a few weeks ago about people who wander the country in vans, living on the road (a childhood fantasy of mine, in fact). The writer followed a couple who've become Instagram celebrities by posting about their "#vanlife." (An aside: I think that's the first time I've used a hashtag on this blog.) She chronicled the ways in which their social media presence has actually altered their "authentic" on-the-road experience, as they make decisions about what pictures to post and where to go to win the most attention from their audience, and from corporate sponsors who pay them to write about or depict their products as an aspect of "#vanlife."
It was a fascinating description of how something that begins as a quest for authenticity can gradually be consumed by commercialization.
Probably won't happen here. Advertisers and viral audiences don't care about 50-year-old men sitting in their bathrobes writing about their postcard collections! Which is fine with me.
(Photo: Outside the Holborn branch library, London.)