When I took Freshman Comp years ago, one of the first lessons was about “subject, purpose and audience.” I found this to be a workable formula for deciding what to write and how to write about it, covering the first two, but since coming on the web a few years ago this business of “audience” has been a continual challenge.
I am not geared personally toward the goals and motivations of social media, which look to me like a childish need for approval hybridized with an adolescent one of being obsessed with how others perceive oneself. Consequently, I have proven very poor at this business of gathering views, likes and shares, and don’t even know what all the hoops are that people jump through to get these absurd figures of “4.7k followers” and the like.
Here on Medium for my stuff, ten views is typical, fifty seems extraordinary, and the only things I ever write which get a hundred or more, are brief and tend toward the confrontational side. When I look over my stats pages, it isn’t hard to spot at all that if I really wanted a higher “score”, all I’d have to do is either piss people off in thirty words or less or else tell them what they want to hear and use pop-culture slogans in some “edgy” way to make them feel important for having heard it.
But those people who are NOT reading my stuff, are no longer anyone I consider “audience” in that Freshman-Comp formula. The ten people who do, are; or the one person who writes back thoughtfully and considerately, and whether agreeing or not says I have provoked them to think about something, they are my audience, and I write for and to them.
Why do I write? Because I can. I’m told now and then, often enough, that I do it well, and I certainly feel driven to it. Stacking up ludicrous and meaningless figures of strangers in their “k’s” has nothing to do with it. When I look at the actual quality of the workmanship done by those who do sport those numbers (just before blocking them, more often than not; scratch the surface a tad and all their writing is, is a sales pitch, for something, and I don’t care to be sold at), it isn’t hard to see that quality of writing has little to do with quantity of followership. I’ll stick with my ten, or my one, at a time. THEY are worth writing for.