Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Curse of the Counter

As a product of my times, I am one of those people who are on several social networking sites, like Facebook, Myspace, Imeem, Mixx, LinkedIn, and have my blog linked on sites like Technorati and Blogged. No doubt, that's only a fraction of the available sites compared to where and how others place themselves.

These sites are great when it comes to connecting with friends and reconnecting with others that you haven't talked to in a while, to stay current on what's going on in your little circle and the greater, wider world. Not even addressing the sites' addictive qualities, there is a side that is less productive - the side that turns the Web into a sort of popularity contest. For instance, I've seen people (people, mind you, not bands or organizations) that have several thousand friends on social networking sites. Really? Wow. You must be cool to have so many friends. The more friends means the more popular, the more awesome, the more worthy of attention, right? Right?

The land of blogging, to a degree, can be like that, too. Now, there are the sites that market products, concepts, whathaveyou, and rely on the number of people who visit the site to make it popular, to have a broader reach, to serve its purpose, maybe make a few bucks in the meantime. For the rest of us - sure, we're happy to have visitors to our site, but it's not critical. Maybe it is. I haven't decided. I mean, I think about the meager beginnings of Stuff White People Like. It became so popular that back in March, it was bought by Target as a promotional tool. As a white person myself, I found the site amusing (although having it go "corporate" lessened its street cred in my eyes), but not sure it was the smartest move for Target to narrow its demographic...and come to think of it, I'm not too sure how Target has rolled out its promotions via the blog. But I digress...

So, in the hopes of having a popular blog, too (and maybe being picked up by a corporate venture in the process), I originally had a counter on my blog to keep track of the number of visitors. I became obsessed with it, angry with it and the lack of people who were (or weren't) turning the numbers one by one. My site wasn't crowned prom queen; it wasn't even the AV-club queen. It was dreadful. I want people to visit my site and be engaged, but I don't want it to be a popularity contest. "I only had 2 visitors today." So, I have taken the first step in breaking the counter-curse by removing it.

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