I have no idea who reads this blog. I don’t know how many people read it. I know there are analytics and metrics and they are easy to understand, but I just don’t care. I like having people read my writing, but I would still do this if no one read it but me (and my mom, who is contractually obligated to love everything I do). I don’t care how many people follow me on Twitter or Instagram. The threat to cancel subscriptions that would shake the boots of newspaper editorial staffs have lost their power in the age of free information (and free misinformation). I don’t get dollars for followers, so unfollowing, following back, all the status of social media is lost on me.
BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie – sorry, couldn’t help myself): I am always bemused by the fact that the men I date have one thing in common (and truly only one thing). None of them read (past or present tense) my blog.
It used to bother me – look at this perfectly simple way to internet-stalk/gather counter-intelligence/bask in my brilliance! Men complain they don’t know what women want or what they are thinking, and here I am putting it on this easy-to-read design template. Granted, there are no pictures, but there are at least a couple dick/poop/tampon jokes (that is the grossest collection of slashes ever). And really – if he likes me as much as he says he does, why wouldn’t he support my completely non-profitable venture?
Until a couple nights ago, when I was reminded of the observation that if, for example, you get a rash every time you eat shellfish, maybe it’s not just a bunch of bad shellfish. Maybe it’s you. If you have a lot of friends who take advantage of your time and energy, maybe it’s not that you’ve happened upon horrible friends but because you are attracting them to you. It was time to contemplate why this single similarity tied together the (number redacted because it’s none of your business) men I’ve dated.
My theory about readers developing crushes on my words was confirmed when I wrote a sports blog for cincinnati.com. All of a sudden, emails and Twitter DMs (google it, mom) were pouring in with phone numbers and requests for “just a chat about sports over beers.” If my ego wasn’t already so inflated, I would have been flattered. But I suspected that a crush on my words did not translate to a crush on me. There is a distinct voice to my writing but it’s not necessarily my voice – or at least it’s only a portion of it. This voice is cultivated and uses thesaurus.com regularly and is expressed with an indistinct audience of me (writers write what they want to read) and a nebulous population of at least semi-anonymous readers in mind. My words are an orderly collection of sentiments meant to entertain.
But me? I’m not orderly at all. I’m chaotic and messy and mercurial, not just by diagnosis but by temperament as well. It’s not just my moods that ebb and flow and rise and fall. My house is usually a mess; my playlist goes from Kanye West to Conway Twitty; I’m alternately sentimental and emotion-phobic. In the words of Walt Whitman,”Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes).” There is a dialectic of complicated simplicity to my nature that results in great frustration but, ironically, comfort, since all of those Jenga pieces still fit back together even after they splay over the game table.
I can’t be sure, but I’d like to think that the men I date like me, the person, and my writing doesn’t have the reckless quality of my human form. There’s something to like – something he has to like – about my agitated life that wouldn’t be sated by a few hundred words every few weeks or months. And even if he was a faithful follower, there would be a discomfiture between the woman he knows and the words he reads… an uncertainty that sometimes confuses even me.