I have just finished reading the section from Jeff Utecht’s book Reach on becoming part of a community. E-mail aside, I only have about a year of experience at community participation. I started my cooking/travel blog, Bergamot Orange exactly one year ago and I only joined Facebook last October. I have thought quite a bit, over this time, about participation. Some blogs I read are about the nothingest of topics and then have 25 comments that follow. Most, however, seem to post along fairly regularly, many creating some very thoughtful, well-written entries and get no comments most of the time and one or two faithfuls on occasion.
Facebook is another format where over time, you realize there are about 20 people out of 200 who carry the conversation. Maybe another 20 percent chime in to seasonally post photos of their families and then there is a big silent majority. I can feel them hovering around in the cyberlands, but they don’t post anything revealing about themselves and they don’t indicate their likes about a post from anyone else.
And that reticence to participate in others makes me double-think before I post on my blog two days in a row. I question if what I have to say is so important that I am putting it out there in the world even occasionally. Blogging frequently is just going to get irritating. That exact thought also prevents me from linking blog entries consistently to Facebook. I’m not sure my ice-thin group of Facebook friends wants to hear all this from me. They are going to think that I believe I have something to say, constantly, that they need to hear. People don’t really like that. I guess that in the case of blogging, I need a bigger circle. I need more strangers in my network who just share my common interest and don’t worry about the social promotion it may appear to carry.
Leaving a comment on a blog where I’m not known is a different self-doubt. Have you ever read a blog and been inspired to leave a comment, perhaps even written it up and then stopped and backed away, one letter at a time, until you disappeared again, entirely? I have and for me, it’s because I’m not sure that that particular blog community is open to new members. I’m worried about appearing creepy by just bursting into an already known forum. I guess the solution here is to just be brave and see what happens. I don’t mind when people I don’t yet know read and comment on my blog, in fact, I really like it. Other bloggers would surely be as happy as me to read a fresh voice in their dialogue.
So many things in life can easily take us right back to middle school and joining social networks is yet another. I actually love that I have been assigned to blog as much as I can and go forth and comment. Hopefully, I will create some new contacts and break through a little of my networking shyness.