Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Come out of the Closet! 

by Aaron B
I am intrigued by the phenomenon of the closeted blog-reader. You all know who you are. You read By Common Consent religiously (and maybe occasionally stoop to visit BCC-lite), you stay home with your computers on Saturday nights just in case something profound pops up on this site, but you never actually dare to make a comment yourself. Why is that? I mean, it’s not that difficult to chime in, folks. All you have to do is push the “comments” button, provide your name and email address (which can even be anonymous, don’t you know), and say hello! It’s not like your every utterance need be profound or thought-provoking (though that would be nice). I really do occasionally run into people who say they visit the Bloggernacle, but haven’t ever left a comment. And we all recall the occasional commenter who says: “I’ve been reading this blog for a long time, but I haven’t commented until today …”

What is going on here? Why are there so many passive readers who haven’t yet morphed into active participants? Some theories:

(1) The intellectual sophistication of those participating here is so impressive that most readers are intimidated into awestruck silence.

(This is quite flattering. I hope this is it. Alas, though some of Nate’s philosophical ramblings might qualify, I doubt that my latest screed would pass muster. (Although Steve E. tells me my recent observation on "Turner & Hooch" was quite brilliant, thank you very much)).

(2) People read BCC as a guilty pleasure, but most don’t dare participate in such an edgy forum for fear that the ecclesiastical repercussions might be severe. A corollary of this view -- BCC is really, really important, and those of us who participate here are unusually brave and stalwart souls, ready to defend truth and righteousness, no matter what the consequences!

(I really like this one. But it’s probably false.)

(3) We are collectively perceived as vicious enemies of orthodoxy, ready to pounce on any dissent that doesn’t conform with our enlightened "liberal" views. Hence, people are afraid we will make fun of them and make them cry.

(Not true, folks. We’re all about peace and love around here. Really. Besides, the only blogger I feel compelled to pick fights with is Lile).

(4) Our pretentiousness and self-importance is so mindboggling, that it’s all that most readers can do to just sit dumbfounded in front of their screens, fingers paralyzed.

(Impossible. This can’t be it.)

(5) Everyone who reads this blog does comment here! We’re flattering ourselves to think we even have any other readers! We don’t! Most of our blog traffic is simply a function of Steve E. not having enough to do at work and visiting the site like 40,000 times a day.

(I fear this may be it.)

In all seriousness, though, I wonder what it is that prods a reader into taking that first step towards full participation. How long does it take the average reader to make the leap? Why does it take as long as it does? Why don’t those of you who typically visit here in silence finally break the mold and say something? Tell us about yourselves! Now’s your chance.

Aaron B

P.S. Yes, this means you Peter Dittmer. :)

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