Don’t “Like” this Post without Reading It, Please

The other day I noted a new follower of my Twitter account. I’m not the most popular guy in T-world and so tend to scope out followers on those rare occasions when someone signs on. I was interested to find a little URL associated with my new friend and so thought I should see where it led me. Imagine my surprise to discover that at this very site I could get more followers overnight! And to think I thought I needed to write clever, or funny, or inspirational, or thought provoking Twitter tomes to coax folk to follow where I lead. It turns out all I need to do is fork out $20 (on sale!).

This rather reminds me of my otherwise wondrous experiences with blogging. Sometimes, I’ll post a blog, and within minutes will have some “likes.” “Cool,” I’ll think, “I should check out where my fans are from.” I then go to the handy-dandy tool for scouting out those scouting you out, and discover that no-one has visited my blog. They “liked” it from their blog reader, which means they (might have) read the first 50 words or so. I have since discovered that they don’t “like” my blog so much as they would “like” it if I “liked” theirs by returning the favour. All of this got me thinking (this doesn’t always end well).

Do I write for myself, for readers, or for the subject matter?

Maybe I can do all three. Probably I do. OK, I do. But it seems that one or the other takes priority. If my first priority in writing is myself (perhaps to boost my ego), then writing moves in one direction. If I write for readers (perhaps to boost sales), then writing moves in another direction. But if I write out of passion, or even vocation – because not writing seems to be a betrayal of deep longings or persistent proddings – then yet another realization emerges: the subject matter matters. It isn’t that the subject matter trumps writer or reader, but it makes a space for us to gather together. In other words, I want readers who don’t only like what I write, but read what I write because what I write about (writing in this specific post) is more important than my popularity or the reader’s enjoyment, inspiration, etc.

I suppose I have a certain luxury in not needing to make my buck with my luck at likes. Maybe I’m a romantic. Maybe that’s not so bad. At any rate, I am so happy for all who have made it this far in this rambling rant, and am quite content to find a small community of interested writers and readers to share in this journey that doesn’t end in with the full stop.

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26 thoughts on “Don’t “Like” this Post without Reading It, Please

  1. Jenny says:

    I liked it – AND, I read it! I think about my reasons for blogging, too, and have come to the conclusion that the reason doesn’t matter as much as the discipline and satisfaction I gain. I do love the by-product of others “like”ing it, too 🙂

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks for your comment Jenny. I too find the discipline of regular blogging to be helpful. But i do like visits, likes, and especially comments. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. I think we all do all three!
    A like without a read is no fun indeed.
    Jennifer

  3. Not only liked but will click follow as well.

  4. farminarian says:

    I do truly “like” your writing and find myself very stingy with both “likes” and “follows”. I am always gratified when someone “likes” something I have posted and like you I always go to their sites to see who these folks are. I’m often disappointed to find out they are really looking to sell something, to draw me to their place rather than spend time enjoying mine.
    My blog is written for me, but I write it with an audience bigger than myself in mind. I’m always gratified to receive real comments, either on the blog, or on the street, from folks who keep track of my life through the words I put there.The “like”s are nice too but I have often wondered about their general sincerity.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks for your kind words Ken. I enjoy reading your posts as well, and find this to be a great way to test ideas. As for the sales pitches, i too find them more than annoying. Twitter is the worst for that.

  5. Marie Taylor says:

    I “like’ what you said. I find a similar activity going on with the ‘follow’ button. I’ll follow you if you follow me. What should be an enjoyable dialogue becomes a quasi-commercial transaction – which is similar to Facebook where the number of friends you rack up seems to be a competition.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Hi Marie, yes I agree. I remember the first time I scoped out a follower of my Twitter account and found that they were trying to sell widgets of some sort. I wondered whether it was worth the while to continue. Fortunately, I have had enough positive experiences with social media to keep me going.

  6. diannegray says:

    I had a bit of a chuckle when I read this, Allen. When I say ‘chuckle’ it wasn’t at you – it was at the people who just run through the reader and ‘like’ everything they can to get followers. I wrote a similar post last year and one of the regular ‘likers only’ actually commented saying they DO read everything (they were quite defensive about it). When I checked my emails they had liked 6 of my posts within a minute (LOL) They must have been a speed reader! I don’t ever click on the link of a ‘liker’, but I always follow a ‘commenter’ – after all, you KNOW they’ve taken the time to read the post.

    Thanks so much for writing this. Very well said 😀

    • agjorgenson says:

      I remember that post. it was excellent. I remember seeing a Twitter account once where someone was following something like 5000 people and being followed by about the same. Basically, T-world becomes a tit for tat without any communication. Blogging seems to be less infected with this mania, but it is there all the same. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Denise Hisey says:

    Aaahhhh! This drives me c-r-a-z-y, too, Allen!
    While we all like “likes” on our posts, it really means the most when I know they’re from people who actually took the time to read, and maybe even comment.
    Just as Dianne Gray mentioned, there are certain bloggers who “like” several posts within a minute and you know there was absolutely no way they actually read them.
    Ugh.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Strange this mania. i suspect it has something to do with wanting to quantify popularity. So much better to have a manageable number of people who actually read and write together! Thanks for commenting.

  8. Matthew says:

    I enjoyed what you wrote about subject matter mattering. One of the ways, years ago, I got over the fear of public speaking was to keep asking myself the question: “is what you’re saying important”? If it wasn’t, I had to change it. If it was, and I remembered, then fear disappeared.

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for your comment Matthew. Yes, when we can locate the subject matter in the centre, our anxiety level decreases because we are no longer the centre of attention.

  10. jannatwrites says:

    I’ve noticed this, too. It’s nice to have “likes”, and nicer to have “comments”, but the best part is knowing someone actually read the post. I changed my WordPress settings so that I’m not notified by email of “likes” – only comments. I do have some ‘regular’ likers, and when I have time, I check out those blogs, but generally, I visit those blogs of commenters only. I subscribe to only a fraction of those because I can barely keep up with subscriptions as it is 🙂

    I don’t like the expectation that subscribing should always be reciprocated. I only want someone to subscribe to my blog if they enjoy my writing.

    P.S. I did read this post before I liked it. Just thought you should know!

  11. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for your comments Janna. Things become odd indeed when your first priority is to get as many followers as possible. I like a manageable number of interesting and interested conversation partners. As a side note, I get a new follower for my blog the other day that is selling fashion something or other. I won’t expect too many comments from him or her. Ugh.

  12. dianerivers says:

    I just get such joy out of reading your posts! You’re going along, talking so seriously and articulately about something, then you throw in a phrase like “make my buck with my luck at likes”. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want to read that one out loud just to hear how it sounds rolling off your tongue? I just want you to keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

  13. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Diane! I just couldn’t pass that up, and am so very glad it gave you a chuckle. Have a great day!

  14. Write your passion — as you do — and you’ll find you are writing for yourself and an audience, whether it’s known or still to be discovered. “Likes” can be so artificial yet true followers can engage us, and prompt us to be more thoughtful writers. Thanks for your thoughtful blog.

    • agjorgenson says:

      And thanks for taking the time to work through some of my material! Yes, I agree that what makes us passionate will make us relevant, but more importantly, sustain us when there seems to be little or no response.

  15. shoreacres says:

    As the old and utterly trite saying has it, “I feel your pain”. The phrase often used to describe the phenomenon of liking-without-reading is “like spam”. When I post a new entry, I’ll get a dozen or so “likes” in the first minute. On photo posts, that might be possible. With a written entry, not so much.

    And of course there’s the comment-that-isn’t-a-comment, such as “I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. Such clever work and coverage!” Give me a break.

    In both cases, the point of the exercise is either gaining backlinks or getting clicks that will add up to a few more pennies. I have no patience with either one.

    I’m a little quirky, of course, so take the following just as a description of what I do and not at all prescriptive. I moderate every new comment, so anything spammish gets rejected immediately. And I’ve disabled avatars on my site but enabled emails for likes. That means I know who’s liked a post without giving people who don’t give a flip about my content any exposure.

    Beyond that, I’m trying to keep my page “clutter free”. It’s more attractive and speeds up loading time. I’ve stopped reading two bloggers who loaded their page with so many links, awards, large-format files and such that I could make a cup of coffee while waiting for it to load!

    Fun post – and a public service, too, since it gave some of us a chance to vent!

    • agjorgenson says:

      Many thanks for your insights! “Like spam” seems a fitting moniker. Your descriptive comments might well become prescriptive as I navigate this curious virtual world where hits mean money to some and bother to others. I am so very glad this post gave you and other opportunity to vent and me to learn.

  16. perrymj says:

    I do not feel sufficiently skilled to try to write a blog. I do read a few select authors, yourself and Robert Reich to name two. I have never understood those who “like” without reading, but I know it happens too often, because I have read some blogs that have been liked by people I know, and I wonder why it appeared on my Facebook or Twitter or RSS account as something worth my time.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Hi MJ. Don\t sell yourself short! I think you could write a great blog. As to the likes, as I understand it, the presumption is that if someone likes your blog, you will visit theirs, and they get paid pennies for every visit.

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