I’ve known that blogging was a way of making friends for a long time. What I didn’t know was the mechanism by which it happened. Now I do, and Renard Moreau is the blogger who triggered my little epiphany.
Quite simply, Renard asked ‘Have you been following too many blogs?’ But the question goes deeper than mere follows, it asks how many blogs any one person can reasonably interact with instead of just following.
Now I know that I have only about 500 – 600? followers all up, including both my blog and FB-Twit, yet even with such a relatively small number, I struggle to visit a 10th of those people in a month!
A friend of mine [who shall remain nameless] works his butt off every day, answering emails, replying to comments and tweets, and generally interacting with the hundreds of people he follows. But what of the people with tens of thousands of followers? Surely it’s not possible to interact with all of them? Yet how do we choose who we do interact with?
The answer, I believe, is that we unconsciously filter out 99.99% of the people we meet – either face to face or online – on the basis of ‘interest’.
For example, I’m interested in a fairly eclectic range of things, so that diversity is reflected in my posts. They dangle in the www, offering a certain type of ‘bait’ to the metaphorical fish that pass by. Those that like a particular type of bait will come to nibble. Those that don’t will ignore it, and me. Thus we have our first visitors.
But what makes those visitors come again?
I used to think the process was all down to luck, but now I think we are all subconsciously looking for others like ourselves, so when we bump into someone who may be like ourselves we stick around to find out. How we find out goes something like this:
– I stumble on a post I like, and follow the blogger who wrote it. If I really like that post I’ll comment. This is first contact.
– If that blogger keeps publishing posts that grab my attention, I’ll start to look out for their name. This is acquaintance.
– If that blogger stops publishing posts that grab my attention, the thin connection between us will fade away.
– If that blogger interacts with me in some positive way the connection between us will strengthen.
– If we discover that we have other interests in common, we may become regulars on each others blogs. Whilst we’re there, we may meet yet more bloggers who are similar to ourselves.
– In time, we discover that we have a small community going on. At the heart of that community are the friends we visit all the time. These are the bloggers we help without a moment’s thought. These are the bloggers we miss when they stop coming. These are our friends.
Radiating out from this core are
– the friends of friends who may become good friends in the future,
– regulars who may become good friends,
– acquaintances who may become regulars,
– and ‘blow ins’ who stumble in by accident and leave by design.
And that explains the odd graphic at the top of this post. We bump into each other almost by chance but stick through shared interests.
Apologies if this process was already crystal clear to everyone else. It all seems so obvious now, yet I really didn’t put it all together until about an hour ago.