Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?
— From the Three Billy Goat’s Gruff (a Norwegian folktale)
Do you watch your stats? I do. As much as I’d like to ‘write for myself’—something bloggers always suggest whenever I bring up the topic of blog stats—I spend too much time worrying about what others think. I look to likes as validation of my worth, or at least my writing’s worth. Page views equal popularity. So I click on that stupid stats button far too many times a day.
This isn’t as big a problem for me as it once was. Through repetition, I’ve discovered the inverse effect of a successful blog post. The more I like what I wrote, the less others will. I’ve become conditioned to accept disappointment—something that translates favorably to all areas of my life. But still, I watch those stats. Sometimes I see some funny stuff.
Over a twelve-hour period, someone viewed my About page fifteen times. And they viewed my two-year-old post The things I don’t understand about Fortnite thirteen times. Who is this?
When I first started blogging, whenever I saw odd, heavy reading statistics, I worried that the YWCA’s board president had stumbled into my blog (YWCA was my employer at the time). She might read a post about, say, alcoholism, and then email the link to the rest of the board. In this nightmare scenario, I’m the principal topic of the next Executive Committee meeting. Objectively, I recognize that 4,660,000,000 people regularly access the internet. Statistically, there’s a 0.0000002% chance that the person binge reading my blog is the board president. But I still worried.
This concern has mostly passed. After eight years of blogging and the publication of two books, anyone remotely interested in me has had ample opportunity to learn my most private thoughts and secrets. It’s all out there, one story after another. Binge away.
Regardless, I can’t erase that fear entirely. Recently, somebody ignored me. Snubbed is too strong a word, milder than that, but the inattention felt deliberate. Immediately, my thoughts went to blogging. Uh oh. Something I wrote must have raised their hackles. Much of what I write settles squarely into the progressive/liberal side of the spectrum. For a conservative, finding an angering or hurtful blog post might take all of two minutes. Then there’s the substance abuse, the mental illness, Tourette Syndrome (oh no, he’s going to start cussing). Plenty of reasons to steer clear.
Coworkers, supervisors, neighbors, family members, friends, the parents of all those kids I coach, so many opportunities for someone to make a judgement—favorable or not—about who I am. I know we all deal with potential judgement by just living our lives, but with bloggers, it’s more concrete. People aren’t sifting through rumors, here-say or even memories, in our case there’s a written record.
So who’s stalking my About page, and why? What’s the Fortnite connection? That post contains nothing controversial, and although it might be mildly funny, it’s hardly worth the attention it’s getting. At times like this, my brain goes haywire, concocting elaborate scenarios where a publisher contacts me wanting to offer me a writing gig, or (gasp) maybe even a book deal. In every case, I never find out the who or why, I’m just left with my fantasies, fears and a bunch of guesses.