DISCLAIMER: This is an introspective piece. Any materials contained in this blog are not reflective of any person I know, have known or will know, blogger or otherwise. I love my blogger friends and they have brought nothing but sheer joy and love to my life. Any resemblance to a person/blogger is purely accidental, unintentional and fictitious. The picture of mine has absolutely nothing to do with this blog and is simply to comply with the visual appeal standards recommended in various blogging manuals, thereby luring readers to skim through the blog as a necessary component in facilitating traffic!
Having said that, here we go!
It has been a few months since I last blogged. Part of it was due to paucity of time related to pressures of work, part of it due to laziness (it is surprising how quickly the human body adapts to a lazy, lackadaisical attitude) and part of it was because of a general and sudden disdain towards blogging. You could call it the “burn-out” factor or maybe on a more philosophical, elevated level the questions that festered in my mind were “why,” “what is the point,” and “does anyone really care that I blog or not.”
I know, I know there is much to be said about the joys of blogging. For example, the sheer joy that encompasses a blogger; the “a-ha” finding yourself moment; the moment where the clouds drift and it becomes crystal clear that blogging is your calling, your destiny, your passion; the halo one gets from sharing, giving, receiving, tweeting and re-tweeting; the joys of experiencing ceaseless love thru #FF and the list goes on.
So, you must be asking right about now, isn’t that enough for you? What else do you need? You complainer, you!
I admit, for the most part blogging has been a very rewarding experience for me. I have made lovely friends, received a lot of love and shared a part of me.
The “burn-out” factor came with the numbers game. I confess it is probably a self-imposed pressure, but nevertheless “pressure.” With my delicate sensibilities, pressure is not conducive for my mental well-being (ha ha!) I work in the legal field and get enough pressure all day. Do I really need to or have to handle blogging pressure on top of that. So, cut me some slack and give me a break!
The numbers game can be broken down into so many sub-parts such as the number of comments you get on a blog that you have put so much time and effort into. I have consistently noticed a good quality blog gets much fewer comments than a picture of a person shot in the backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt. DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in wearing jeans and t-shirts or shooting pictures in the backyard! It is all about expression. (Gosh, it appears that this blog will be all about disclaimers!)
The point I am making is that the general viewer tends to veer towards the lighter blogs. It may or may not be visually stimulating and in all fairness what is visually stimulating for one maybe a turn-off for the other. It all depends upon the sensibilities of each individual, especially when it comes to subjective standards such as art and fashion.
Although, I will say that certain things, objects, fashions, styles, literature can be judged by universal standards of being visually attractive or not. There is not much left for interpretation. A Henri Matisse painting will be found beautiful by general and well-accepted standards of beauty! If you do not, well then you should not be on my blog.
There are a number of reasons, why “quality” “content-heavy” blogs, do not receive much traffic and it has nothing to do with the intelligence of the reader. One big factor is lack of time. Readers do not have the time or maybe the desire to read “content-heavy” blogs. Simply, scrolling through the pictures is much easier and quicker.
Another reason is that most readers comment on blogs to get reciprocal traffic back. There is much written in blog-dom about giving meaningful comments and to give meaningful comments one will have to READ the content-heavy blog which takes time and comprehension skills. Easier to make a spiffy comment such as “Love your hat” and move onto the next blog. This way you multiply your chances of receiving higher reciprocal traffic back. It is as simple as hitting the “like” button on Facebook. Quick and thoughtless!
Of course, when you do get comments, then you are compelled to reciprocate the comments whether you like it or not, as you are way deep into the numbers game and do not want to “lose your readers.” My point is if your readers like you, they should keep commenting whether you comment on their blog or not. I mean, does Anna Wintour comment on my blog and yet I religiously read the Vogue month after month!
And in this ceaseless vicious circle of “I’ll comment on yours, if you comment on mine,” how many people are really interested in you or your blog? Makes me wonder.
Then there is the pressure of blogging “at least 3 times a week” to increase traffic. In all honesty, unless you are making money out of the blog and are doing it on a full time basis or have a trust fund or a sugar daddy, it is impossible to do it with a regular job! There is simply no time.
Oh wait, wait there is more! The photos, the dreaded photos! I don’t know about you, but taking photos has lost its appeal for me after I started blogging. It seems like a chore. Buckled under the constant pressure of “putting new content” on the web it seems like dressing up is punishment. How many photos can one take of oneself in the same setting, with almost the same expression on the face. Don’t people get bored of me! And why would they want to see me, when they can sift through Style.com and see Lara Stone with her voluptuous lips and va-va-voom body wearing the most exquisite styles! DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong in taking pictures of oneself in the same setting, with the same expression. I am only expressing my opinion and it is not a reflection of anyone or any person I know, have known or will know!
Now, I will be very blunt, because isn’t blogging all about sharing, being honest and being true to oneself. I write quality blogs. I take my readers through journeys that are unique. I introduce them to new things, new ideas and new experiences. I admit I may sound arrogant and conceited but it is true! I am well-versed in the art of living life elegantly, whether it is related to fashion, style, food or culture. I know what is visually attractive and what is not! I have travelled the world and spent most of my conscious years dreaming, reading, buying, studying fashion, style and culture. I am intelligent, write well and bring uniqueness to my blog via the myriad of experiences I have had in my life.
The question now is should I have to or need to change my blog in order to interest the “general” reader, thereby generating more traffic for the blog? Am I forced to stand in my backyard with the same expression on my face, wearing jeans and a t-shirt so that I can appeal to the “average” reader? Do I need to shorten my blogs and write about a mundane subject that I have no interest in whatsoever so that I can get more eyeballs on my blog? Should I have to post three blogs a week such that I can get some traffic and then possibly an ad on my blog? Should I have to comment on blogs I don’t find visually or intellectually stimulating? My answer is NO. If blogging is all about being true to myself, then I will blog on my own terms, traffic or not!
DISCLAIMER: All the disclaimers noted above are applicable to the entirety of this blog.
Right about now some of you will stop reading my blog entry and switch to a more “visually attractive” glossy read as you see no photos. For those of you who stick around, you are brave, non-conforming and are venturing into the diaspora of actual words without visuals. I tip my hat off to you.
The power of the visual in modern society is undoubtedly compelling! We live in a visual world and are surrounded by visuals. We as readers, viewers and consumers are bombarded with visual information overload. Visuals are everywhere:
- On the net
- In magazines
- Advertisements (In fact, I am right now staring at a 6-feet photo of a cup of Raspberry Mocha at Peet’s Coffee, and no, I will not post a picture of it as it defeats the purpose of this blog!)
We live in a society where visual stimulation in media has become a necessary part of attracting and maintaining the interest of the viewer. It is understandable as visuals are easier to grasp and retain. They paint a picture which is retained in the cerebral matter far easier and longer than words. As the saying aptly (or not) goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
The concept of the “10 second rule” is all pervasive in marketing. If you cannot hold the interest of the viewer in the first 10 seconds of your presentation, you lose them. And what better or more powerful way can there be to hold the interest than putting up a glossy photo or video?
All this talk of visuals made me think, what if we lived in a world of no visuals? Okay, that may be a little draconian. How about we make a compromise and imagine a world with diminished visuals? Would we be less smart, less informed, less literary or less savvy? I don’t think so. After all, a mere 20 years back, when the World Wide Web had not taken off, the forms of information dissemination were
- Fashion designers advertised via a few photos in print magazines
- News was transmitted on television by news-readers using words only
- Journalists wrote narrative pieces for newspapers with no or few photos
- Books were written mostly without pictures
As a child I loved reading. I read umpteen books with little or no visuals. I recall reading several fairy tales written by the likes of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brother Grimm. My most favorite book was Hansel and Gretel, about a young brother and sister and the evil witch.
Now let’s conduct an experiment. Read the excerpt from the book, below. It is all text. Later we will infuse it with visuals.
“Suddenly the door opened, and a very, very old woman, who supported herself on crutches, came creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened that they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however, nodded her head, and said, “Oh, you dear children, who has brought you here? Do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to you.” She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little house. Then good food was set before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down in them, and thought they were in heaven.”
Now time for visuals!!
Picture a door with a raggedy old disabled lady standing at the doorway. The fright of Hansel and Gretel will probably be depicted by raised eyebrows and drops of sweat flying (nothing innovative.) The feigned concern of the old lady will be hard to show in a picture. Next will be photos of the scrumptious eats, and even if taken with a very high definition camera, the gastrointestinal delight of the moment will be lost. “Heaven” only knows how the inner thoughts of the children will be depicted.
My experience of reading the “text only” version of the story is that the impact is greater without the visuals. In fact, it made my experience richer as I got to imagine! Absence of visuals gave an extra layer of depth to the piece. It let the horses of my imagination run wild with no boxed parameters such as in a visual image.
I am definitely not undermining the power of visuals as it is very important in modern society; but don’t be scared of reading “text only” at times. It stimulates the vertex of our brains as it does not give everything to us on a platter as a visual does. It makes us work, and as you will agree, the more you work for something, the sweeter the reward!