I don’t know about other bloggers out there, but my stats go way down during the summer.
I could put the dearth of audience down to people being away on holidays, or simply spending more time out of doors, but in truth, I don’t really know why it happens. However, it does make me wonder about the wisdom of continuing to put out content at this time of year, when every weekend seems fuller and busier than the last, giving me the writing mojo of a sloth who’s just found out he’s allergic to conjunctions.
I could say my blogs are easy scrawls and take 10 minutes to write; I could say I don’t care how many people read them, but I’d be lying. To tell you the truth, there are many, many things that every blogger lies about, including but not limited to:
- Stats at peak levels
- Stats at trough levels
- Why we started blogging
- Why we still blog
- What we think we get from blogging
- The difference between what we think we get from blogging now in comparison to what we thought we’d get when we started
- Amount of time spent on farting around with our social media output every week
- Amount of time spent farting about with other people’s social media output every week
- Lip fillers
- What happened in Vegas
As you can see, that’s a lot of lying to get through – and that’s even before you start sorting out other people’s lies. It’s enough to wreck your head.
So why do we do it? What’s the fascination with this brave new online unreality of the past 10 years, which has changed our lives not to mention our moods beyond recognition?
I was reading a couple of newspaper articles this week which dovetailed very nicely with my online soul-searching. The first one was the shorter and more punchy of the two, housed in that most unpunchy of newspaper titles, the Financial Times.
The article “‘Love Island’ is more lucrative option than Oxbridge” talks of a new economic study, which showed that “appearing as a contestant on TV show Love Island for eight weeks is likely to net you more money over the course of your life than three years at Oxford or Cambridge university”.
Apparently, someone who appears on Love Island (a UK TV reality show) can expect to earn £1.1m from sponsorship and appearances afterwards, compared to lifetime average earnings of £815,000 directly related to doing your degree at Oxford or Cambridge. Is it any wonder that it’s the more attractive option of the two – whilst also managing to appear like a lot less work?
Ignoring the fact that it’s actually a hell of a lot harder to get onto Love Island as a contestant (85,000 applications in 2018, not to mention a perfect body requirement) than to get into Oxbridge (37,000 applications for thousands of places), in today’s world, it’s still no contest (sorry) as to which is the more attractive (oops) option for a young person.
The 2nd article was so wordy and noble, I barely got through it without deviating into either weird humming noises or extended daydreams about long coats and quite frankly exhausting romances. (The clue was that it was called “The Long Read”, but I’ve never been great at instructions). Still, it was worth it in the end, should you want to give it a go.
the rise of YouTube, Facebook and podcasts involves an obvious democratisation of the power to speak and write publicly. Nobody can really be silenced if they possess a smartphone and a social media account. But at the same time, the power to be listened to remains very unevenly distributed. There may be near-infinite bandwidth and data storage, but there remains a finite quantity of attention.
Isn’t it that finite quantity of attention that makes Love Island and ‘going viral’ so desirable?
With so many voices now shouting into the void, anyone who can convince others that people are listening to them can now commodify that attention, and turn it into cold hard cash.
Attention-seeking has officially become a legitimate job. Ask any kid now what they want to be when they grow up, and at some point at least 50% of them are going to say ‘a YouTuber’. Buying fake followers is as legitimate a business expense as a business card. Lying about your follower count or stats is the same as massaging the numbers in your accounts – and just like ‘window dressing’ your accounts, it only matters if you get caught.
Meanwhile, those of us who’ve been wary of putting personal stuff online end up scrolling through Instagram, wondering ‘why is the person I followed because of that hilarious poem about a bunch of stoner Shih Tzus now taking a selfie in their underwear?’
None of this is answering my existential crisis of the summer, as to why I’m blogging when I make no money from it and the legitimate cohort of people who read this blog are probably leading happier, more fulfilling lives offline for a few months: but I can tell you at least that I won’t be blogging next week at all, because I will be dancing in a field at a music festival. Possibly in the rain. But I do have festival wellies somewhere. Plus, welly-dancing in a field is something I think we can all agree can only be good for comedy at some later point in my life.
As for my original question – where do blog readers go in the summertime – I think the answer might be obvious.
They’re all watching Love Island, clicking on affiliate links on Instagram for the latest eyebrows, and ignoring wordy blogs and articles which whisper of winter, because they are for another day, full of clouds. And afternoon lighting. And newspaper articles about, well, news.
Excuse me now please: I have some abdominal crunches to do…