Thank You Mask Man by Lenny Bruce

A recent experience has made me re-evaluate why I maintain this blog.

The original reasons why I started this blog were to write about some of my more interesting life experiences and to rekindle my interest in photography.  For years my wife had been telling me that I should write down the stories that I’ve been regaling my friends with; and boring her with, to get them out of my system and perhaps produce a book.  The book could even be illustrated with my old photographs.

I knew when I started blogging that there wouldn’t be very many visitors so I just plugged away at my stories, howling away in the dark , as it were, hoping that I might build up some kind of readership.  For about the first six months I never received more than about 70 visitors a day but then all of a sudden I noticed a huge jump to about 1200 visitors a day and that’s when I started getting my first notifications from my ISP (I’m not on the WordPress server) that I was beginning to exceed my allocated bandwidth.  Something seemed to be wrong because I wasn’t getting any comments.  I was beginning to question what was going on here. 

Were the 1200 visitors a day, all lurkers?

My wife being the brainiac that she is, suggested that I start using Google analytics to analyse what the WordPress visitor stats actually meant. Thanks to Google analytics I found out that most of the traffic I was getting was from people looking for images and those execrable scraper sites.  I was getting about a thousand people a day just looking at two images; one of the punk, and one of bare breasted woman with tattoos. The picture of the punk is not a particularly good photograph but it does capture what a punk from the early 1980s looks like. Sure enough the posts about the punk and the tattoos used to get comments but they were more along the lines of, “punx not dead!! punx rule!!!” or “tatoos are great and you suck!!” All of this was not what I was hoping to achieve with this blog, but it did to help me crystallise in my mind what I was subconsciously hoping for.

Not only was I putting my efforts out on display, I guess I was also looking for approval, dialogue and a sense of community.

Yep I’ll admit it, I do like the odd pat on the back but I also appreciate a conversation that goes beyond motherhood statements, with like-minded people.  In an effort to dissuade people coming to my site merely to steal my images and my bandwidth by linking to them, I changed many of the image filenames to initials so they couldn’t be searched for by their name.  I also added the anti-leech plug-in to this blog so those shit bag scraper sites couldn’t lift my posts and use it as their own content or steal bandwidth by linking to them.  Another thing I did, was instruct my ISP to stop the search bots from looking at my images so they didn’t appear in internet image search engine results. 

These changes to my blog made my statistics drop right back down again and over the last couple of years I’ve seen them rise back up again to a point where I was quite often getting between 700 and 800 visits a day.  According to my WordPress statistics I’ve had over 300,000 visitors and I can tell you that my id and ego really liked these figures. My super ego had the crap beaten out of it by my id with a wine bottle and it is crouched in a corner, quivering, too scared to to make its presence known let alone offer an opinion. 

I still wasn’t getting very many comments but I put that down to the fact that I’m not particularly good at cultivating a community like Pat Coakley (who I learn from every day in so many ways) and I took heart from bloggers such as Shane Adams and Cafe Selavy who produce high-quality content but hardly ever get any comments. 

I told myself that Pat, who is a trained psychologist, basically has a fifth degree black belt in ego wrangling and therefore is very adept at putting people at ease, making them feel comfortable enough to make comments.  I, on the other hand, know that I can be a bit prickly and what I have to say is not to every one’s taste. I don’t avoid confrontation and as a matter of fact I think I have a self-destructive urge to seek it out, which of course can make some people feel wary. This of course doesn’t encourage people to leave comments. I just contented myself with the fact that I was getting quite a few visitors.

Last week my fragile little temple of delusion came crashing down.

they dont love me anymore

All of a sudden I was only getting about 40 or 50 visitors a day. 

I did some searching on the Internet and came across an article about how Google had changed their search algorithm because of all the black hat spammers out there.  I suspect that this new Google algorithm has affected how people come across my site. 

With this sudden crash of my visitor statistics I was hit with a crisis of confidence. Luckily my ego is like a shield of steel (4 years in art college will either toughen it up or crush it) and I have constructed a new delusion for myself, to help me cope, and it goes something like this; ” oh those old stats only reflected low quality visits from people searching for free images and now the new stats reflect the high quality visitors I was really trying to reach in the first place”.

Oh well, it works for me. 

One thing though, this crash in my stats has made me think about, is the nature of approval and my need for that approval.  One of my favourite bloggers, Robert Krzisnik wrote a great post about why we might all be doing what we do, when we blog.

Since I’ve been discussing the whole “pat on the back thing” I thought you might all enjoy this little animated sketch from that comic giant, Lenny Bruce.

[youtube 1tjWYEMQ70w]

13 thoughts on “Thank You Mask Man by Lenny Bruce”

  1. First, thanks for the props! I’ll return them. Yours was one of the first blogs I read and linked. I get a kick out of the self-revelations. It is nice to have company along the way.

    I’ve been through the same ride, though I’ve never had a thousand visitors a day. But when the number goes up, I think I have been “discovered” and am on my way. I wish I didn’t check my numbers at all. They don’t tell much of anything, really, and I find myself getting low when the numbers do.

    It is very, very silly.

    But the blog makes me write differently than I would if I were keeping a journal. I have to consider my audience, something I didn’t have to do before. In truth, they censor me, but it is not all bad. I’ve learned to say some very harsh things without being explicit and am happy about that.

    One day, I will collect all the pieces and go back and rewrite and edit and see what I’ve done. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep writing and try to do a better job of not looking at the numbers.

    But, of course, I’ll keep waiting to be “discovered.” Ho!

  2. Now, I know you are not looking for a pat on the back. BUT, indulge me. Ok! Group hug, anyone? Oh, gag. Except I mean it! I may not be a famous blogger or earning revenue from my images and text yet (as in YET!), but I am a better artist because of some of my readers–AND you, in particular, razzman. It may not have been one of the reasons you began to blog, but it has been a side effect. What value ‘dat, eh?? No stat blog for this but to me the real value of my blog has been the voices who took time and said, “I see you. I value how you do what you do. This is what I think you are doing, AND, I think if you did this or that, you might keep getting better.” And, of course, I had an opening for aussie voices that tell me to harden the f up..a shortage I wasn’t even aware of until I heard you say it!

    You know I have ideas about your next evolution but I think, like me, your restlessness and focus can get tangled up with any number of blinking lights around you. But, and I do mean BUT…black hat spammers may have spiked your numbers and disabused you of a larger readership but it has not masked your value, talent, and un-freakin-believable life experiences from your regular audience.

    You have the content for a wider readership and let us agree on one thing: stats are out as a focusing agent on value.

    Particularly, since my other blog, the town photo blog got ZERO visitors three days in a row!! Zero!! C’mon. Goose egg. There’s a billion people on line blogging every day and not one of them could visit and stay awhile? Idiots. Oh, that’s right…I don’t care about such things.

    Don’t tell planetross, but I’m tempted to use an emoticon!!!

    Ha!

    That Lenny Bruce video requires a whole other response. He is a genius.

  3. I can relate to this in my own way. As a musician with 4 CDs out, music is a creative process too. Most of us are simply here to satisfy our own needs. I think you’ve got talent at what you do. I enjoy your site. The game of numbers doesn’t reflect anything in my opinion. Now, if you had a degree in Marketing and spent as much time promoting your site as you do writing, I bet you’d have numbers and loyal fans breaking your chart records. As a musician in todays world, I fight with this all the time. Marketing is not what I set out to do, but it’s part and parcel with getting people to find me and listen to my music.

    Keep writing because you’re great at it!

  4. Cafe Selavy

    I’m glad to know that other people feel the same way. It’s all so confusing sometimes to know what to pay attention to.

    Pat

    There you go again, using your Jedi mind tricks to calm my fevered brow. Thanks, now can you write a prescription for something a little stronger? (insert emoticon here)

    Kelly

    Thanks for your thoughts. It’s just occured to me that there may be an advantage to blogging over live musical performance. When you blog, at least you don’t know when you’re playing to an empty room!

    Live performance….. scary.

  5. I didn’t watch the video until this morning. Lenny Bruce was a hero of mine when I was in high school. I had several of his albums. I haven’t thought about him much in years, but now I see how I developed my weird sense of humor.

    I’m blaming Lenny Bruce.

  6. Razz,

    I don’t get by here as much as I used to. Sorry about that. I’ll try to stop by and bring your stats up at least one notch per day.

    It’s always a pleasure . . .

  7. Cafe selavy

    Being Australian, I didn’t hear about Lenny Bruce until the movie about him came out. I kind of feel cheated that I didn’t hear about him earlier.

    Tysdaddy

    Thanks for dropping by again. Yes I too have been slack about visiting you and I don’t know why because I’ve always enjoyed what you have to say.

  8. “…My super ego had the crap beaten out of it by my id with a wine bottle and it is crouched in a corner, quivering, too scared to to make its presence known let alone offer an opinion…”

    You surely know how to express subtle psychological principles. Oh boy, oh boy, are you an ultimate original, my friend…

    I love your honesty here. I guess one would be able to write a book about psychological states we bloggers go through – at least I do and I guess many of others too.

    I am embarrassed to admit how emotionally I sometimes take the fact that a post I am really happy with, even proud of, does not get any comments at all, not much visitors, being truly neglected by this cyber world. My ego really screams then. Or when I learn that most of my friends don’t ever visit my blog, at all. At all! What kind of friends are they anyway? 😉

    But then again, I like to hide behind the very simple justification: “yeah, well the thing is that I don’t ever do any sort of marketing for my blog. At all. If I did that, well, of course, I would be having thousands of hits per hour, we all know that, but naaah, I am beyond this, I don’t need that…”

    yeah right…

    thanks for writing this and help me feel more comfortable with myself. 😉

  9. Robert

    Glad you liked the image of my super ego quivering in the corner. My id is such a selfish bully.

    As for the friends visiting the blog thing, I don’t push my friends to read my blog in the hope they won’t push me too much to get involved in what they’re into. For instance a good friend of mine is into motorcycle racing and you’d have to hold a gun at my head to get me to sit around watching that.

    Another thing about the opinions of friends is that because they are your friends their high regard tends to be a bit more unconditional and therefore less critical. It a bit like how everyone thinks their kids are so great and everyone else thinks that they are brats.

    Vanille

    I guess thinking about why we continue on with blogging helps crystallize in our own minds what we are hoping to achieve.

    In your case, from what I’ve seen at least, you seem to enjoy photography and food (a person after my heart). I think that the enjoyment of any act of creation is enhanced by sharing it. I don’t know about you, but in my case, a meal shared, is good a meal.

  10. I read this yesterday and have been thinking about it.

    I realized that statistics were a false gage of readership a while ago as well. I hate to say that most popular “posts” are the ones that have the images highlighted in google images: kitchen utensils, pasta, Beavis and Butthead, and smiley faces.

    I originally started blogging because Kelly Pettit and Willy Badger forced me to … or at least made it easy for me. (over at Blogger originally)
    It was just a time waster/entertainment outlet for stupid thoughts that ran through my head. I thought I was funny; and it was interesting to see if other people thought I was too.
    I started out one way and eventually expanded in other directions of stupidity. (I didn’t know I had puns, children’s stories, or other things inside of me)

    For me, if no one thought I was funny, I’d probably still blog and just walk around feeling misunderstood … maybe cop an attitude as well.

    But I’m happy with the possible 20 or 30 people who might read my blog semi-regularly. Do I edit myself for these 20 or 30 people? Probably a bit, but the stuff I like to write about is pretty non-feather ruffling stuff anyway.

    I do love comments though; I’m a slut.

  11. oh yeah! Pat Coakley I saw your comment. (smiley face)

    The Lenny Bruce video was funny … in an old fashion way … which I thought was weird that I thought that … while possibly thinking.

  12. Planetross

    I enjoy seeing that there are other people, besides me, out there with a cracked sense of humour.

    O.K., O.K! I’ll fess up. People like you make me feel normal.

    Lenny Bruce does make one think and I suppose that’s why the government hounded him.

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