However, what started as an I-don't-know-what-to-write-so-I'm-going-to-write-about-this post has sparked an awful lot of thoughtful dialogue and the conversation has drawn out all these threads of additional possibilities I hadn't considered. So! Yet another blog entry about blogging. I'd apologize to you all but...
This is likely fortunate for you as I had intended to summarize Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism tonight...through interpretative dance.
I'm kidding. I don't actually dance. Not in public anyway. Not even for the cat...very often. It scares him much like the vacuum does.
So my friend, Mr. Finger, a fellow (albeit very occasional) blogger and I were talking about the premise of my earlier post - obligation to our readers - and he asked me an interesting question...
Is blogging a monologue or is it a conversation?
Finger felt like the answer to the question I'd posed laid in the philosophy of each individual blogger about how they saw their space and how they treated comments.
Now, of course, I know it is not that simple. Based on the responses I've gotten in the last couple of days, I know many people feel no obligation whatsoever - comments or no - to say adieu to readers when life gets out-of-control weird and complicated as it's wont to do. Others hadn't given it any thought but, upon contemplation, decided they did think some kind of farewell (with or without an explanation) was a necessary courtesy. Still others were surprised to think someone might care if they disappeared (this makes me want to hug you all like Naked Jen would).
But! I do think Finger had his astute finger (heh...sorry, I didn't mean to) on the pulse of truth. Particularly with his follow up thought which was this (I'm paraphrasing but pretending it's a quote...artistic license), "If a blogger puts out content and enables comments, whether anyone comments or not, are they not inviting discourse? Are they not opening up their lane to oncoming traffic? If they do this, then it's a conversation and, unless you're impolite, you don't walk away from a conversation unfinished."
Heh. There is (at least) one blogger I know intimately who is, right at this moment, thinking, "HA! Wrong!" OK well...she'd be much more eloquent in her rebuttal because she is the essence of eloquence but she's not here and I am. I also know what she's thinking, not because she's a good friend but, because the Divatologist has already explained (and re-iterated) her thoughts and policy on comments.
1) The Divatologist is the exception to nearly every rule.
2) The Divatologist is awesome at boundary setting. Jane In Her Infinite Wisdom? Not so much sometimes.
3) While she's not much for goodbyes, I do suspect there'd be an epilogue of some sort simply because she'd consider it something of a gaffe not to - like forgetting to place appropriate punctuation at the end of a sentence. Maybe she'll comment and set me straight *laugh*.
Now, I'll admit, while I LOVE getting comments - even though they are typically few and far between - I'm often terrible about responding to them. The main reasons for this are because:
1) Many blogging platforms (like my own on blogger) make it nearly impossible to reply to a commenter directly. My comments get added in chronological order to all the other comments.
2) Unless you're particularly savvy about how to receive notification that a comment has been commented upon (and I am not savvy), I tend to think a commenter will never know I've had any kind of follow up interaction with them specifically.
3) I personally can't keep track of all the comments I've made on everyone else's blogs and make the assumption no one else can either. Therefore, I struggle with whether or not I ought to speak, knowing the other person has left the "room", and isn't likely to be back.
I realized today that replying to comments isn't so much about the reply itself...the original commenter probably won't be back to check to see if I've said anything. The reply is, in essence, for the next person who comes along and has something they're compelled to add to the conversation. It's a signal to the next commenter that I am, in fact, listening to what other people have to say, that I acknowledge it, and appreciate it.
Also? I kinda think it's the polite thing to do.
Bloggers tend to lament about our lack of comments even though analytics suggest we've got readers tuning in and then we yell and/or beg for people to just, please, comment!
What was my point again???
Oh. Yeah. So I don't always treat my commenters with the respect I ought to...not because I don't appreciate them but because I don't expect a dialogue between just the two of us. However, I do think of my blog as a conversation and not just me spouting my ramblings and blasphemy all over the walls of my cozy cubby on the internet (I have a glorious window though even if it is small) thinking no one else is reading or caring if they do. I do care. And I would, if I decided to (which seems unlikely), tell you all I was leaving and give you hugs - I'm a hugger - before I set off to sound my "barbaric yawps over the roofs of the world."
So...I'm asking you. How do you treat comments? Do you think of your blog as a conversation (even if no one comments) or a one-(wo)man show? If you view it as a conversation, do you or don't you feel obligated to appropriately punctuate the end/long-term break of your blog with a statement of "don't worry, I'm going away/taking a break/I'm [fill in the blank]"?
I believe Finger is on to something but, for now, it's a hypothesis. I'd like proof to formulate my theory - which would be a lot less dry than Weber's theory of economics...at least, I think.
Just so you know, while it'll not be interpretative dance, tomorrow I might draw illustrations for you. This should terrify you. Vinny, the cat, likes my drawings about as much as he likes my dancing.
Case in point:
|Me being attacked by spiders. I am, in reality, much fatter than this.|
I (am potentially getting ready to break said) promise I will not be blogging about blogging.