Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Farewell To A 'Follower'"

Consider this a momentary “pit stop” in the hurtling juggernaut that is this blog.

I don’t know how many people read this blog, and I don’t want to know. But every day, when I go through the procedure for publishing my latest post, I am confronted by this icon called “Followers.” I can’t avoid looking at it. It’s right there.

Looking at me.

The icon, maybe that’s the wrong word, maybe it’s an indicator, whatever it is, it’s presented in the form of a number of green silhouettes, each lined up behind and slightly to the left of the silhouette in front of it. No facial features. No individualization at all. Just a series of head and torso outlines. It’s kind of creepy, actually.

I’m still not exactly sure what “Followers” means. But once, after writing my post for the day, my curiosity overcame my reluctance to uncover anything that might damage my morale, and I clicked on it.

It took me to someone else’s blog. That was the extent of my curiosity. I didn’t read the “Follower’s” blog beyond the first sentence or two, because, one, I knew it would stay there, and I could read it any time I wanted, and two, to be totally honest, once I’m finished writing for the day, I’m pretty much worn out.

According to the indicator, I currently have three “Followers.”

Last week, I had four.

The math – in this case, subtraction – indicates that my blog recently experienced a drop-off in “Followers” to the tune of twenty-five per cent.

That’s big. Don’t you think?

I am reminded of the book I just read called, The Coldest Winter, about the Korean War. And I’m thinking, if there were four soldiers huddled in a foxhole, and one of them got picked off, that loss would represent a dangerous drop in manpower, and a worrying threat to the surviving foxhole personnel.

Four to three. True, it’s a drop of only one number. But you can’t help but notice.

There is no plan to this blog. Call it a pastiche. A little “Story of a Writer”, a little “Interview With a Giraffe”; yesterday, it was “The Evolution of Sociology.” That was cool. I mean, it’s no “Cross-over Porn Stars”, but why duplicate what other blogs do better?

There’s no overarching theme to this blog, no capsulizing, “This is what it’s about.” Other than, Just Thinking…, which I try to keep doing on a regular basis.

Describing my blog, to paraphrase the great philosopher, Popeye…

It is what it is, and that’s all what it is.

“Follower Number Four”, who once thought it was meaningful to be “Follower Number Four”, decided last week that it wasn’t.

Why? Who knows? Maybe they got bored. Maybe they got busy. Maybe they passed away, and a relative cancelled their membership, feeling it was too creepy for their loved one to continue being a “Follower” after they were dead.

There could be any number of reasons “Follower Number Four” stopped “Following.” I’m sad that they dropped out, but what can I do?

Please come back, “Follower Number Four.” I’ll be funnier. I’ll be more relevant to your life. I’ll…

Stop. Groveling!

Sorry. Momentary lapse.

I guess there’s nothing left to say. Except to recycle the words my Great-Uncle Benny said to me the last time I saw him before I moved away to California.

“Follower Number Four?” (wherever you are)

Here’s hoping you miss me.

Tomorrow, I go back to work.

Wait! I just looked. I'm back to four "Followers." Did they come back? Or is this a new one?

Who cares? I'm back to four!


OJ (not that one) said...

In (on? through?) Google Reader, you have 141 subscribers, and me.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I don't subscribe through Google Reader nor am I a Follower, but I still read your blog every day! I think there's way more than four of us, Earl.

Dimension Skipper said...

And I follow your blog daily through my customized iGoogle home page which I gather is a separate entity from Google Reader. I have no idea how to (or if I or you can) find out how many folks check out your blog via that particular route (unless it's somehow included in the Google Reader stats after all).

But you can definitely count me as a "follower" of your blog who does not plan on leaving anytime soon. I enjoy your style of gentle humor. Too many writers seem to feel they need to be "Edgy" or "in your face," constantly "pushing the envelope" (does that mean they're would-be postal workers?). That may even be who they are, but it's not for me.

My impression is that your humor is not a style or a method, just that it's "you." And thank you for that, by the way (you know, just for being you).

Anyway... So I'm a follower too. I simply don't do so via blogger's built in followers mechanism. I noted the recent addition/availability of that particular blogger tool myself. But frankly I don't care. There are just too many online ways of measuring popularity, promoting stuff, sharing stuff, statistically tracking stuff. It all just blurs into meaninglessness for me.

I have a blog myself, but I don't post that often. I don't post with any specific goals or agendas in mind. I'm not controversial. I'm not promoting a product or myself in any way. I don't care if I have followers. Call me a rebel. I probably have about two readers that I know of and I'm OK with that. I wouldn't worry about it at all if I were you because, well, even just being me I don't worry about it.


Trevor Finn said...

Plus those, like myself, that list your blog on their blog, and follow it that way.

There are at least 5 of us!

Diane Kristine Wild said...

I shudder to think how you must have agonized about ratings :)

Lee Goldberg said...

you have 44 followers on the "bloglines" blog reader (www.bloglines.com)...and I am one of them. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

You have two readers on livejournal syndication feeds!! Whoo-hoo! (I enjoy your posts very much. Please keep 'em coming.)

Anonymous said...

Another daily reader checking in ... not a 'follower' (does that mean I'm a 'leader'??) nor any flavor of a Google/Bloglines/Livejournal subscriber. I do have the link to your blog saved in my Favorites folder, so if you're tallying us readers please add another column to your tally sheet!

Love your blog, for pretty much the reasons Dimension Skipper already delineated. I even enjoy your little corner of the 'net enough to check in on weekends, hoping that you've unexpectedly decided to grace us with a post.

Please keep posting and doing that particular voodoo that you do so well, Earl. A heck of a lot more than four folks (although most of us are probably not green icons!) truly enjoy your prose!

(WV: "hisessi" - Pick-up line used by desperate snakes who frequent snake bars.)

Max Clarke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I read youpost every morning and am not on any of those places mentioned you are merely on my favorite list thanks for brighting my day

Anonymous said...

I have you on the side of my blog, in my Blog List. When you post, the latest entry title turns up under the name of your blog. It works great and I don't have to check in to see if you have posted. The list shows if you have.

By Ken Levine said...

I have a site meter on my blog and the percentage of blog "followers" in relation to my total readership is minuscule. One guy leaving is no big deal... unless he's a Nielson family.

TVBlogster said...

Not so much a follower, but a stalker. Not so much a stalker, but someone who gets tired of her own blog, especially as the holidays are next week, and she is burned out from writing about television. I have no idea who I'm writing for. It's like I'm writing for myself, or for an omnipresence or pretend audience that is reading why I am so disappointed in "The Office" this year. So, I read you because I enjoy your point of view, and I like to hear what a television writer has to say when he's not writing television. Ok, I'm a stalker.

karyrogers said...

I've been here since the beginning but have been "away" for a while relocating to NYC. I'm just now getting caught up on my blogs. I cut a bunch of 'em out cause there was no way I'd ever read them all, but yours is still on my list!

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pepe said...

I hope someone that reads these blogs understand what I am going through. I don't want the followers. I want and need readers which I am getting very nicely. But this follower business wont let you alone. How can I get them off my back? Readers, terrific, we are getting along just fine. Followers? Terrible.