Well over a month ago, this blog was featured on Freshly Pressed. That was an unexpected honor, and has led to many new followers. I am still trying to work my way through the emails I’ve received about those followers so I can, as the folks at WordPress suggest: “go see what they’re up to!” I apologize to those whose blogs I have yet to visit, but I also promise that I will get there.
There are many reasons to visit these blogs, not the least of which is common courtesy, followed closely by common curiosity. The review has been time consuming because I am trying to read the “About” page, the posts that they wrote at the time they began following me, as well as something recent. The vast majority of my new followers are legitimate writers who are sharing things that inspire them. You can find some of them listed in the sidebar, but I want to try to explain why I follow them.
Most importantly, I want to include other points of view in order to, as Lubor Placek said: “…avoid the social groupthink.” Lubor is a like-minded individual, so following him may not count but his advice was spot on. If we only read and listen to people who agree with us, we become more and more invested in those beliefs, and more narrowly defined. I started this blog because I was growing tired of trying to shoehorn a little bit of my story into two blogs that I write about Content Management and Microsoft SharePoint. I wanted a place where I could be me. Similarly, I have learned that I can’t grow as a person just by reading about technology and SharePoint. I enjoy hearing other peoples’ stories and I’ve discovered a few things.
I like poetry. When I was in college, I was forced to take two extra English courses, and the only class I could work into my schedule was Poetry. I started out with a goal of just getting through with a “C”, but I enjoyed the classes very much. WordPress is home to many poets, and some are quite good. Poetry is an art form unlike writing. Poetry is visual, it’s musical, and it’s precise. I try to find the right words when I write, but I can get by with any sentence that sends my message. Poets work hard choosing every single word, and when they succeed, the final product is a pleasure to read.
I am following a couple of bloggers who are writing about life in places I only see in the news. I follow a woman in Syria who shares truly scary stories along with passionate complaints about what is happening in and to her country. I followed her originally because we are connected by Syria, my paternal grandparents emigrated from their around 1900, but I continue to follow her because she provides information I cannot find anywhere else. I look forward to her next post, partly from an eagerness to know more and partly to know that she is still alive.
I follow people who are writing from places that I have lived. There is a special pleasure in reading a description of a place I have been to, or hearing a phrase that I won’t hear in New England. I also follow people from places that I will never live and may never visit, because I still value knowing something about those places. I follow a weather and photography blog of a friend in England because it makes me feel closer to him and his family. I follow people who are my age and older, and whose life story has been influenced by their experience growing up in a time I understand well, but perhaps not well enough. I also follow people who are much younger than me and I chuckle when some of them use the phrase “when I was a kid.” I follow a photography blog about Canada, and I marvel at how big our neighbor to the north is, and how little I know about it. I drove the width of Canada when I moved from Seattle to Connecticut, but that boiled down to six nights in six cities and the view from the road.
At a point where we have to guard our connections, because we have to guard our time, it is difficult to choose who to follow and who to just visit periodically. As Lubor suggested, I am going to try to confuse the filtering algorithms that generate the “do you know,” “you may like” and “your friends like…” links that social media sites provide. Just as the subjects on this blog are inspired by the eclectic mix of interests in my life, I am going to try and include a somewhat more random element in my consumption of other peoples’ stories.
Thank you for reading/following my blog – I look forward to reading your story.