It’s funny the things that I read that stick with me. I’m thinking of a post about 15 years ago from a high school friend on Facebook that said something like, “I notice that there are some people whose only activity here is posting and they don’t spend any time liking or commenting on other people’s stuff.”
My friend was a year older than me in high school and student body President. I remember him being a little bossy but also a pretty good leader.
I thought of that the other day because I’ve fallen into a pattern where I only post on Instagram occasionally. When I’m there, I’ll scroll through my feed and like and comment, but I don’t spend any significant time there.
It also reminded me of what I’ve heard from longtime bloggers. In recent podcast conversations with two amazing writers and active bloggers, E.A. Wickham (of the Bleuwater blog) and Mark Petruska (of the Mark My Words blog), they mentioned that they didn’t get much engagement until they started reading other bloggers.
Which begs the question of whether WordPress or any other social media platform is simply a platform of reciprocity. Whether it’s the algorithm, or simply the method of discovery, or both, the content from great writers who don’t interact just sits there.
As a case in point, I follow a longtime columnist from a newspaper in Texas. When I’ve commented on his posts which appear to be re-runs of his columns, he never indicates that he sees them. From the low level of activity from anyone on WP, it doesn’t appear that he gets much visibility at all.
All this makes me think of something my dad said about being a pastor. He delivered a sermon every Sunday, and for anyone that follows my Sunday Funnies humor on my blog, he had great jokes, and gently insightful sermons.
But he never thought that standing up in front of the church once a week was where the bulk of his job was meant to happen. He believed it was in the interaction with people – getting to know them, being there for them at critical junctures in their lives, understanding that we are all weird but lovable anyway, and showing by his actions how to get involved with and relate to others.
My dad once told me, “If people love you, they’ll forgive you for a bad sermon or a missed phone call.” The opposite of that sentiment seems to be, if they don’t love you, it isn’t that they won’t forgive – it’s that they probably won’t pay attention.
Because people are more influenced by people that they like and have a relationship with. Sure, maybe we’ll tune into a speech from a politician or someone else with influence. But even there, we pick and choose the ones we like, and their rhetoric probably has a limited ability to change what we believe.
So sure, we need to both post and also read other people’s stuff. I think reciprocity sounds a little cold and calculating for what is a process of getting to know each other. Like in high school, most of the relationships are developed in the hallways and between classes, not when we are facing forward doing our own thing.
I’ve posted a companion piece about different perspectives on my personal blog: Navigating the Gray Area. I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)