three persons sitting on the stairs talking with each other

Do You Like My Writing Or Are We Just Friends?

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)

81 thoughts on “Do You Like My Writing Or Are We Just Friends?

  1. As a music teacher, I can relate to the sentiment about how important it is to develop positive relationships with my students – and to make sure that they can develop those same positive relationships with each other.

    And I very much agree about engaging with other bloggers – and, gosh, my own friends on Facebook/Instagram. I try to devote a portion of my morning and evening to doing just that.

    Thanks for the great post ☺️

    1. I love your comment about how you help create that atmosphere for students – what an effective tool in the learning environment that must be! Thanks for the great comment!

    2. As a fellow teacher, I heartily agree with you that it’s so important to develop those positive relationships with students and to foster those relationships with their peers 🙂

      1. I’m also in agreement – relationships in the classroom are so important to build trust and confidence

  2. I think this is absolutely true. I had extremely low engagement for several years, but as soon as I started commenting on other blogs, I started to see comments on my own posts. Reciprocity does sound a bit cold – maybe it’s more like Gottman’s emotional bids, where we’re reaching out and trying to build trust and make connections.

    1. Erin, oddly enough I had a former blogger connect with me the other day on Threads and ask if I did *reciprocity*. That is how she phrased it. I said yes, meaning share the comment love, and she seemed nonplussed that such things went on now. Like it was beneath her. Her attitude took me by surprise.

  3. I’ve been reading for a long time… I guess it’s lonely not knowing who’s reading quietly in the ether, but here I am!
    You’ve influenced more than one of my songs… sometimes other folks thoughts help shape mine up 🙂 Keep scribbling!

  4. Thanks for the shout out, Wynne. I appreciate it! I wrote a draft yesterday that follow this theme. Maybe I’ll post it Friday. I do feel that bloggers I enjoy reading and interacting with have become friends. It’s more than reciprocity.

      1. Great point, Ally! And the ones who do a lot for the community overall (and I’m pointing at you here), are so apparent too!

    1. Oh, I love it when there’s some topic synchronicity. Can’t wait to read your post about this. I totally agree that it’s more than reciprocity – and the way you put it, I see that of course it parallels IRL friendships too!

  5. So insightful, and so true, Wynne! <3 Social media friendships are really friendships, sort of like penpals we had in school, I think. We become interested in our blogger friends' experiences as well as mutual feedback and exchange of ideas. <3

  6. You know I like your father’s humor and wisdom but “If people love you, they’ll forgive you for a bad sermon or a missed phone call” is the best measure of loving friends I’ve read in a long time. Works in bloggy relationships as well as real life.

    1. So true, Ally! And it does work in both forums. Ah, I just had a wave of missing my dad flow through. He had so many good things to say… 🙂

  7. This post is very thought provoking Wynne. For me friendship is much more than reading others blogs and commenting. Maybe with someone I feel closer because I had the chance to get to know them better, but if I am in tears, how would I call someone on the other side of the world ? With a friend we would share the good and the bad of our lives, we would go out, we would laugh, discuss, and also have arguments. And to be able to do I would need a phone number. Maybe I am old fashioned but I think that a face-to-face relationship is essential to be friends. Without seeing the other person you miss all the aspects of the non verbal communication that are super important. But I agree with you Wynne, that by interacting with comments, it creates a deeper relationship.

    1. You make a good point about that one-on-one personal level of relationship that isn’t possible for most blogging relationships unless we reach out to establish it, Cristiana. Maybe we just get a sense of people from reading and interacting with them and it’s one layer of friendship but we need to go deeper for that trust and reliability to evolve.

  8. Though I can’t read all your posts simply for lack of time and head space (at times!!), the ones I do read always leave me with something to think about, laugh at, or simply say – I wish I knew you in person! I have made several friendships through my own blog and from reading and commenting on others. Friendships that feel much deeper than my in-person friends who scroll and occasionally like my pictures and thoughts on Facebook. Perhaps it is because here we can be vulnerable and authentic – have to be – in order for our writing to mean something beyond beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom today and always.

    1. I love what you say about the requirement to be vulnerable and authentic for our writing to mean something. Yes! You make such a great point about the things we share leading to sometimes deeper friendships than the ones we chat with IRL about the weather. Thank you for the comment (and I totally get the time and head space limit)!

  9. I’ve reflected some about this, overlaying the Adam Grant giver/taker/matcher agreeable/disagreeable grid onto the blogosphere. It seems to me there are many agreeable matchers here, and some disagreeable givers, but this format seems to weed out the disagreeable takers (as does almost any system), but also the agreeable takers as well.


    1. Oh, and I left out agreeable givers… I think there are less of those than the other two, what I would call main categories, but they also exist. However, I feel like they will typically burn out / flame out in time.

    2. Oooh, you have me fascinated with this comment. I’ve got to dig into more about Adam Grant’s grid but on first glance, it seems that then we’re left with matchers of both the agreeable and disagreeable variety? Hmm, I can’t wait to read more, but at my surface read, I think you’re right about the format weeding out the others. Thanks for the GREAT comment, David!

    1. I’m laughing! Right – not “just” friends. In retrospect, I think my title humor may have ended up coming across as if I’m fishing for a compliment. Well, one of those things that is hard to get right online… 🙂

      1. Right. And, I don’t mean to suggest you’re fishing at all. Merely stating that having a friend is always better than “just”.

  10. I do think it’s a combination of the two – engaging writing combined with connection together make that wonderful combination that builds a community in the blogosphere..

  11. You got the wheels turning with this post Wynne. Got me thinking. I get the idea of reciprocity at the start, but I do view my blogging friends as real friends, in some ways closer than friends in real life. I’m fascinated too by the commentary by others on WordPress. I find that my friends here inspire me and get the creative juices going more than any other outlets. Definitely a fascinating topic. Thanks so much friend for sharing!

    1. I consider blogging friends as real friends too. You are so right that friends here inspire and get the creative juices flowing – perfectly said, Brian. Thanks for comment, my friend!

  12. Reciprocity is a one of the strategies used in negotiations and it certainly seems to be the way that social media operates. Though as you know being social takes considerable time. So I guess we should ask ourselves if the time we dedicate to social is to build a relationship or to build an audience. Either way Wynne, I like reading you and I very much enjoy our relationship. 🌸

    1. Oh, I love how you’ve framed the question, Alegria. Building relationships or an audience? I agree with you – I’m so glad of our relationship. Thank you, my friend!

  13. This is one of those topics I’ve tossed around in my head many times. I admit, there are blogs that I absolutely race to read, and thoroughly enjoy. But there are also blogs I would probably not read if I did not have some sort of online relationship with the writer. I’ve only met one blogger in person and that was a priceless experience. She was absolutely lovely and after meeting in person I enjoy her blog all the more. Over the years I have reduced the number of blogs I read regularly. I also don’t read every day so most of the time I only catch a portion of the bloggers who write daily. I marvel at the people who are on line every day and respond promptly to all comments. It’s an amazing commitment to their readers and I believe that does form relationships. I suppose if your content is not interesting or engaging you will eventually lose readers, but the opposite is also true. Social media sort of relies on reciprocity, so like it or not, it’s embedded in the process. Hugs, C

    1. Reciprocity is embedded in the process – I love the way you put things, Cheryl. And your evolution over time in reading patterns makes sense too. It is lovely how meeting in person deepens the experience. Looking forward to one day when we’ll meet, my friend!

  14. Hmmm… I think the two are not mutually exclusive; you can enjoy someone’s writing and eventually end up being friends with them and vice versa. As for me, I usually read something that I like or can relate to. There’s so much to read in one day on WordPress, I guess. And as for my writing, I write what crosses my mind, so it’s not for everyone. If they like it, then it’s cool :3

    But it is a curious subject to ponder indeed…

    1. I love your description of your blog – and how it matches so well your screen name. You are right, there’s a lot to read in WordPress and the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Thanks for commenting!

  15. I feel like the connection to the writing builds the bridge between the reader and the blogger, but the comments are where they cross it to get to know one another. 💞💞💞

  16. Great question and interesting post. Some businesses advertise by“paying for clicks”. All of this social media stuff works the same way except you pay with time and attention instead of money. Finding new people to follow and share with can seem like a chore sometimes, but it can also yield the excellent result of making real friends and finding great work/writing to enjoy.

    1. What a great comment about paying with time and attention, Todd. Yes, that makes perfect sense. I’m grateful to have found you through this medium, my friend!

  17. To interact with others is important and helpful because it widens your point of view and improve your inspiration. I’m a young blogger(almost 18) New on WordPress and still learning so writting is very thrilling because i do it as a commitment to my community. Great work by the way

    1. Thank you, karikeraguy! I love seeing young bloggers – and the way you put it as a “commitment to your community” is beautiful! You are so right that interaction helps widen our inspiration!

  18. Reading every blog, and the comments from others, plus writing my own comments could easily become a full-time job. If time constraints preclude doing it all, I need to have a little chat with myself about doing as much as I can without allowing guilt to creep in if I don’t. I can’t imagine how those who write several blogs regularly can possibly keep up, still manage the rigors of day-to-day life and maintain your status as prolific bloggers.

    Speaking of comments—I just spent about a half an hour on this one, two days after its publication. So here’s the question—at this point, how many people will see it, read it, and is it worth the half-hour that it took to write it? Who am I writing the comment for? Wynne? Other bloggers who likely will never see it? Myself? Check all of the above? None of the above?

    Here’s a PS about blogger friendships: one blogger became a pen-pal and after a year of letters, she hopped on a train and came for a visit. Maybe someday, one of us will organize a Blogger Friends Convention. 🙏

    A final PS—if you don’t see a comment from me, it’s likely that I’m overwhelmed with other stuff, or beating off guilt. Either way, pray for me please.

    1. What a beautiful comment, Julia. I am all in for the blogger convention! You are right, there is so much to read and comment on and you pose a good question – is it worth the time and who is it for? I think for me it is for the author because I often skip over other people’s comments when I’m overwhelmed. But I think the love I’ve come to have for you is a great example of what can be done when we spend the time. Thank you, dear Julia!

  19. The sermon point was music to my ears. Too many people think Vicars/Pastors only work on a Sunday! All those little bits of interaction massively add up. I run a kids group at church called Rise and Shine, Wise and Shine should probably stay in my head a little longer than some other bloggers names. I really enjoyed your writing style.

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