Real readers of this blog seem to be split pretty evenly between actual WordPress followers and those who check out posts on the IATIW Facebook page. I just finished a second promotion on FB and attracted a number of new folks who were nice enough to stop, read a bit, and even like the page. Thanks again to all of you, no matter how you found me.
Today…well today was unique. I posted a link to a news story that was running along the side of my personal FB page. I was astounded by the story. I found it incomprehensible that the perpetrator could carry out such a heinous act. It was not a story that I sought out. It glared at me from the running FB news feed. Anyone with a FB account could have chosen to view the story on their own. There was no need to follow my link. I posted to make a comment about the cruelty of the act because I’m not sure that I have a true capacity to believe that anyone could do what was described.
Typically when I post links to articles on feminism, or gender issues, or healthcare, or crime, or race, or society.. well actually when I post just about anything on the FB page, I reach less than 10 people per post. Reaching simply means that in some way, someone on FB engaged to some degree with the post. The post/link today reached 150 people.
So I’m attempting to puzzle together why so many people on FB would engage with a post found on my page today, 150 people mind you, when the average is almost certainly about 5 engagements per my ‘typical’ post. Did my comment draw them in? I highly doubt it. Did the extremely blunt title of the news article attract attention? The title, while dramatic, did not detail the actual nature of the events that unfolded within the story itself. You had to choose to read the story to learn why I commented the way I did.
I am aware that sensationalized headlines tend to attract readers. Media coverage all too often shapes the viewpoint of our society. Drama and pain and horror and outright deviance enables ratings to rise along with higher financial gain going directly into the pockets of large media corporations. Today, with the reason somehow lost to me, my choice to link a news story to a FB page created a mini frenzy of engagement on an otherwise rather mundane, very frequently ignored FB page. I somehow inadvertently created an interesting sociology experiment without really trying.
I also had the distinct, and incredibly interesting opportunity to engage with a FB reader related to this post. I have chosen to enable the FB page to be open and allow all comments. I’m not about limiting comments to only those that agree with my views and opinions, or my content. I have noted many times that I encourage thoughtful, intelligent, and meaningful interactions. I am not about name-calling. I am not about rudeness. I am not about engaging with commentary that is clearly rambling, grammatically lacking, or filled with very obvious spelling and punctuation errors. I am not about giving credence to comments that fit within any or all of the above criteria and then end with the quaint ‘lol‘ notation.
I was privileged to experience all of this today. The engagement came from a person that I have never had contact with prior to today and this post. I have no idea how this person found my page. Perhaps their interest started with this last promotion. Perhaps it was by chance today. Perhaps they have visited before. I can speculate, but I will not ask. It was clear to me that this reader often develops a pattern of engagement that goes beyond mutually informative and rational discourse. It was clear to me that this reader has very specific reasons for their style of writing and commentary. It was clear to me that, from the initial comment, I was reading the words of someone who enjoys instigating. It was clear to me that my page just happened to be today’s target.
I found this amusing, and curious, and challenging. Faced with disjointed comments from a stranger, the only real and functional thing that I could do was laugh, and wonder a bit about things like mental stability and capacity and vulnerabilities and the day-to-day life of others who seem to channel absurdity through FB comments.
Then I just shook my head. I wanted engagement. I think that I need to be a bit more careful about what I wish for.