Opinion

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #10 (The “Love the One You’re With” Version)

Note: This post is from three years ago, so it’s a bit dated, but my thoughts are relatively the same. Enjoy.

 

It’s not a shocking revelation to say the blogging world is filled with creatures great and small, bless those beasts and children. What might surprise you, based on the random rantings I sometimes hurl into the blogosphere and then just wait for somebody to challenge me (which I actually like, because it makes me think about and solidify my worldview), is that I actually follow a huge variety of bloggers. Not just the folks that agree with me, although there are lines that can be crossed and we don’t go there. So, in the interests of growing as a family and singing songs about compassion and trust, let’s take a gander at some blogging categories.

Here we go…

ONE. The Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.

I actually follow several erotica blogs. In fair disclosure, I can say that most (all?) of them present stories focused on participants, activities, positions and outfits that I would never, ever, consider pursuing. (“I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”) I know what I like and things have worked out swimmingly for 50 years. But the appeal, for me, with these sites? The writing. A good writer can take any topic or situation and turn it into music, it’s that simple. And that really applies to the theme of any blog. If your words make me want to come back, I will.

That doesn’t mean I will necessarily renew my visa, though. If you get exploitative and trashy, as some writers do once they have a steady supply of johns on their roster, regardless of the genre, I’m done. There might be fifty ways to leave your lover, but the most effective one is to hit the un-follow button. Bye.

TWO. Conservatives who are so tightly anal they will never be able to get a proctology exam.

I’m a liberal. Go tell it on the mountain and dance in the streets. And the fact that some people are doing their very best to associate liberalism with all the darkest facets of society just strengthens my resolve. Still, I’m all about a quality argument. If you can present your case in a factual and considerate manner, I will listen. Why would I not want to read an articulate, thoughtful opinion piece, even if I don’t agree with it? There are so many idiotic people in the world, let’s be honest, belligerently repeating lies, without an iota of thought-processing in the mix, running with the shadows of the night.

Dialogue is key, in basically any situation there is. If you want to talk intelligently, I want to sit down and have a virtual beer with you. (And maybe some nachos. A good plate of nachos, prepped just right and served with equality, can lead to world peace.) So I follow a number of conservative blogs, freely admit. Silos don’t work. Conversation does.

THREE. Jesus and the Jamming.

I’m a very spiritual person, despite the rumors and a certain heated comment thread that I’m assuming most of you did not see, because many of my posts fall into the Abyss of Nothingness and are never heard from again. (But it’s still there, if you want to get all Sherlock and dig for it.) Of course, “spiritual” means one thing to me and a different thing to Eleanor Rigby down the street, pulling up to the bumper with her insistence that there is only one path to enlightenment.

When someone new follows me, I do the full-out body search. (No one gets an automatic follow-back from me. Sounds harsh, I suppose, but I consider following to be a commitment, one that you should be able to honor with some degree of respect for both yourself and the person you’re following.)  I look at the recent posts, I check the archives to see how long you’ve been posting, and (this is often the deal-breaker) I check the “About” page.  (Why would you not have something on your About page? It doesn’t have to be a thesis, but slap some words in there. Damn.)

Anyway, point is, if your blog is crammed full of Bible quotes and little else, I’m not going to follow you back. This is not being disrespectful of religion, at least in my book. I want to hear your thoughts, not someone else’s. If you have to depend on the words of others to define yourself, there’s really no definition at all. A quote or two and then you branch from that? Great. Let’s hear what you have to say. (And that’s why I follow a number of strongly-religious blogs. It’s the writing, folks. Can’t stress that enough.) Simply parroting scripture? Not my thing. Teach me, papa, don’t preach.

FOUR. The Shell Game.

Easy rule, here: If you have less than five posts on your blog, and your “like” buttons and sharing buttons and archives and essentially everything else is non-existent, with me getting a message along the lines of “This is where the About Page would be if the author really cared enough”, I’m not going to follow you back. Yes, I understand that new bloggers need some love, and some guidance. But I’ve been in this particular dating scene for some time and the Golden Rule is this: Flesh out your blog before you try to flesh out your followers.

Get several posts up in your playground, with as much variety as possible, and make sure that you pick a theme and layout that works. This might take a little time to figure out, and that’s fine, we were all babes in toyland at some point. But show some respect for your potential readers. This is not a place where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. Earn the trophy. You don’t get to be Jessie’s Girl just because you have a flattering profile pic of you flopping around on a beach in Cancun. Speaking of…

FIVE. Supermodel (You Better Work)

This one’s a bit of a retread in that I have babbled before about fashion blogs. I do follow some, and it once again goes back to the writing. I don’t want to buy anything that you’re promoting, but you’re funny and engaging when you do it and I can respect that. Not engaging? 74 pictures of you wearing the same exact outfit in 74 ill-defined locations. (Why is she standing outside Alice’s Restaurant? What the hell?) And nothing else. Just you, and maybe a portable fan blowing your locks about while you pout your lips and exhibit self-love with a vengeance that is mind-boggling. Honey, you’re not all that. You are not all that. But thank you for providing Exhibit A in why there is such a cultural divide right now in our world. Some people are only in it for themselves. Other people are in it for everyone. And only one of those teams is the right answer.

Cheers.

P.S. Bonus points to those who caught all the song references in this bit. (Tony? Are you there? Neil? Dirty Seppy?) There’s no real prize, just the quiet satisfaction of personal accomplishment…

 

Previously published in “Bonnywood Manor”. No changes made other than the intro and outro. Now that I’m done with NaNoWriMo for the year (yes, I hit the goal, and then some) I will be able to whip up more fresh posts instead of what seems like an endless stream of re-shares. Of course, we’re also in the midst of the holidays now, so I might have just lied to you. We shall see…

 

34 replies »

    • First, thank you for enjoying the re-treads. It’s a difficult dilemma for me, in that I try to post something every day, but there are many days when I just don’t have the time to cobble together something new and hopefully interesting…

      Second, I’m thinking I might need to whittle down the number of blogs that I follow. I really do try to read everything, but it’s becoming a bit of a chore. On the flip side, how do I whittle down? There are a lot of folks out there producing some lovely posts, and setting some of them free makes my heart hurt a little bit…

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s really hard to do. I like blogging and love the bloggers I follow and will even “save” posts for later when I can do a leisurely read. But I have a busy job with long days and I can only read so many, hence the limit I’ve imposed on myself. That’s what works for me and is respectful of the bloggers I follow.
        You will need to do what’s best for you, Brian.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I have to agree with your main point, Blogs must be entertaining to read, to see, to hear. If not, I may try a time or two more, give it a try or three more. If it still doesn’t do it for me, I walk away. There is one very well written blog that I followed that , ahem, straddles the first category. The author, however is wasting his talent with terrible life choices. Bitterness and self loathing began to permeate his posts, they were taking a downward nihilistic path. I stepped away, I averted mine eyes- a reference to category 3- and his blogs now gather dust, unread. The only blog I’ve followed that I have taken the cowardly way out of!
    You had me worried for a millisecond at the end of category 2, I initially read conversation as conservatism. Very scary.
    Of course, spirituality has not a damn thing to do with whatever God/Deity, illusion/delusion works for you. I’m sure there’s a grain of truth to words handed down and bandied about (for two thousand long and sinful years) believed by those far holier than me. If you feel your prayers are being answered by Whoever, well, as an old time sailor once said ‘whatever floats your boat’. Anyway, my labored point is; its not the story, its the telling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We are essentially on the same page, something I haven’t doubted since roughly two seconds after we tripped over one another in the blogosphere. And I fully agree with your thoughts on spirituality. I am not a religious person, at all, but I firmly believe that what we do and what we say has lingering repercussions, perhaps in a way that none of us can truly understand, yet we still own the responsibility of making sure those doings and sayings contribute rather than detract.

      I don’t think it’s cowardly to stop supporting a blog where the energy becomes pointless and self-involved. No one wins in that situation. Yes, I can be accused of having my own inflexible opinions about whatnot, points that I may hammer upon with annoying redundancy, but the underlying methodology with all that is that we should always do the right thing. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about Us, and we should all be respectful of that collective term, and that’s how we should do the telling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • All I want when I go to WordPress is entertainment. Humor is an essential , be it overtly bright or black as damnation. Make me smile, I’ll follow. Make me grimace, away I go.i just want to laugh at life, Dammit! Well written and coherent comment from you again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly how you feel. I’m very careful when I follow someone because when I do, I engage with them every week, and it’s hard to do that when it’s just gifs or 100 pictures of an outfit or promotions for something I’d never buy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t follow any erotica blogs. I’m not sure I would understand anything they were writing about anyway…probably because I have those pesky “Puritan ways.”
    I’ve never really grasped the concept of “conservative” or “liberal.” I believe in equality for all and nothing shoots my blood pressure all the way up to normal like prejudice, racism and hate inspired epithets. Maybe I’m a “conserveral or a liberative?”
    I follow a few blogs that are all about praising God and giving Him glory. I am a God-fearing person but I have been mad and pissed off at Him for quite a while now. Probably going to Hell…but WTF? I prayed my little eyes out when I was younger, and did a lot of hitting my knees when I was older. The dad-burned answer was always a resounding “NO!”
    The shell game. Yep. I’ll get a follower who has a few of their own, but I think a lot of them just click “follow” hoping that you’ll follow them and increased their stats. They don’t really care about if and what you write.
    AND…you have mentioned the “about me” page before. How the hell do I do that? I don’t even know where it is…and what do I put? Oh! I know…I could put,”I don’t know how to tell you about me.” That ought to give you some insight into the computer illiterate self that is me!
    I don’t follow any fashion blogs…or cooking blogs. I tend to wear what I want and don’t much care what the new trends are. And cooking? I consider it a milestone when I actually open a can of soup, get out a pot, turn the stove on and burn the soup because I’ve forgotten about it. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, now. I’m not even sure how to respond to all of your thoughts. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of a lie. Let’s toss aside any sense of structure and I’ll go right to this:

      I think you are fascinating and intriguing and absolutely wonderful. You have an admirable grasp of your self worth, despite the crapfest of things that have happened to you (and many of those same things have happened to me, with perhaps different shades of reality). I have always admired your gumption and decency and, even though you don’t like to hear it, because you claim to not be a writer, your mastery of words. You speak truth when so many folks hide behind lies and denial.

      I relish that. In fact, I kind of heart you a bit, if you’ll allow me to say so.

      Now, get your ass back to finishing the story series you are currently working on. I need to know what’s going to happen… 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • What wonderful things you say. Not many appreciate my bluntness. Maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends. LOL.
        I kind of heart you as well. No. I do heart you. I enjoy your writing so much. One day, I will be laughing my eyes out, wishing I had a tenth of your wit. The next day, I am moved by the poignant, heart-rending words that so easily flow from your soul.
        I have been a little trepidatious about my writing lately. Apparently my book ruffled some feathers and the result was a complete fracture of what used to be my family. Choices were demanded and choices were made. Sigh.
        I did write two more chapters of my latest and that damn Charlie (the little bastard who leaves the lights on, leaves one square on the toilet paper roll and hides your car keys) was up to mischief and somehow, he deleted them. I’m not sure I can re-write them. I might try, though, just to occupy my mind. The holidays are difficult for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep, yep, yep, uh yeah, totally.
    Congrats on the nano… Nanu Nanu👍

    Would you lie to me?
    Would you lie to me honey?
    Now would you say (write) something that wasnt true?
    I’m asking you sugar
    Would you lie to me?

    These aren’t re-treads to me. My butt hasn’t even dented the cushion in my favorite chair yet😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t have a coherent comment to make. Transiberian (sp?) Orchestra playing “Carol of the Bells” and the “Wizards in (of) Winter” have driven every quip from my old bean pan. So your own ‘Nanu Nanu” (nod to Angie) effort was done in private and not hung out to dry for anyone to read like my own was? Well I’m remedying that soon, by archiving all the Nano-nanu bits and putting them away. My only question remains: How the hell did you get ANYTHING done while trying to write all that? It totally wrecked my own life and banished any illusions I had about how organized I am. The dogs are crabby (no walkies) and my kitchen looks vaguely like someone who microwaves a lot of frozen food threw up in there. My holiday gear (as such..it consists these days of turning on the lights that someone else hung on my house and putting out the ceramic snowmen beside the garage) is not finished and overall I’m just TIRED. And this comment got way out of control. Mea culpa. Congrats on the Nano completion. Merry whatever. Whee.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, to be fair, this is my fifth year to do Nano, so I can usually slip into ” the mode and the mood” quite easily. My first year was terrible, and I had to race almost every night to meet the midnight deadline with a respectable word count, and I didn’t always make it. (642 words? Good enough. Submit.) My problem is that I was both writing and editing. Once I trained myself to drop the editing instincts and just free-associated it (“the mode), things went much more swimmingly. I can now bang out 2,000 words within 1-2 hours. (My best day this year was 4k, and that still only took about 3 hours.

      The difference this year is that I didn’t really share any of the new material on this blog, which I usually do. (There might have been one excerpt toward the beginning of the month?) There just weren’t a lot of easily sliced-off segments for sharing, as the story is rather convoluted. Still, end of the day, I have an additional 72k words and 170 pages of material that I can work with going forward. This satisfies me and that’s why I do it, to build up a stockpile of ideas. It’s just not an exercise that works for everyone.

      Now, as for Holiday decorations? I haven’t done squat. Then again, I probably won’t this year, as all the festivities are being held elsewhere. I’ll probably just do a tree and call it good…

      Like

  6. I like your writing ( which is why I follow your blog).

    I don’t follow that many blogs at the moment. Not for lack of follow-worthy blogs, but because I often don’t have the time or energetic bandwidth ( Ah, the joys of chronic depression..) to keep up with them. Aforementioned dépression clinique ( sounds so much classier in French, doesn’t it? Like something upper middle class middle aged women might slather onto their necks after a shower) also means that I can’t afford to take my own blogging too seriously at the moment, either. I do get how it works; I’ve had a billion blogs in my lifetime. I’m just a walking cloud of “meh” at present, so I simply can’t be arsed.

    I had no idea you were a spiritual human ( I knew you were human, just so you know). I’m a lot more spiritual ( not religious) than many people around me would ever suspect. I guess my particular brand of spirituality leans on Jungian psychology somewhat, and sometimes goes out for coffee with Paganism whilst checking out Shamanism’s nice butt. I’m interested in various belief systems, but a lot of them don’t resonate with me personally. I enjoy meditation. (Well, I’m not sure “enjoy” is the word. But it’s good for mental health- no lie). For me, spirituality is intensely personal, which is why I don’t go on about it much. It serves a psychological function for me, and I don’t particularly need anyone else to understand it. I actually tend to think there’s an element of desperation involved when people feel the need to get preachy / get all gung-ho about enlisting new club members. My truth is my truth, and I don’t require a team or a bunch of cheerleaders to validate it for me. *Shrug* . That’s just me. I realise that for some people it’s about feeling part of a community, or maintaining traditions, etc etc.

    Anyway, sorry about the total lack of consideration re: grammar and structure in this comment. As I mentioned: “meh”. Keep up the writing though; I hope to get caught up and be more “blog social” at some stage soon. Cheerio!

    Liked by 2 people

    • P.s. I forgot to mention that I agree with your sentiments re: “About” pages. I appreciate an interesting and well-written one, although it seems that most people read blogs on the reader only, and never get around to visiting the actual blog ( I’m guilty of that myself sometimes due to intermittent bouts of apathy). This means that any additional pages often go unseen by many.

      I had a wordypress blog years ago with a decent amount of followers, but most of them hadn’t even realised I had ANY pages- let alone an “about” page- until I mentioned said pages in a post. So I guess it’s something that a lot of people just don’t seem to care about. I almost didn’t bother creating any pages ( “About” or otherwise) on account of this…..but I enjoy writing them, and I figure if even one person bothers to check them out, then at least they get some substance ( and by “substance” I mean something akin to a tab of acid that was accidentally dropped into a puddle).

      I’m going now- promise!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I really enjoyed both of your comments, seriously. For me, half the enjoyment of blogging is situations like this, wherein I get to share and explore with fellow writers. In fact, there have been so many of my posts that were just “meh”, something I slapped together in just two seconds, but the comment sections would become a thrilling and enlightening experience. I love to write-talk and read-listen, and when you get a bunch of similar folks pontificating away, it’s almost arousing.

        We are much in agreement when it comes to spirituality and religion. They are two very different things, although they sometimes cozy up against one another in a Venn diagram. I don’t adhere to any single concept or philosophy. I pick and choose and experiment and drop things and find new things and just keep building the perfect beast, for me. Like you, I don’t talk about it all that much (although I’m happy to do so if someone asks) and I certainly don’t need the cheerleaders. I’m perfectly content with my path and I don’t really look back. Unless I can get a good nostalgic story out of it to share on the blog or in my books… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Half of me misses having any kind of comment section on my own blog…but the other half is enjoying the lack of pressure to have to be “internet social”. (I do like that I have the option of being so when I can on other people’s bloggos, though!)

          It looks as though we’re on the same page re: spiritual stuff. I feel as though if I had to break it down, I *feel* ( rather than outright believe) that there’s some sort of interconnectedness between things; people; events; times/eras etc. I haven’t quite made up my mind how it works, but I guess it’s a bit like Jung’s idea of the Collective Unconscious.

          I likes a good nostalgic story once in a while. Cheerio! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so glad I found this one. It is funny (of course, it’s from Bonnywood Manor) and it is smart (of course, it’s from Bonny Wood Manor). When I read your comments on various “proofs of purpose” I was ready to sit down with paper and pencil and write an amen chorus. I won’t do that but I have to tell you about my reaction to fashion blogs…I don’t mind so much if they show me the same outfit in front of different buildings (particularly if the buildings, or parks, or old cars, or whatever have historic or aesthetic value). What sends me running for the emesis basin is when they arrange themselves in impossible contortions in order to better highlight their curves and crevices and areas introduced to silicone. I wonder how on earth they found my blog and why. That said, you could turn your post into a truly beneficial tutorial for new bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you found it, as well. Despite Bonnywood being known as a “humor” blog, I like to share all kinds of things, from light to dark, although it’s fair to say that I infuse even the most serious topics with a dollop or two of humor. Even the heaviest meals taste better when given a bit of witty levity.

      Now, the fashion blogs and the fake followers. Most of these folks are much younger, and they have been raised completely on social media. They have a different mindset, and they are heavily invested in branding and statistics and high numbers. This might sound harsh, and of course not all the younger set is like that, but they just have a different perception of “social interaction”. We are used to the old-school concept of “getting to know someone” and the time-honored tradition of taking your time. They base relationships, at least digital ones, on clicks and likes and follows.

      I would be happy to tutor anyone who is truly invested in producing a quality blog. Trouble is, and this applies to even some of us older folks, some people don’t take kindly to constructive criticism. And I would probably lose my patience, and my students, on the first day… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Brian, I just reread my comment and realized the last line doesn’t sound a bit like what I intended to say.
        Your article is already of great value to all bloggers. It should be a part of a Bloggers’ Bible. (that is what
        I meant by “turned into”) Having said that, it would be neat to have a Bloggers’ Bible. It could have some
        techie stuff in it but the heart of it would be information made memorable by humor and wit. sarah

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember this one and still admire it. Thought I have to ask, does all of it still pertain? What I mean to say is, do you honestly visit and/or follow every blogger who visits Bonnywood? And if so, when do you sleep?
    It shames me to admit this but I can’t remember the last time I followed someone. I used to visit every new follower just like you describe above, read through a couple of their posts, check out their about page, etc. Only to find the majority of them were… fakers. Just out to jack up their stats. I guess I got jaded.
    Speaking of those Stat Sluts — don’t you weary of the ones who sweep through someone’s blog and “likes” every comment that was left on a post, just so everyone will get an email saying “BettysBestBuns liked your comment!” I used to check out what profound comment I had left and once it was something pretty lame like “Ha! Funny!” because apparently I was a little off that day. And so then I looked and sure enough, BettysBestBuns liked every damn comment.
    Geez. I am really jaded…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I still check out the blogs of every person who visits Bonnywood. They clicked like for some reason, and I owe it to them (and myself) to find out if they honestly appreciated my writing or they are trolling for click-love. I often find that it’s trolling, but just as often I encounter a blog that is fine, indeed. If I don’t follow up, I may lose a good reader and writer. That’s a sin in my book. One of the lighter ones, but still.

      One thing that has changed is that I’m starting to slowly drop really good bloggers who no longer visit me. This is not out of egotism, but, as you reference, there’s only so much time in the day. You might be the best writer in the world, but we have to have a healthy relationship for us to remain blogger compadres. I just don’t have the spare time for a one-sided relationship. You don’t have to visit me every day, but you should remember where I live and send a postcard every so often…

      Now, the carpet-bombing of likes. That gets on my nerves as well. But there’s a different flavor of such that I enjoy, and here’s an example: There’s a gentleman in India who started following me, oh, a few months ago. He writes some really swell things, especially poetry. We visit each other almost every day. When he doesn’t have something fresh, I’ll dig in his archives and find a little something or other to enjoy. Suddenly, today, he went through my own archives and my stats exploded with likes and views. We already have a relationship, so it wasn’t an attempt to get a follow-back. He doesn’t have a huge amount of followers and he doesn’t get a tremendous amount of likes. I think he did it just to show his appreciation for someone taking the time to visit and support on a regular basis. And that’s the kind of bombing I will happily accept, any day…

      Liked by 1 person

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