The Popularity Contest Fought with Wit

Does anybody else get annoyed by pointless facebook/ twitter status updates? The ones that inform you of whatever dull occurrences, if you call them that, that person is/ has been/ will be doing, with no attempt to liven them with an interesting spin or witty delivery. I’m going to assume that the response to this is a unanimous ‘yes’ but whether or not you agree with me is kind of irrelevant: it bothers me and I’m going to complain about it in a blog post. Now, if you don’t care about this issue and have no interest in it at all, then your reading experience of this post will be much the same as mine of those pointless status updates, which is my point, really but I’ll get on to that in a bit.

See, every now and then I come over all facebook-nazi-esque (of course I’m using nazi in the metaphorical, rather than literal anybody-different-especially-Jews-hating sense) and use my facebook status to rant and/or make fun of those who choose to spend theirs informing the world that they are tired and going to bed soon or, my personal favourite, are bored. I declare that if you insist on telling me every mundane little detail of your life, at least attempt to make it entertaining – inject some comedy or interest. Or, in other words, that when posting something on the internet, including status updates, it should be something that people will want to read – not something that makes you want to throw yourself out of a window just to free yourself from the monotony of it all. Basically, you should think about your reader, not yourself, when publishing anything anywhere.

Thing is, though, this sets a rather high standard for everyone, including myself and I am also guilty of posting the occasional boring update, or indeed blog post, thinking solely about what I want to write about – what interests me. I may claim that I do so in the hope that others share my interest but I’m not truly thinking about my reader. All of this tends to intimidate me out of writing blog posts and tweets (it doesn’t affect my facebook statuses as much – just because I’m not as bothered about them). Indeed, it can cause something of a writer’s block, as I feel pressed to produce something witty and remarkable. Sometimes it feels as though twitter and blogs are nothing more than popularity contests fought with wit. To gain and keep followers or regular readers, you have to be consistently entertaining, otherwise people will simply stop reading and if someone is more witty or interesting than you, your readers may convert.

But how do you know what a reader wants to read? Well, I’m a great believer that anything can be made engaging through the way it is written, so, to me, the subject matter isn’t the most important point. However, some readers may only be interested in certain topics but, if you don’t write in those topics, you won’t attract them, anyway. Suppose someone with no interest in twitter or blogging stumbles across this post, they’ll probably stop reading but I’m hoping there are others who are interested; after all, I have linked this on twitter and it is written in a blog so the chances are fairly high.

Basically, if you want to be read or be followed you have to write updates or blog posts that people will want to read. If you find it too intimidating to be witty all the time, you’ll just have to learn to get over that. Bear in mind, though, that as long as you can answer the question of: why should someone else read this? you should be all right.

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