“I think writers are the most narcissistic people.”
— Sylvia Plath, American poet and novelist, 1932-1963
This blog passed a milestone today: 50,000 hits since I installed a hit counter shortly after beginning these sporadic ramblings in April 2009 to chronicle a cross-country bicycle journey.
Trouble is, I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t know whether to be pleased or disappointed. I have no ready, reliable means of comparison with similar blogs.
I’d like to think that 50,000 bicycle aficianados surfing the Web stumbled upon this blog and found it interesting enough to take a look. But, alas, that would be wishful thinking.
A goodly portion of those 50,000 hits are repeat readers, such as my son in Taiwan who says he checks the blog daily. That considerably narrows the audience of individual viewers.
My tech-wizard brother-in-law tells me that another chunk of those hits are by Internet “search bots” launched by such companies as Google. The “bots” continuously troll the Internet for new pages to build searchable indices for the companies’ search engines.
Evidence of that, perhaps, is that “Jim’s Bike Blog” pops up at the top of the Google list if you type the name of the blog or my name into the search window.
There’s no way to tell whether a Net surfer who happened upon the blog quickly moved on to another page or lingered awhile to read. But a “widget” on the blog, which shows where hits come from, indicates that browsers from Australia to Yemen, Andorra to Slovenia clicked onto the blog for at least a momentary perusal.
Nevertheless, 50,000 hits over a year is but a drop in the ocean when one considers that some celebrity blogs can record millions of hits in a day with a hot item on some pop flash like Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.
The competition for attention is millions of other blogs. The website Technorati says it has indexed 133 million blogs since 2002. The number of people who read blogs daily has been estimated at 346 million. The average number of blog posts in a 24-hour period is put at 900,000. And WordPress, the platform that I use for this blog, says it hosts, as of this writing, 292,670 blogs, and counting. (See April 20 blog post, “Scribbling in the ether.”)
And consider this: When I was a working journalist, a single compelling dispatch that I wrote from Moscow, say, as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press, or an Op-Ed piece for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, would command a potential audience of far more than 50,000.
So blogging, I’ve concluded, is essentially a narcissistic enterprise by those who imagine they have something to say and that people will read their musings.
But I believe that I’ll continue this blog. It’s fun to do, it allows me to continue writing after more than four decades in journalism, it allows me to learn something new nearly every day, and it keeps me from indulging in other, more dangerous vices.