It’s true. Like so many other people, I will often decide if I really want to read a post based on its title. If it can grab me, I might read through the first paragraph. From there, I decide if I want to invest in anything more that it might have for me.
It’s rare that I make it to the second paragraph on anything. By the time I’ve examined the title, consulted the image, as all major sites must have at least one image per post, I’ve made my decision. I’m either already into the third paragraph, carefully reading what was written, or I’ve moved on to something else.
That’s the way I imagine most people consume blog posts too. Unless it is by someone they know will be interesting or is trusted, or maybe even recommended reading from friends, it’s easy to quickly scan through a post for something interesting like words in bold or something italicized before jump to the next item. It’s often some type of personal game to see how much can be parsed without actually reading any of it before finally getting to how other people reacted to it.
It’s personal. Maybe that’s the problem. On most of the posts I look at, it’s rare to see a comment anymore. Sure, some of the major sites have extended threads, but I don’t see them on the blogs I read. If there are any comments at all, it’s a quick affirmation, basically the phrase equivalent of a “Like” or “Favorite”. It’s nothing extended.
To leave a comment is to commit a reaction from a post into words. There’s this thought that it has some type of permanence. After all, with the services most sites use to combat spam, anything you submit is tied to your account. It’s forever a part of that you.
I’ve tried to get over this discomfort myself recently and have been leaving more comments more often. If a post made me think and I think I can add something useful, I try to respond. I write out how what I read intersected with my own thoughts. It’s trying to make the statement that “I read what you wrote and you made me think. Here’s what those thoughts were.”
Still, it’s weird. With the rise of social networks, it’s become increasingly uncommon to try to have a dialogue with the original author of a piece. It’s all secret gardens and gated groups. It’s sharing to a few, with posts gathered more than discussed. It’s passed around as the latest shiny-new of the moment.
With the few people I feel comfortable with leaving comments on their work on any regular basis, I’m usually quite verbose. Like, hundreds of words verbose sometimes. I try to treat the comment space as a way to have a conversation. I’m not just asking a question, but posing new ideas and my own take on the topic.
Is that narcissism? Maybe. I’m not sure. I don’t think of it in those terms, certainly. Since I’m not just disagreeing with a take, theory, or position, but posting my own thoughts, it could be seen that way, I guess. However, it’s also privileging the author too, in a way. Maybe what I write in a comment will provoke a thought in the author for some later elaboration or another future post. That’s the hope anyway.
Yet, without others doing it too, I feel almost bad about it. It’s like I’m committing a faux pas of blogging to respond in a comment without arguing with or trying to correct a perceived mistake in the material. In posting a comment, it’s presented as nearly a type of supplication to be considered as worthy or not by the author. Should they bless such an offering through moderation, it’s content will appear with the author’s own.
The functionality is there though. There’s this space for a response, a defined area for content. Might as well use it.