A few days ago I logged in and saw my blog has over 1,100 followers. I stared at the screen a moment. My eyes stopped blinking. I no longer heard my heart beating. One thousand, one hundred people.
And they’re all following me.
It’s hard to believe last year I had a goal of reaching 500 followers and now I’ve more than doubled that. But now that I’m here, what does it mean? What should I do?
With great power, they say, comes great responsibility. Having so many people behind me entrusts me with a twofold obligation: not only must I remain committed to providing content, I must also realize that whatever I say is reaching a larger audience than before–and that means I need to post more carefully, less carelessly, and ensure every word I say fully captures the intent behind it.
That’s a lot of pressure. It’s kind of scary.
But on the other hand–and I think this is closer to truth–these followers liked my blog one by one, and it hasn’t been careful posting that got me here: It’s been sharing myself, my ideas, my experiences, and listening to what my readers have to say. It’s symbiotic growth: as more listen, I must listen more–and as I talk more, I need more to talk with me.
Not too long ago I posted about HIV and race, and I received some of the best comments in my years blogging. They weren’t comments, though, as much as they were glimpses of greater conversations. I loved that feeling of being a part of something. I am not merely the producer of this space–I’m its consumer just as much as any reader, and I thrive on the feedback I receive–those moments when my experience can be shared with yours.
This week in my Campaigns and Elections class, we were discussing methods of galvanizing voters and getting them to the polls. On the topic of political consultants selling the best campaign advice for the greatest price, we touched upon a divisive issue: if money is speech, and those with more money can speak to more people, how is the influx of more money in campaign advertizing fair to our political system?
I’m torn on the issue of money in politics–it goes far beyond this single question and has pros for every con–but I ventured forth a small idea to the discussion: With social media, you no longer need money to reach massive audiences. Then again, I added, access to the Internet is not equal–so does this even ensure fairness is speech?
It’s a moot point to my discussion today, because right now I’m not thinking so much about politics as about social media. I have a place on Facebook, both personally and for my blog, and since February, I’ve had a place on Twitter, too.
It wasn’t long ago when I refused to use Twitter. Then I attended a grassroots organizing event hosted by Equality North Carolina and learned that the power behind Twitter goes further than merely 140 character blurbs about your life. Instead Twitter can be used as a force of social change, and that idea appealed to me. And just as much, I can use Twitter to help spread my word further–and thereby help to achieve the change I dream of seeing.
Except I don’t really know how to use Twitter, and with how busy this semester has been, I haven’t had the opportunity to learn. If there are any Twitter aficionados out there, I’d love a few words–or entire tutorials–about how to tweet and how to build a strong Twitter presence. It might end up being a summer goal for me, but now that I’ve crafted my own handle–@Writingwolf2010–I’m excited to learn what to do with it.
I’m still blown away by the fact that I have over 1,100 followers.
When I started this blog over four years ago, I wanted to make a name for myself. I wanted people to know me, I wanted a place where I could express myself. I feel like I’ve achieved that–but now I want to do so much more. I want to start conversations. I want to make a difference. I want to change the world.
And just by being here, reading thing, you’re helping me do that. Thank you.