The wall

Writing a blog is always a bit of a strange process. The thing is, you never really know who your audience is. Well for most of the readership anyway.

I mostly share my writing via Twitter. That is, I assume most people find me there. However, given that I have quite a bunch of followers that I don’t know, or don’t know well, there’s still a substantial question mark audience. Some people retweet, leading to yet another source of unknown readers.

Aside from Twitter, my blogs automatically end up on WordPress, which sort of has its own social media platform for bloggers. For a long time I didn’t give this much attention. Again, I had no clue who were my readers, a basic rule is that out of all readers, around one percent interact, for instance via comments or like on Twitter. Retweets are usually rare (and often come from the same person). A slightly higher percentage leaves a like on WordPress.

Blogging, in that sense, can be quite a lonely procedure. You’re basically writing on a wall in a poorly visited alleyway, and somehow expecting people to read it, and take a moment of their time to let you know their thoughts. It’s really cool when that happens, you know…? Meaningful conversation inspired by a blog can brighten my day.

I’ve had quite a few loyal readers that came back to read a post regularly, and every now and then would leave a like or comment.

(Are you still there? I appreciate you!)

I’ve had two loyal readers that were really hardcore. They read every single word, and either liked, commented or shared on other social media platforms, such as Twitter.

These two were like my core audience. Whatever happened, I knew they would be listening.

They didn’t know each other. Yet they have something in common.

They’re both dead…

My first loyal reader was an entomology professor that loved blogging. I’ve read his blog for many years, and he was there from the start with mine. I’ll never know how he found my blog, but he must have liked it – he shared almost every post on his Twitter account. He passed away a little over a year ago, and left quite a hole. Even though we never met in person, it felt like we knew each other well. Blogging did that, I think.

The second was a blogger that is well known for her blogs on mental health. We didn’t know each other at all. Yet, we read each other’s stories and interacted regularly. Her blogs had an amazing depth and quality to them. I learned recently that she committed suicide, after battling depression for many years. In a way it felt like I had lost a friend, even if we had never spoken. We would have never met if it weren’t for blogging. Blogging most certainly did that.

It’s a strange way to come back from my leave of absence…

So now we’re back at the empty wall. Thinking about what could be written on it. Hoping to find the right words for someone to read. Maybe it will make someone smile, or teach them something new. Maybe someday it might ignite a conversation, heck, maybe even a friendship. Until then, I’ll keep on blogging.

Thanks for reading, whoever you are ❤️.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

4 thoughts on “The wall

  1. You’re right, blogging is a strange thing;) Not knowing who the audience ist, is one of the reasons why I keep my blog private. So, props to you.
    I’m sorry for the loses of your two loyal readers. I have some people that I met via blogging or engaging on other social media, that kind of feel like friends and are valuable to me, even though I never met them in real life. That’s definitely one of the great things about social media:)
    I hope you’ll get lots of great conversations this year:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. So you write a blog, but don’t publish it? Or is it only available for people you ‘grant access’? I totally agree with you on social media. Although at times it all feels like toxic sludge, there are definitely positive interactions that are built via social media. I have literally built long-lasting friendships through the internet, that continue in real life to this day. In that same line of thought, I have made many professional links via social media and the internet. I have coauthored several scientific publications including people I only know via online communication. It’s interesting that in the first two years of the pandemic, I was only teaching ecology online, too. Only now, with things opening up again, I am starting to see faces I only knew from Zoom!

      I’m sure interesting conversations will happen. (They are already happening! 😀 )

      Like

      1. Yes, I write a blog just for myself=D It works as a (online) diary for me. Maybe some day I will start sharing it, but for now I´ll keep it just for myself:)
        On the other side, I enjoy reading about the lives and daily struggles of other people. It is nice to get insights not only on the filtered aspects that are so often presented on Instagram and other social platforms and it sure sparks interesting interactions.
        That´s cool that you also got in contact with other scientists. Maybe some day you will also meet them somehow:) It´s always great to meet people offline. Sometimes also a bit funny. If you only see a colleague via Teams or Zoom and only after the pandemic realise the person is much bigger or smaller than you thought.

        Liked by 1 person

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