Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blogging is like fishing

I've noticed that some days the catch is better than others. Oh, I'm strictly catch and release, on the fishing analogy, since my readers are free to nibble on all the bait that's out there (and, judging from the "next post" feature that Blogger offers, there's a lot of variety out there, some of it a bit too eyebrow-raising for me).

One day last week I noticed I had over 100 hits on the blog, which is a record for me, and I went back to see if I could figure it out, like any good fisherperson. I think it was probably Tuesday's post about earnest Unitarian Universalists and the definition of hippies and the extreme edges of social movement, which engendered some of the best comments I've read lately on all sides of the issue. Of course, it was also a General Assembly retrospective, in a way, because my thoughts had been stimulated by hopping off the MAX one day in Portland and seeing UUs with blotchy signs in too-small lettering, inviting people to a rally of some kind and uttering the typical UU message of "It's wrong; let's fix it!"

The Favorite Son even took on the challenge, making a case for the passionate fools who TRULY believe as opposed to those who merely want attention, and Joel the Neff lambasted for the other side, feeling that protest marches are not effective unless they rally already-persuaded troops. I did have to bridle on that one, because I think that social protest has its place, whether or not there is an immediate positive response. Change takes time.

Anyhow, this post is about fishing and its similarity to blogging. I suspect it's more than the bait we throw out there; I suspect it's related to water and weather conditions, time variations, mood swings, and the like. It's summer, so many people's schedules are different and they aren't reading blogs (or they are unexpectedly having time to read blogs). Fish feed when they're hungry, in parts of the water that are conducive to rest and to food availability; bloggers do too, IMHO.

I also think that over this past year of blogging, my technical know-how has grown, so that I've learned to put a greater variety of posts on the blog. I've also learned that a few of my congregants read the blog, so I try to be cognizant of their interest. And of course The Son and The Neff read it, so I know I'm speaking to them as well.

My former husband once said that fishing was addictive because of its quality of intermittent reinforcement. That's what blogging is to me, I think. I never know for sure what bait is going to attract the fish; I can't know what is happening in the lives of readers and whether or not they will come to check out the bait.

Actually, that's a lot like ministry. Blogging is like fishing is like ministry. There's that quality of intermittent reinforcement, where I don't know what my dear congregants need at any given time, so I have to give the best I can at all times. I don't blame the fish if they don't bite; I don't blame the readers if they don't check me out; I don't (usually) blame the congregants if they don't find what they need in me. But I don't (usually) blame myself either. I do make every effort to give my best at all times and that's the heart of ministry.

We ministers cannot be all things to all people; we can only make our best effort and let go of the outcome, hoping that in some miraculous way it will all come together and turn out well. And it often does!


Ms. Theologian said...

I find the whole number of hits and number of comments topic absolutely fascinating. And I think your ex is totally right. It's the occasional (and sometimes random) reinforcement that makes it sort of addictive. But I do think that sometimes you know when you hit the nail on the head and people are drawn to it.

I had more traffic this month in hits and more comments than any other month. I wonder if there's some sort of UU upsurge online.

Joel said...

Ms. T is quite right. I find my ego is supported (or thrashed) by my hit counter. I also wish I could meet some of these people as you did in Portland. Alas, my readers are scattered all over the place. I knew a couple of them before they took up the blog habit, but neither Christina nor I can think of anybody we've met in person through the blogosphere.

I have to admit I hadn't seen much UUism online until you started blogging. Maybe it's because doctrinal debate is a fixture of religion blogs, and UUs seem to have a dearth of that.

Joel said...

Oh, and tell Favorite Son he needs to start blogging, too, whenever he catches his breath from being a newlywed. I like the way he writes. Must be genetic.

Joel said...

One more by-the-way...

I don't know if the hit counter you're using has the same feature, but I use Sitemeter, and it lets me see where the readers are coming from, both physical location and the pages that referred them. Also, Technorati will tell you who-all has you linked, which can be interesting, too. (The link is a search for you; you're more popular than you think.)

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, all.

Joel, I will let you tell the FS, via your comment here. I agree---he writes well.

And I do use both Sitemeter and Technorati. I am captivated by the information available on both those sites.

Ms. T, I think General Assembly and all the blogging stuff that happened there has been a factor in the upsurge online. It was great to meet people whose blogs I read fairly regularly and I think more of them are reading me now.