Thursday, April 11, 2013

If a tree falls in the forest...

...And no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? This is a question that generations of people have asked, and there has never been a definitive answer. I'm not looking for the answer, I would rather update the question for the twenty-first century. If I share a post on Facebook, and nobody takes the time to read it, does my opinion matter?

Anybody with an Internet-connected computer, smartphone, or tablet can be a blogger. There could be half a billion bloggers just in the English-speaking world. Even Twitter is considered blogging, albeit "microblogging".

If Tumblr is your blogging site of choice, you will see a lot of posts pertaining to various facets of social justice. You'll see everything from race equality posts to feminist posts to disability equality and GLBTQ equality support and many more "hot button topics". The "issue" with Tumblr, for lack of a better way to say it, is that these posts are strewn between posts about TV shows and pictures that contain random quotes which people re-post either because they can relate or purely because they laughed at them. There are also too many "guilt trip" posts. We've all seen them, and we're all probably "going to hell" because of that one post we chose to ignore rather than reblog, or that one we chose not to share on Facebook. I'd rather just use my own judgment when I decide whether to like or share a post on either site. If I like it, I'll "like" it too. Because people subscribe to the false sentiments in posts like this, blogs and Facebook pages are filled with them, but then the posts that are intended to start legitimate discussions or spread a thought-provoking message are obscured.

If you'd rather write where your opinion can be taken more seriously (because it's not appearing between a post about Anime and a Futurama Fry meme image), you can come to a site like Blogger or Wordpress. The catch here is that these sites don't have the reach that Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter do. As of July 15, 2009, Facebook had 250 million users. In just over three years, that number quadrupled. In October, 2012, Facebook hit 1 billion users. Twitter has about half as many users as Facebook, and Tumblr only has about 170 million users. That site also says that Wordpress has 74 million blogs. Google chooses not to disclose how many Blogger users there are. I could find followers quickly on Twitter, but 140 characters does not serve the purpose. If I wanted to write this on Twitter, I would hit the character limit before I got halfway through the first paragraph. Ignoring the subject of this post, a tweet that hit the character limit would read "...And no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? This is a question that generations of people have asked, and there has never been ". Even if I had 500 followers on Twitter, I'd have 500 people telling me that tweet is nonsensical and a waste of time.

My best bet is to finish writing this, share it on my Facebook page, and then just hope it doesn't get lost in random status updates and guilt trip posts. There is always the chance that the exact opposite would happen.   Maybe I have caught someone's eye; maybe someone out there likes my ideas enough to take them further than the web. Just like running for office or getting a job, I would need to know the right people. I don't have many connections like that; if I'm lucky, I can use the theory of six degrees of separation and it reaches someone who has the means to help me take it to a wider audience. It would be nice to become famous because of a blog post, but fame would be just a bonus. I would rather see my thoughts have a positive effect on a community. I'm just one of over a billion people on Facebook, and I'm an even smaller drop in the bucket that is the whole of the world wide web. I can track how many people "like" or share a post after I link to it on Facebook, but maybe I made them feel guilty. Maybe they shared my post to add their counterpoint. Maybe you've had an epiphany while reading this but you've forgotten about it because I rambled.

I'm not specifically on a mission for fame, but on the other hand, I'm tired of being just a drop in the bucket. There has to be some middle ground somewhere. I want to be an activist, not just some guy with random ideas and a computer. I want people to see that this isn't just me telling people that the world owes me a better life. The world doesn't "owe" me, but I could use the help. That is why I write what I write. Maybe somebody will read it. Maybe they can help me, or maybe they are in the same situation or a very similar one. I need an opportunity, but I'm not the only one. Maybe this isn't the post that brings the publicity I'm looking for, but then again, maybe it will bring publicity to my future or past blog entries. All that being said, there's not much left to do but ask again, maybe a bit differently this time: if I share a post on Facebook, even if all my friends take the time to read it, does my opinion matter? I can only hope I'm making a twenty-first century "sound".