The Echo Chamber
However, blogging can have a downside [called] a “clustering effect,” where people only link to like-minded sites, creating “an echo chamber.” –From Welcome to their Worlds (via Kalilily.net)
Actually, linking to unlike-minded sites is pretty easy.
The hard thing is commenting on them without sounding like you’re barging into a clique-y conversation as a raving idiot. Whenever I encounter a new, interesting blog, I’m very hesitant to comment. Usually I read a while before I work up the nerve to say anything. This is because I know people aren’t like me. I’m always happy to get comments (whether the commenters agree with me or not is irrelevant), but that doesn’t mean that other people are.
I’m more comfortable with sites that have a small to non-existent following. But maybe this comfort is part of my egoism; I’m a lot more confident that what I say will be read by the blogger. On sites that have a large core following, I am most likely not to comment. Sometimes it’s because I feel lost in the shuffle, that everyone will ignore me as the stupid outsider. And other times, I don’t want to look like a has-been who’s desperately trying to look cool.
Naturally, I think about the comments on this site. It would be outright lying if I said I didn’t care, but I’m not going to alter my writing habits just to garner conversation. But I do wonder: why do people comment on some posts and not others? Are some posts more interesting than others? Do I sound like an idiot or a pretentious ass in the posts that don’t get any comments? Or are the posts so self-contained that commenting on them would be merely extraneous?
Is the right audience not finding me? I have no idea what my “right” audience is. Maybe it doesn’t exist. But the audience that does exist is linked intimately with the blogroll–which admittedly are filled with people who at first glance are as unlike me as you can get. Of course, I could fill my blogroll with the sites of other students, but how interesting is it to read about college life and academia all the time?