Mr. Lonely

As I predicted a few months ago, the mainstream media is now posting what bloggers would call “link bait”. Aware of the value of incoming links, a number of Canadian newspapers, such as the Globe and Mail, ran a Canadian Press interview with U of C professor Michael Keren.

Prof. Keren was promoting his new book, “Blogosphere: The New Political Arena” of which the most prescient takeaway is –

…individuals who bare their souls in blogs are isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world.

To say my friend Mitch Joel doesn’t agree would be an understatement. He rolls out the big stats to point out how many people his blog talks to. I’m envious.

Mitch also believes more people read his blog each month than will buy the good prof’s book. Ever.

For those who want the abridged version that would be more than 20,000 people, plus how ever many millions he has reading his RSS feed. Like I said, I’m jealous.

I’d love to jump on the bandwagon with Mitch and many other bloggers I know and slate Professer Keren. But I won’t.

I actually agree, to a point. There are more than 55 million blogs out there, according to Technorati. There are probably 250,000 decent blogs that actually get read. That leaves some…54.75m bloggers who don’t get read.

Sure some bloggers are part of a tightly knit community but, usually, they’re going to be the ones who get how to be social. They’ll inantely understand how to link out, to leave comments on other blogs, how to trackback and the importance of being social.

If you’re a social being off-line, you’ll be a social being online. You’ll interact with people and form relationships. If you have little to no social skills in real life, chances are the relationships you form online will just as fleeting as the ones you enjoy offline.

So…there will be a vast majority of people out there who fit into Michael Keren’s definition of a blogger. But there are also people like Mitch who get it, and those who get it, rise to the top.

As for me, I like to think there’s a small community of people who read BMBY, who comment regularly and who I have and will meet. I even had an Aussie blogger stay in my appartment. We chatted, we drank beer, we watched sports and we talked social media. We had (although not in a biblical sense) a very real relationship.

From my perspective, Toronto has a very active media/marketing/social media scene and I’ve made some very real friends, gotten a very real job and had some extremely worthwhile experiences thanks to this blog. I’m not lonely or isolated. But then I’ve never been in Second Life.

Is Keren right? The answer, as always with social media, is yes and no.

Now with the appropriate video (and a new title)

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5 Responses to Mr. Lonely

  1. Mitch Joel says:

    I can’t disagree with your post Ed, but it’s frustrating that this type of news gets cover story play. It diminishes the power of social media and citizen journalists… and the online world as a powerful media channel. You know, the type of people who are reporting the real news and calling “bullshit” countless times when mainstream media hides, changes or manoeuvres when they’re not 100% transparent.

    Articles like this one give credibility to the multiples of people who Blog about cats verses what really gets and has substantial traffic and impact.

    I’d like to see an article about the technology, news, sports, classified industry showing the impact that Blogs (or the Web) has had on their respective industries.

    I think a great cover story would be about how craigslist is killing the traditional newspaper business model.

    It’s irresponsible to put an item like that on page one. It’s not fair to those who are using a Blog to connect (in some way, shape or form) and it’s especially unfair to lump in the thousands of amazing and insightful people who are Blogging specifically to connect, grow, share and learn.

  2. Jackie says:

    Great post, Ed. I agree that with social media there is very much a gray area. There are people that use these tools who are “lonely” and “isolated” and take living in a virtual world a bit too far. Rather than going for that story angle, which seems to be the most common route at this point, I’d be more interested in a story on how social media is connecting individuals in the real world.

    For instance, over the course of a year I’ve started conversations with people from all over the world through social networking — and have made very real connections with these people. Our mutual Aussie blogger friend and I had a similar conversation about this topic IN person the other night.

    For me, it boils down to being a realist. There are people who use technology to further dettach from reality, but there are also people who use it to connect in ways previously unavailable. I think the experience is what you make of it.

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  4. Dan says:

    Since there are millions of bloggers, there will be a vast difference in personalities, backrounds, etc. So how can they all be isolated and lonely? With web 2.0, I think the people of the world are becoming even more connected, not isolated!

  5. Lord Matt says:

    At a guess I’d say your blog is not only read but book marked (at least by me).

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