Friday, March 23, 2012

My Last Word on Being Influential

In a comment on "SLebrities: Narcissistic Attention Whores or Valuable Thought-Leaders?" Yordie Sands wrote:
I've read this post a couple times, plus the comments. I think Ron Blechner's comments rang true with me. Maybe you start out just writing for yourself but as soon as you discover you have an audience, you have to recognize you are influancing someone. Sure you can start out desparately seeking attention and maybe you get some, but if your work isn't of any value you'll never influance anyone. I do understand that not everyone is seeking recognition, but it comes with the territory I think.
Very interesting thoughts.

From my own experience, blogging feels very different once you have an audience. I had maybe a dozen or two daily readers for the first couple of months blogging here. It was very much my Second Life diary. It freaked the hell out of me when NWN linked to me out of the blue and I became something of a public figure overnight.

For the next couple of years, I tried very consciously to be a positive influence for readers experimenting with virtual identity. I wanted to inspire people to think expansively about identity and use virtual world experience to shed light on atomic world life.

From very early on, I also tried to offer a non-dogmatic perspective in ongoing controversies about Linden Lab's management of Second Life. Sometimes I sided with my fellow bloggers. Other times I took a contrary position, like during the blogger's strike in protest of the trademark policy.

Four years later, I'm a lot less idealistic about the potential of avatar identity to change the world. And I'm even less optimistic about whether the Second Life community can impact Linden Lab's management of Second Life.

So have I given up on the idea of being influential? Fuck no!

Being influential isn't about having the power to change people's minds or alter the course of events. It's about offering inspiration and support to those of like mind and compatible interest.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've been very influenced by some of my fellow bloggers and social networkers. For instance:
  • Crap Mariner influenced me through his tireless 100 Word Stories work, which inspired me to create dozens of stories, comics and videos. 
  • Whiskey Day influenced me through both her brilliant tweets and deeply personal blog posts. She inspired me to dig deeper and risk more vulnerability in my writing. 
 In short, I know it's possible to be influential because I am influenced. And I am grateful.


Mike (Binary Rhyme) Heffernan said...

Awesome observations, BG, and bang on the money methinks.

It's an old scientific adage that you can't observe something without changing it - and I think this is doubly true - but an audience does not a narcissist make. The word is often bandied about without any real understanding of the syndrome.

The descent into narcissism is more about hiding one's true self behind a projected image, designed to charm, seduce and secure devotion. (It's a matter of degree - we all have a healthy tendency to maintain a public persona vs. private self)

From what I've seen of your efforts, the examples you cite, and the use of the word "influence" vs "admiration" - I think it's safe to say narcissism isn't your cup of tea. :)

Yordie Sands said...

This has been an interesting thread you started and are closing, Botgirl. I think you caused a lot of us to look at this issue, but I've struggled with it in the past too.

It's that discovery that your readers are coming from places you never even imagined that changes things I think. I even found the whole tone of my blog has changed as my readers show up from different parts of the world.

I'd like to take credit for my remarks but I think they were just the offshoot of looking at what you and others had said and adding my own little bit to the mix.

Btw, Mr Crap has influance me also. In fact, the format I'm using with my serialized fiction wat "influanced" by his 100 Word Stories. "Keep it brief" baby! hehe

Quen McLillian said...

In case you care, I like the way you raise questions and you're often weird. Sometimes, your posts do not even make any sense to me. Such things tickle my synapses. My interest is mainly in the psychology behind virtual identity. I dislike social networks or trendy technology tho.

I can't remember, where I know this blog from but your Maslow chart draw my attention. Took forever to find but here it is: Such things keep me thinking.