Blogging 109 … Word Travel: combating prejudice 

travel

Mark Twain’s quote from his book, The Innocents Abroad, rings true.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

My travels overseas have shown me how little people know about Nigeria and the African continent and revealed my prejudice and penchant for stereotypes. If you never travel and watch only one TV channel, you may conclude that Europe is awash with refugees, America with gun violence, the Middle East with terrorism, and Africa with war, poverty, and disease.

But hopping on a plane, train, or bus and going miles and miles away from home can be expensive. However, we’re not limited by budget if we can read. Literacy and internet access provide cheaper alternatives to confront narrow-mindedness.

Like most of my friends, I remember travelling to faraway places as a girl through the books I read. The writers stimulated our senses as we journeyed with them, so we were familiar not only with the sights, sounds, and smells of places, but also with their peoples and culture. We lived in Mallory Towers and were Famous Five detectives.

What we enjoyed was a kind of unilateral intimacy. But now, the internet has not only made content readily available, but also fostered greater connection. In his book, Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt says that social media has taken connection to a whole new level. It makes possible bilateral intimacy—engagement. This means our virtual travel experiences are richer since we can confront a writer’s bias as well as ours in conversation. We can also give feedback and receive more insight from the contributions of others.

To me, one of the coolest things about blogging is the opportunity to travel—to journey along with readers to their worlds in the comments they leave behind. Every time I write, even on a subject I’m an authority on, I learn from the myriad perspectives readers bring. Sometimes I pour my jumbled thoughts down just waiting for readers’ comments to make sense of my thoughts.

It’s difficult to approach most topics with an ‘empty’ mind because our minds are usually already ‘full’. But if we’re willing to engage, we’ll see that we don’t have to agree with another viewpoint, sometimes all that’s needed is, “Oh, I see where you’re coming from; I’ve never walked that road before.”

Blogging has made travel—broad, wholesome, charitable (and uncharitable), views of men and things, possible for me.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sign-places-travel-information-429419/

 

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WordPress 108: Liking, Following or Not

following

So here’s the deal. I upload my 600-word article on my WordPress dashboard, use the proofreader to make last-minute corrections, and then publish. Fifty seconds later, my phone beeps; so-and-so liked your post. I’m a slow reader, but even if you’re a pro at speed-reading, you could not have read my blog post that fast. Haba!

The ‘numbers’ game, no longer holds the same fascination for me as it did two years ago when I started blogging, and yet, I’m in awe of the numbers. The number of people who engage my posts by liking, commenting, sharing, or leaving a message via my contact form is one way I measure the effectiveness of what I do—entertain, inform, inspire, or provoke thought.

I cannot ignore the numbers. When someone stumbles on my blog, he may not know what to read. If the Top Posts & Pages widget on the sidebar does not woo him, the number of likes and comments may resolve his indecision. In that sense then, a fake like is better than no like.

One evening between 8:42 and 8:44, my phone throbbed with the force of too many notifications. After the climax, so-and-so had liked nearly fifty of my blog posts. I was not flattered. It is like a man telling me how intelligent I am while staring at my chest; it just doesn’t add up.

Okay, I understand that sometimes a like on WordPress is like a poke on Facebook. It’s another way to say hello or get your attention—oh boy; that was one long poke! It is an invitation to come out and play, which I honour by visiting the Liker’s blog, as time permits. It is not an indication that so-and-so has read and digested your writing. Hmmm, very well then.

In the digital space attention is a

But there’s a nagging ring of deceit to this thing, this game of like tag. So far, I have been unwilling to like a blog post that I did not read or appreciate, as if my like has a price tag, as if anyone would know. If quality feedback is important to a blogger, then this promiscuous liking distorts perception; it certainly feeds ego.

In a way, social media is about numbers, number of likes, comments, follows, and shares, because no one wants to have a conversation by himself.  The problem with the like button on some social media sites is that the conversation with others may be illusory.

This post would have been unnecessary but for an encounter on WordPress, involving likes and follows. After reading a blog post I enjoyed, I liked it. In response, the blogger who only recently followed me informed me that a like without a corresponding follow was an insult. See me see wahala. Are we now back to high school?

Following a blogger on WordPress means that new posts from the blogger will appear in my Reader or I will receive an email notification when they publish a post. It seems dishonest to have my Reader flooded with hundreds of posts, which I will not read, but like. To me, a follow is a commitment to read your posts.

I am commitment shy. In a world awash with information, but limited time, you and I cannot read every blog post. If yours is a niche blog about DIY, for example, it would be spurious for me to follow your blog because I don’t like DIY and don’t want to get better at it.

Perhaps I will throw this textbook idealism out the window to monetize my blog or market any book I may write in future. Time will tell.  First-world problems, heh?

Be relevant

Still, the highest compliment I could pay you isn’t necessarily to follow you, but to read and engage your writing. It is the highest compliment you could pay me too.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

 

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Blogging, a Lot Like Running

blogging like running

 

My running journey provides metaphors for life. At that time of day when my neighbours court sleep and win an hour or two, the wind serves crisp air as I begin jogging. I contemplate my life’s compass until I land on lighter matters like the kinds of personal bloggers I’ve come across and how they resemble the runners who share the four-kilometre boulevard with me.

Hit and Runn-ers

These bloggers resemble that runner whose gear I like but couldn’t find at the mall. I wonder if Nike customised it for her, but swallow my Maggi-size envy before it burgeons. I swear that in a previous life, she was a rare gazelle. Hit and run bloggers excel at their craft, but they only tease us with their brilliance once in a long while, lighting our skies with their fireworks. Where will their gift take them? Some roads don’t take you anywhere and maybe, that’s okay because nowhere is a place where you can start again.

Aveng-ers

Their blogs exist to avenge their enemies. They remind me of the runner whose painful breathing heralds his presence. Punishing his thighs for a crime they did not commit, he nods and grunts as he overtakes me. One kilometre later, I find him sitting on a bench shouting, “Sh*t this, sh*t that, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” while tying his shoelaces. Determination and ugly are not synonyms. Avenger bloggers name names, places, times, and events, as they roast people on their spit over and over. They blog as frequently as they are offended.

Observ-ers

An about page and maybe one post make up the contents of their blogs. They hop from blog to blog reading, liking, and commenting. They are like the fishmongers who yell, “Kom op! Hup hup hup!” as I turn the bend, spent, and ready to head home. These perpetual encouragers put a smile on my face and help me gain a second wind. Observer bloggers cheer other bloggers all the way to the finish line.

 

bloggers I admire

 

Reblogg–ers

They are first cousins of Observ-er. An about page and maybe one blog post they actually wrote is the extent of their originality. They have found their niche just like that blond woman in her fifties who walks her three dogs every morning. She waves to every jogger and has the same kind word for those of us slow enough to hear, “Goede morgen! Succes!” Rummaging for content on blogosphere is a reblogg-er’s high. Redistributing wealth they do not possess is an elixir. Their blogs are exotic mosaics of content from essays on Marilyn Monroe to breaking news on CNN. Rebloggers would flatter other bloggers if only not every post on their blogs was a reblog.

Promis-ers

Promis-ers begin the year with the New Year resolution, I swear to blog consistently this year, so help me God! They bring to mind the fast and furious joggers who make the word high-speed redundant. In January, they published eighteen posts, serving essays, satires, how-tos, poems, and short stories. By February, they joined Mr fast and furious on the park bench gulping air and thinking, na who send me work? When Promis-ers woo us next New Year, we will embrace them, yet no one is deceived. Why work so hard to lose credibility?

Slow and Steady-ers

They are neither cheetahs nor tortoises, but pace themselves for longevity. They run like joggers whose even breathing ensure they complete six kilometres in just over an hour. Slow and steady-ers write posts that are boring, exciting, poor, average, or excellent, but their publishing schedule is predictable. They may not win the race, but they will live to run it another day because they understand their clock and resist the pressure to reset.

 

Because we’re doing life together, these patterns transcend blogging. So, you don’t have to tell me which category you fall in, tell me about other categories I missed.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Photo credit: Francois Peeters / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.