This is the final installment in a five-part series on why I blog.
Five. I experiment. I speculate. I follow a beat. I lie. And I am doing all of this before some sort of audience of readers. But who are they? What do they want? Why do any of them keep coming back? As I’ve said before, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll get more clarity in the next year once my blog officially launches. But for now, consider this: you are part of the experiment, a fellow voyager on the integral beat, and a co-conspirator in the lies.
I don’t know who you are, but here’s what I imagine about this blog’s audience. You are probably among the 20 to 25 percent of the US population that falls into one of these three categories: pluralist, integralist, or higher. I do not consider hard core atheists and anti-spiritual secular humanists part of my target audience, though I believe many of them are open enough to find some value in the contents of this blog.
(And if you aren’t in my target audience–trust me, it’s often flamingly obvious in your interactions–well, you’re definitely welcome to visit. I may not even delete the Bible verses about the abomination of homosex you sometimes sprinkle in my comment boxes, but only because I think it can be educational for my actual audience to be reminded by your ignorance of the pathos of the world. But just so we’re all clear, I’m not writing for you. I may choose to listen to your feedback if you care to share any, or I may not, but I almost certainly won’t respond. Every publication has an audience, a target market, a home base. You’re not mine, so read quietly or you might hear me saying a little lie: “Go away please.”)
I check my blog site stats regularly, and I admit to enjoying positive trends in my traffic and fretting when I seem to be losing readers. When I first started blogging, I went through a phase of checking on my traffic daily and obsessing over who was linking to me and plotting strategies for getting more links so as to rise in the blogging ecosystem. My first blog got several tens of thousands of visitors over about a year. This blog has received just over 50,000 page views in its beta period (since May 2005). Now I’m pursuing the opposite strategy: I actually prefer to fly “under the radar screen” and do not actively promote the visibility of this blog. Perhaps in the future, when my book is published, I will take a different approach. But for now it suits me. I’m naturally quite shy. It’s easier for me to speak authentically and be more experimental when I know that my readership is in the dozens, or low hundreds, and not in the thousands.
I am envisioning that the audience for Rising Upwill consist of two distinct groups: (1) persons familiar with Ken Wilber’s integral theory and possibly the work of other integral writers, and (2) persons who are curious about integral, not turned off at first sight by a little jargon, and are willing to check this blog out enough to see if there’s anything worthwhile they can take away. And that’s it. In the past, I’ve thought that liberal religionists or political progressives who are not familiar with integral theory might be interested enough to become regular readers, but that idea has never materialized so far as I can tell. For whatever reason, they just haven’t connected with my writing. They’re definitely in my target audience so I hope that changes, but the fact is that at this point in time, they’re not my actual audience. Therefore, I won’t change the way I write this blog in an effort to appeal to them and I don’t seek out links on their blogs.
Perhaps I use too much jargon for their taste. Some critics have suggested that integral writers should always refrain from using jargon and should speak instead in “everyday language.” To such critics, I say “good luck with that” and “when you start taking your own advice, let me know.” I’ve previously explained why that’s not wise. More importantly, it’s just not much fun as a writer. And why blog if it’s tedium and not fun? It would be horribly irritating to have to censor myself or refrain from discussing integral concepts in order to try to “convert the masses,” no matter what the cost in intelligibility by the uninitiated. It doesn’t take long to learn the basis of all the jargon I use on this blog. I’ve summarized everything in six blog posts of under a thousand words each. If a reader is too lazy to spend five to ten minutes learning about STEAM, they need to go back to their Beavis and Buttheadre-runs. They really do. Neutering my writing is simply not an option.
You’re my audience. If I had zero audience, I wouldn’t blog (I’d write a private journal.) But I blog so I can interact, share, commune, build friendships, engage in the sort of interactions that makes life more meaningful and fulfilling. If what I’ve said about my intentions for Rising Up in 2006 appeals to you, do come and check this blog out to see what emerges. And until I blog again, Happy New Year… and most especially, Happy Bridge of Light.
Note: You can find Joe Perez's new writings on WE Spirituality.