Today marks the 100th blog I’ve written. It seemed like a good time for a little reflection on you. That’s right: you. Who are you and what do you want?
One of the interesting elements of writing this blog has been experiencing its growth not just in total numbers, but in the diversity of its readers. To say that the readers of this blog are an interesting blend is like saying there are a few bricks in the sidewalks of Gay Street. Initially, I thought my audience might be people who live downtown or people who might like to move here, but weren’t certain for a variety of reasons – such as no nearby grocery store. It makes sense that people who are from here might also be interested. All that’s been true, but . . .
While I can’t identify many of the types of readers I have, consider some that I can:
The Healing Community: I wrote a blog, early on about a memorial held on Market Square. I was moved by the experience and I suppose that showed in the tone of the article. The group holding the memorial included massage therapists, meditation teachers and others concerned with wellness and well-being. They found my blog, sent it to each other, put up links and suddenly I had readers from this group all over the country.
Neo-Nazis: Who would have predicted this one? When the neo-Nazi rally hit Knoxville I blogged about it pretty extensively. I devoted many hours to taking photographs, editing and selecting the best of them and writing the blogs – there were three by the time I was able to move on. What I didn’t expect was that neo-Nazi websites would link to my blog – apparently because they like to see their pictures just like the rest of us – it certainly couldn’t have been anything I said. They all, helpfully, labeled mine a non-racist website. Still, they came and they return from time to time. That post continues to be, by far, my most-read.
International Readers: I had no idea this would happen. Are they ex-pats? Could people all over the world really be that interested in Knoxville? I’m not shocked that there might be readers from England, Canada and, say, Mexico, but Egypt, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates? Turkey, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam? Macedonia, Latvia, Russia and the Ukraine? I’ve had readers from Israel and today one from the Tulkarm, in the Palestinian Territory. I wish I had the key to peace Middle East to blog for those guys.
I’ve had readers tell me they were disappointed that I didn’t want the city to buy every sculpture and others say they share my opinions about the various pieces of art. I’ve had readers tell me I’m providing an important service to downtown and others that I’m writing fluff, wasting people’s time and I obviously am an attention hungry . . . well, not nice person.
So why does this matter? I think it matters because that’s a pretty diverse group of people who might not have an intersecting point beyond this blog. That could produce some interesting interaction in the future. It also matters because, as I express my opinions, it isn’t likely that everyone from Cordoba, Argentina to Ulsan, Korea, from Knoxville’s hip-hop community to its civic leaders, from the Healers to the Nazis will agree on every point, but it’s possible that, as we respect each other’s opinions, it could encourage some thoughtful discussion, and that would be a good thing.