Law Of Mutuality Extended: Like For A Like Or Read For A Read…!

 


Why should I go on writing? This question has been haunting me for quite some time, and this led to an unintentional break in the first week of this month when, in a very unprofessional way, I left the phrase ‘Budget Tomorrow!’ in my last post in January unexplored and unwritten! Well, I am a humble being and never daydreamed about becoming a great writer what they call ‘bestselling’ and all that. Indeed, I had written quite a few ‘solicited’ articles/papers in both English and Assamese newspapers/periodicals over the decades. However, I discovered that in such ‘ventures’ the merit part gets thrown out of the window and only influences/contacts/references matter. Therefore, I had not been a great success in that line. As a writer you send something to a publication in high spirit and hope, thinking that your item had some merit thanks to opinions of a few of your learned friends, for at least a response, but eventually when it sinks in a bottomless well with not even a rejection letter you feel disillusioned. And as an inevitable consequence in my case, I opened this blog and started writing and publishing on whatever I wanted and loved. Now, the question mentioned above becomes rather an existential crisis as it concerns this platform too.

 

A writer is as normal a social animal as any other social animals inhabiting this planet. If s/he does something or writes something or sings a song or paints a picture or comment upon something a minimum of feedback or response is naturally expected by her/him. Like in my case, I’ve been writing on my site for nearly 14 years, quite regularly; but I hardly ever came across any feedback from my ‘readers’ which raised doubts in my mind about the nature of the ‘readers’. Are they genuine readers or casual surfers or just bots? I don’t know. I get a good number of hits daily, but no responses, forget about appreciation or interaction. Even known genuine friends or kin, barring of course a few sincere ones, just don’t bother to take even a look. Only for a brief period, years back, we constituted a group of like-minded bloggers/writers and made kind of a ‘deal’ to read and comment upon each other’s blogs. So, for a few months there had been a flurry of mutual commenting and appreciating.

 

That kind of a ‘deal’ brings us to the subject-matter of this piece: the Law of Mutuality. As explained in an earlier piece this law of mutuality used to influence only relationships; but now, this affects everything possible on planet earth: from the abysmally growing social media to all forums or groups or anything online.  Recently we discussed with a few musical buddies about the fact that the class of ‘innocent listeners’ has been gravely threatened by the mushrooming growth of ‘singers’ with almost everyone turning into a singer thanks to the social media and other platforms. Unfortunately, the same syndrome is appearing in the field of writing, perhaps any creative field for that matter, too, with almost all ‘innocent readers’ converting themselves into ‘writers/authors’ thanks, again, to the social media and also the mushrooming growth of self-publishing platforms. This has been an emerging conflict of providers vs receivers.

 


So then, it just amounts to the most needed action on your part: you must be hyperactive on the social media and other similar digital forums, donating away as many likes as possible on your friends’ creative works to generate some likes for you too. In both cases, however, it doesn’t really matter if you really go through the works in full. Most regrettably, in most of the writers’ forums too you must manufacture as many comments/reviews as possible on the writings of others to generate some comments/reviews for your items. To make it worse for a starter, the most successfully interactive stalwarts don’t even bother about your friend requests, and anyone would definitely like to expand one’s network after joining a platform. If you lie low, your works would die down slowly, finally forcing you to leave the site, utterly disappointed.

 

Honestly speaking, I don’t have the time to indulge in such digital exercises to create some artificial interest in my writings, even after I retired from my service two years back with the firm resolve to become a full-time writer. I devote my available time to thinking, writing, marketing-shopping for the household, kitchen help, some news viewing and limited socializing. That leaves me with no time to embark on a spree of mindless liking and commenting/reviewing on writings that I really like or not. So, I’ve indeed emerged as loser in this ‘digital race for attention’. I published my first book on humor while in service and then the second book in the same genre after retirement, and one of these books has already sunk in the bottomless well with the other steadily marching in the same direction.

 

But of course, genuine listeners or readers still exist in large numbers. Although the traditional book-reading or buying albums has declined the new generations have been doing reading-watching on mobile/tab/computer screens. As is very natural, they go for the works of the established ‘bestselling celebrities’ rather than turning any attention to less-than-mediocre cum digital-offenders like this writer. They are right. And I’m not complaining or bursting out in frustration either. This is the way modern times move, and it’d not change even if you are honestly unaware if you were a mediocre or poor or merit-less writer, because even you closest friends won’t tell you if your work is good or bad. The way out for you is go on a paying spree: pay for the self-publishing firms; pay for publicity; pay the emerging class of reviewers; pay for awards, in most cases; pay for participating in book fairs; pay for promoting your profile and writings in various forums; and so on. Even then you cannot be assured of attention unless you do indulge yourself fully in the ‘like for a like or read for a read’ competition.

 

I do, indeed, the most basic parts. Like after I publish something in my site, I share it on the very limited platforms that I still stick to for sheer survival, and the I do get the expected ‘views’, but no responses as usual. At times, I also share it in my friends’ groups; but, again, hardly any comments apart from some views that I can gather from my stats.

 

Therefore, all these ‘issues’ have contributed to the emergence of the question raised at the outset. My prolonged introspection on this tells me that I cannot possibly quit my writing as it’s been my passion since childhood days. It may get sparse or even rare, but I’ll go on. My argument also remains: I’m still giving you funny, thought-provoking, sports-related, political etc. pieces on a regular basis, totally free of cost. If you still prefer to not read or respond, it’s your problem, not mine. Right? Anyway, I’m sure this this piece too won’t earn any response! Ha! Ha! 


(PS: Of course, I've learnt from my limited digital experience to put my own photo to garner more attention!!)

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