Being Recognized from the Internet


published 2023-11-21 22:49

updated 2023-11-21 23:24

I'm always shocked when people recognize me from my website. It's only just started to happen, in the past 2 or 3 months, but now occasionally I hear it from various internet strangers (Okay fine, it's happened like 3 times, maybe I shouldn't let it get to my head 😅).

It's jarring to me because I am intimately familiar with what dinky fragile website I have. Sure, part of it is intentionally breaking my website by censoring words like ▚▞░▘▙, but that's a minor fraction at best. I'm shocked that people recognize me, and perhaps more than a little embarrassed at the scruffy nature of this place (I swear I'll get around to it eventually).

Perhaps the biggest reason I'm constantly surprised is I espouse all forms of analytics here. I have no idea how many people visit this place, what the demographics are or anything even approximating surveillance. I do that on purpose. Sure I could hook up GoAccess to the server logs that are lying around to understand it, but I have not done so. I haven't been interested in doing so.

A few days ago I came across a Hank Green(?) video detailing what he's dubbed "Sarapocial" relationships. The relationship that people have with their audiences. I like the term, and I hadn't previously thought about this being a relationship because I'd written it off as not valuable. My dinky lil website filled with every inane thought I have couldn't possibly have meaningful readership, and if it did knowing that would change my perception of it.

Surprising perhaps only myself, Knowing you have an audience changes behaviour. Heck that doesn't surprise me either, it's something I've written about. I'm a privacy nut-case so it's something I've even argued is relevant to everyone when it comes to privacy.

Burying my head in the sand doesn't make this go away. I thought avoiding the relationship was better for fostering community. I didn't want an audience, I repeatedly told myself. Now, I sort of find myself with one anyway. I'm not sure what to do with that information.

The vlogbrothers have clearly mobilized their audience into an effective agent for change far more what they could have individually accomplished. It could even be argued they have a community, I'm sure some of the audience members certainly feel so. Regardless, maybe having an audience isn't always a terrible outcome.