663 for Daniel


From day one of this drive around the world project, Daniel’s been a prime supporter, pusher, promoter, encourager and additional hair-brained idea generator.  But now he’s saying my blog entries are too long and what I need more is a microblog that will gain followers that can lead to a future lucrative book deal.

He says nobody is following the blog because the entries are too long but microblogging is simply not my thing.  Having Facebook (my repository of found articles), WeChat (my repository of photos) and a blog (my repository of writing) is quite enough.  I’d rather work on a journal article and learn how to conduct more substantial interviews in the process of doing qualitative research from a mentor.  Yup, it’s boring, sleepy and academic but it runs counter to the typical dissertation.  It gets to the heart of a thesis into the results while cutting out the pages of academic navel gazing of literature review.

Writing something for the purpose of gaining followers does not sit well with me.  I don’t want to be in competition with Justin Bieber or keeping up with the Kardashians.  I don’t want to be part of a popularity contest.  I don’t want to be part of unnecessary noise if I can’t produce sound worth echoing.

Before this present blog, I had a blogspot (which is blocked in China thus the switch to WordPress) with a total 13 followers acquired within the span of two years.  I call my friend Barbs, “my audience of one.”  I don’t care if only one person reads my blog.  I don’t want to write pithy 150 character lines to attract and multiply following.  If I end up with a book after four or five years of this road trip adventure, I could self-publish.  I don’t have to cut a deal with a publisher holding millions of followers as bait.  Self-publication is a viable path in this age of the internet.

I worked for a politician for three years and that makes me even more certain of my stand.  I loved the real service and program delivery part of the job but I hated the politicking and gaining of votes at questionable costs.  Fame would be a welcome by-product any day but as an aim, it doesn’t inspire my soul.

What does it mean to follow somebody anyway? A person can follow as many people and organizations as one pleases but at the end of the day, what does following get you?  If it’s a catalyst for positive change, then good but if it’s indistinguishable from a button click, then it’s meaningless.  Maybe I belong to another generation in this regard.  However, I do respect and admire how people maximized the potential of social media by toppling corrupt regimes.

I don’t want to sound condescending towards microbloggers since there are amazing and excellent microbloggers out there – journalists, authors, artists, leaders, movers and shakers.  Twitter and instagram accounts are used for much more than the promotion of products, fashion and irritatingly infinite selfies.  At this point of my life, it’s merely a case of different strokes for different folks.

A part of society’s direction also worries me.  The next generations suffer from ever shortening attention spans.  They can only know great books through summaries, philosophies through memes, classic movies through reboots and news through sound bites that sometimes deliberately mislead to get readership.  So I want no part of that trend.

Maybe someday, I will be convinced to open a twitter, instagram or weibo account and eat my words.  And I’ve been known to eat my words but I better have a compelling reason.  It has to serve something more than self-marketing.  Maybe at that juncture, I could be fighting for a more fully formed and solid advocacy for non-traditional education.  Until then, I’m happy typing away a blog nobody reads.

When one or twenty words would do, I offer Daniel six hundred sixty three.



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