When I retired from the Navy in end Feb 2010, I picked up a job on the civvie-street and discovered that people are steeped in, what is known as, corporate culture. They work, and work, and then – just to break the monotony – work some more. Your status and actual power that you command is often meausred in terms of how late you work in the nights in the office. Since I am in the Energy business, I find it rather ironical that we should ourselves be dissipating so much of energy to save the world or India from an energy crisis. So, whilst in the Navy, I worked five-day weeks, on the civvie-street I had no choice but to work six-days-in-seven like the rest of the corporate guys and gals and then spend the sabbath day with the family. This would really make mind dull, I thought to myself. The question that came to me was how to keep body and soul together in this mad race? And then I saw a little light across the tunnel of my mind: write, it said; let creative energies flow. It would rejuvenate those little brain cells that are dying due to old age and inactivity. A blog was thought by me as the equivalent of sudoku; it would give me enormous joy to do it at a leisurely pace without having to beat the world record in speed.
Strange are the ways of the bloggers, though. Little did I realise that I would get out of one race and get into another. Race is at least something orgainised with everyone hurrying in one direction. Blogging scene, I soon realised, is like a stampede and that’s how I started with Webster’s.
What went wrong? Well, how can you pinpoint what goes wrong in a stampede? However, I shall try to do a small analysis. Here goes:
Initially when I wrote a few of the cognoscenti read it and either called me or mailed me about the quality or lack thereof of my writing. One sabbath day, when I had a little time to myself, I started wondering what other blogs looked like. I typed out the word ‘blog‘ on google search and landed up with 10,560,000,000 results. I realised that if I had to go through these it is quite possible that my great grand children would have come to the end of the search. So, I tried to become narrow-minded and typed ‘Indian Blogs’. This produced 286,000,000 results. As I scrolled down, I came across something called indiblogger. I clicked on the link. Looking back, I am reminded of the second standard boy of a primary school who accidentally presses an innocuous looking red button during his school’s visit to a nuclear reactor. Just like him, I din’t know I had started something I would find it difficult to control. Indiblogger url is http://www.indiblogger.in/. Why ‘in’ I asked myself at that time? Now I know the answer: it is ‘in’ because there is no way out.
Indiblogger has Indian bloggers vying with each other to obtain popularity through a simple, scientifically proved tenet that can be expressed as: ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’. There are bloggers and fans, or writers and readers – all cyclic, all within a loop. In short, when A writes a blog, B is a reader and when B writes, A is the reader. This is a very fine arrangement since otherwise blogging is like an Indian regional political party, say, Akali Dal in Punjab; to start with there was one combined Akali Dal with one leader on top. Then, a suppressed potential leader thought of splitting the party into two, with the faction loyal to him having his name’s first letter as a suffix to the original party name, eg, Akali Dal (S). This fissionable process continued until they landed up with more parties and leaders than partymen. Fortunately, Indian bloggers have potentially as many readers as writers.
Indibloggers also remind you of two rabbits being chased by foxes; after running some distance the he-rabbit turned to the she rabbit, “Should we keep running or should we just stop for a while and try to outnumber them?” Indian bloggers are in a stampede to outnumber the others in number of posts, votes and comments. This process is simplified by indiblogger by giving you an indirank dependent upon MozRank. which “represents a link popularity score. It reflects the importance of any given web page on the Internet. Pages earn MozRank by the number and quality of other pages that link to them. The higher the quality of the incoming links, the higher the MozRank.” Then there is Alexa Rank, which brings out the global ranking of your site in comparison to other sites based on its popularity. Then there is ‘External Juice Passing marks’. Then there is frequency of posting to judge whether you are a rabbit or a fox. In case you are like me, enjoying writing at leisurely pace, indiblogger is more likely to tell you that “your blog is starting to appear neglected”. All this for a simple hobby of writing for pleasure? Hardly, sirs and ma’ams; writing and reading for pleasure is for the nincompoops. Indibloggers behave like drivers in India; the idea is to somehow be ahead of the driver adjacent to you. Now, at this juncture if someone were to ask the indibloggers or the drivers as to where are they headed, you are likely to receive he response, “Why should we worry about that? I started at a ranking of A; and now, after three years, I am at 2A. I must be getting somewhere.” Philosophically and culturally we are Indians; for us the journey is more important than the destination.
The result of the stampede is that bloggers ‘promote‘ other blogs and ‘comment’ and ‘vote’ as if it is a contest or election. The idea is to offer a tit for tat. It is not rare to find fellow-bloggers commenting on your blog without reading it at all and – this is a must – leaving the url of their own article in the comment to enable you to scratch their back too.
The dynamics of the race or the stampede are such that it is sacrilege to question it. It is like telling a driver who cuts lanes that it won’t help. For 37 years I was in the Navy and I had to make peace with ranks and promotions. Indiblogger has brought it home to me that others care about these even more than we did. And, most indibloggers are more at sea than we were.
Many blogs actually appear like the social media such as facebook. The blog post is as small as the status on facebook, followed by dozens of comments by friends and back-scratching hopefuls, as if repeating the words of the popular song from the 1973 Hindi movie:
A: Mujhe kuchh kehna hai (I have something to say).
B: Mujhe bhi kuchh kehna hai (I too have something to say)
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