Friday, February 15, 2013

I Can Haz An Audience?

It's Friday night, so you're not paying attention to me and I can get a bit meta here.

I recently interviewed Will Brooker for my MTV Geek column. Part 1 of the interview went up tonight; part 2 comes out next week. Will seemed pretty jazzed, and I think that was for a few reasons. First, his new webcomic launches Monday so the timing here works well. Second, I believe it's the longest/most substantive interview he's done so far that's tied to his new comic. Third, and this is the one that I didn't really catch until today, that it would give him some decent visibility to a lot of people being on MTV's website and all.

Actually, what he pointed out was that if the interview was sent out in a Tweet through the official MTV Geek account, that would be "a whole lotta followers". Probably more than he's got looking at his Twitter account, at any rate.

I generally gave up on looking for a wide audience many years ago. I've been online in various capacities since the mid-1980s (I started on a 300 baud modem!) and whatever I wrote or posted, regardless of the subject or forum, was responded to with the sound of crickets. Even when I was asking direct questions, I'd get nothing. When I was moderating message boards, the surest way I knew how to kill a thread was to add my two cents on the matter. It was a bit disenchanting for a while, of course, especially after spending so many years feeling ostracized in person, but all those years spending Friday nights in my room by myself reading comics paid off in a way. In the physical world, I'd gotten used to just doing my own thing and not really being bothered by anyone else, so it was a relatively smooth transition online as well. I could do what I wanted in my own little corner of the internet, and nobody paid much heed.

But when Will pointed out the "whole lotta followers" thing, it dawned on me that I'd never really looked into what traffic comes to outlets I don't own. I think I asked my editor what the circulation of Jack Kirby Collector was once and he said he didn't like to divulge those numbers. It never occurred to me to ask about MTV.

It turns out that MTV Geek has over 51,000 Twitter followers. They've got 280,000 Likes on Facebook.

That doesn't mean all of those people read my column every week, of course, but I never realized that that many people are being sent messages to check out something I've written.
I don't really have a point here. I mean, I know that using the internet means there are potentially millions of people who could read my work, but I've spent decades assuming that I didn't say anything more than a few hundred people might care about. And it's still possible that's all the traffic my MTV Geek columns get. But tonight I'm a little more aware of the audience looking back at me on the stage here. They've dimmed the spotlight and raised the houselights enough that I can see I'm not playing to an empty room. I just hope I don't succumb to a bout of stage fright.

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