The Herd Mentality

I use to check my stats daily until it become an obsession, especially during the glory days when the number of visits was steadily climbing – thanks to multiple miscarriages and failed fertility treatments. Oh, Angst. You are an addictive mistress.

After Aitch came home safely and I started carrying on about how cute she was and how easy things were and generally happy, visitors weren’t as many, but I was already weaning myself away from the stats. It kinda sucks, but heh, I guess that means my life wasn’t dramatic enough which meant I was somehow settling into a new normal.

I do check my wordpress stats when I log in. It’s not as comprehensive, but it clues me in to some of the more common search hits I get, many looking for c-section scar pictures. Why? Who knows. During my review of my stats, I realized with a start that the number of visits to my blog on Friday were the highest since moving to this new blog. Over 10x higher than average at approximately 250. Yes, my blog only gets about 25 hits a day. Go ahead and compare and gloat. A vast majority of them came from Stirrup Queens because my post about the MM was linked under Miscellaneous Support and Celebrations in her Lost and Found.

I think that is amazing how so many came by simply upon the request of one incredibly influential blogger. But…I have to admit that I was a bit befuddled by those numbers in addition to being humbled. Less than a handful of all those people who followed Mel’s link left a comment. Why would 250 people take the time to follow a link, arrive at my blog and then only 2% of those people take those extra seconds to leave a comment?

Is this just virtual rubber necking? Was the news of my melanoma nothing more than a fender bender, bloggystyle, where there are plenty of lookers but only one or two good samaritans willing to actually stop and find out if any help is needed? Maybe it’s because LFCA is usually reserved for reproductive-related news and my MM wasn’t anything that they could relate to? Was it simply because once they read the news, I had bored their brains into stillness and they were too incoherent to comment?

Now honestly, it’s not they didn’t comment because those that did are my friends and the ones I care about, but why in the world would you follow a  link knowing that it’s a link to someone who is needing a little virtual handholding and NOT be willing to follow through? I know for me, if there’s a link to a blog and if I know I just am not strong enough to give, I don’t even click it. That happens a lot to me when it’s a link about a miscarriage. I am no longer able to relive those painful memories…but that’s not possible in this case, right? All 250 visits from Stirrup Queen’s weren’t from people also suffering or recovering from MM, could they be?

So do you follow the links to other blogs when it’s a call for support? Once you follow that link, don’t you feel some kind of obligation to comment? This phenomenon has happened before and I’ve always wanted to ask, but haven’t for fear of sounding as if I’m complaining about being linked to, but damn, don’t you find that curious behavior?

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22 thoughts on “The Herd Mentality”

  1. If I follow the link, I generally do comment…however, sometimes I follow the link and find that–oh, man, my boss has gotten back from lunch (!)…so, um…I have to close out. But, usually if that happens, I come back to the link later and comment (but, with life being the way it is…sometimes that doesn’t happen). I actually did not see the link to your news, but I also follow you on FB, so I commented there. 🙂

  2. I always comment if I follow the link to someone in need of some bloggy love.

    But, then again I have an opinion on just about everything and don’t know how to ignore an opportunity to spread my vast knowledge, or give a little hug 🙂

  3. I usually follow links but rarely comment. Don’t know why but I feel weird leaving a comment. Like I’m some weird person eavesdropping on a conversation. Don’t know why I feel that way. I never comment unless I have time to go back and read multiple posts from that linked blog first.

  4. I’m sorry I haven’t hit your blog – or kept up to date on Facebook. I have been pre-occupied with my own stuff. I am devastated to hear that your mole was cancerous. I HATE it. Cancer sucks. I hope you have a great oncologist. If you need to actually talk to someone who has dealt with cancer, you can get my phone and stuff off of Facebook.

  5. Wow, I so thought you were way out of my league, but I also average about 25 hits a day… I feel so important now, like I’m in the same league with Yo-yo Mama writer of awesome outline style trip summaries! (Yes, I really liked that post that much.)

    To answer your question, when I click through on a link that is specifically asking for support, I comment. I suck at commenting regularly on all of the blogs I read, but when support is being solicited or just seems appropriate, commenting is just the right thing to do. I have also seen record high hits which correspond with 1 or 2 comments from non-regulars which is baffling. But, like you said, it’s the regulars that really matter.

  6. I usually do not click through unless I either have a relationship with the person or some experience with the situation. And if I *do* click over, I try to think of something to say, even if it’s the same thing every one else said.

    And the reason I don’t click through otherwise is that it feels to me too much like rubber-necking.

    By the way, I really like your new FB profile photo. Apropos of nothing.

  7. Hell, I have clicked and not commented. I think that people will click over not to gawk in so much as they are simply curious to read the full story. Perhaps there is something in the tiny blurb that they connect to and they want to read more. Sometimes, people don’t know what to say. Sometimes they read it on a device that isn’t conducive to leaving comments such as an iPhone, but they intend to come back later…and forget.

    I think it’s also hard because there are those who like the idea of people standing with them, even if they’re silent. And there are people who don’t want people to come over at all if they’re not going to say something. And people read both thoughts on the Internet and don’t know what to do. Should they click over? Should they not? Should they comment? Should they not?

    Me? I don’t care if people come by and don’t say anything, but I’d be right pissed if people who have treated me like crap were wringing their hands over my news. I’ll take support from strangers and support from friends.

  8. I’m one of those who may click but may not necessarily comment. I only decide to comment if I feel like I can continue to give support in the long term. It doesn’t seem right to me to comment one time and never go back to the blog again. Having said that, I have found that there have been a few times when I click over, don’t comment but find myself thinking about the post and going back and following. In that case, I do eventually comment and become an active reader. In fact, I think that is how I ended up following you, what maybe 2 or 3 blogs back?

  9. I think I commented on your post. It was either here or Facebook. One reason why I may not comment here is because I sometimes worry about saying the right thing.

    I don’t go to a site if someone links. Unless I sort of know the blog through association. Mainly because what good does it do? How comforting is it for some random stranger to stop by and say ‘sorry’ and then leave? It wasn’t comforting for me, it’s not like these folks keep reading. But that’s why I don’t read LFCA either. Either I know the news and have already commented or it would be a straight up rubber necking.

    I feel that the reason so many people visit during the rough times is for one of three reasons: they care an are there to support you. These are the people that continue to comment when things get better.
    They like to commiserate. Misery loves company and all that.
    They want to feel better about their own circumstances and so want to read about somebody else’s life being ‘worse’ than theirs.

    At any rate, you are stuck with me 🙂 good or bad times.

    1. “How comforting is it for some random stranger to stop by and say ‘sorry’ and then leave?”

      Excellent point, Heather! I have to admit that is why I sometimes don’t comment in similar situations especially if I have no intentions of returning, as someone pointed out earlier. So because of that, I have stopped following links as often as I use to. So if both of these thoughts are accurate for many others: being a stranger and not returning, then why would they follow the link in the first place? I really think it’s human nature to window shop on misery.

  10. I sometimes won’t comment on a LFCA post that I’ve clicked through to. Usually it’s someone I don’t know at all so not a commenter anywhere I comment. Sometimes it’s because I have nothing helpful to say and I’m sorry or I hope things resolve soon seems a pathetic response. Mostly I’ll say something but often I won’t go back to the blog so it feels a bit of a drive by.

    1. Oh, I don’t worry about stats skewed by the readers. I just am wondering about the visits I KNOW happened; the 250. Plus, those that are on a reader already knew about the diagnosis and wouldn’t have used the LFCA link, who are the ones I’m curious about.

  11. I recently clicked over and didn’t comment and partly because after reading the incredibly sad story I wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m sorry.” didn’t seem enough and there were already over 100 of those. I was afraid to say too much and end up saying something meant to help but hurts. AND, my biggest reason was I didn’t want to follow the person.

    I don’t believe in stopping in for the dramatic bit and then never coming back. If I am going to offer support (especially with something traumatic) I feel like it needs to last longer than 1-4 posts. Cause even when the Sun starts to shine again there are still rainy days that pop up and someone needs a hand held. If that makes sense?

    It may sound cold that I didn’t want to follow the person, but it wasn’t about them. I’m sure they are lovely. I just wasn’t in a place to take on their emotions and go through it with them. I felt bad clicking away but I did.

    Most of the time I do comment.

  12. Hi there,

    I’m here through Edenland — I loved the title of your blog and was intrigued by the title of your post — and though I do have Mel on my reader I’m not always good about following up on the LFCA or commenting as much as I used to and so I didn’t see that posting. If its a call for support and I clicked over I would definitely leave a comment. Absolutely.

    So, even though I just stumbled here this morning by accident I wanted to leave a comment and let you know I was here — and to tell you that a stranger is thinking of you.

  13. I, too, have clicked onto someone’s site intending to comment and then not commented. Usually because there were a lot of comments, or when reading them others had expressed everything I would have said anyway. When you are new to a site it can feel lame or even rubbernecky to go “um, ah, me too…”.

  14. I read stuff all the time and don’t comment, but as for the specific problem you mention, I have a rule where I do not read new things anymore (mostly) so I wouldn’t click over to a new blog. But back when I did, whether I would comment would depend on a ton of stuff. When I have been linked to on that same site, I get a ton of traffic and a few comments. Some people are just readers, I guess.

  15. While I don’t condone checking your stats every day (it’s maddening!), keep in mind that TONS of us read blogs on feed readers. Which don’t show up on your hits unless we decide to pop open to your site. Like now! Hooray!

    Chalk me up as another person who doesn’t comment unless she has something useful to add to the conversation. Commenting just to comment is so far out of my universe that I don’t comprehend it (in fact, when I blogged, I used to get annoyed that I’d gotten all excited over a comment notification email that only said, “me too!” or whatever).

  16. I am someone who will click through and not leave a comment. Usually it’s because there are already many comments, and I don’t have anything to add other than a useless “I’m so sorry.” My general inclination in the face of tragedies, large or small, is to make bad jokes. For instance, I will probably follow in my father’s footsteps and begin asking you how your friend Mel (you know, Mel Anoma?) is. (His friend was Arthur Itis). Not everyone appreciates my wackjobitude, and so I must disperse it sparingly. Buuut, if there are few comments, then even a useless “I’m so sorry” might not be so useless.

    Sometimes it’s just people wanting to see the accident. Sometimes it’s people who want to reach out but don’t know how. Sometimes it’s just an ill-timed twitch. Who knows?

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