Tomorrow marks one year of this blog’s existence. Since I will be on retreat, here are some stats to mark the occasion:
132 posts (counting this one)
724 followers (though some of those are commercial enterprises trolling for exposure and their own hits)
Top five posts (not including homepage landings and checking my “About” page):
#1 @ 2819 My Vanilla Partner: Bisexuality, Het Privilege & Fluidity
#2 @ 599 Veering Towards Our Own Vulnerability: Depression Illuminated
#3 @ 362 Repentance and (no) Reluctance: A Confession for America
#4 @ 323 True Story: Married not Once, but Twice, to a Dying Woman
#5 @ 273 April 19, 2013: It Could Have Been Otherwise
Shares on Facebook, the primary means I have for spreading the ‘good news’ of the blog, is an indicator of interest – either in supporting my blogging or in supporting the content of a particular post. Through Facebook, there were 4,442 “referrals.” To my surprise, there were 347 referrals to my blog from Twitter. Though I do tweet every post, I am not facile with Twitter, and do little else unless I am at a conference and have my laptop at the ready. But it’s sending some traffic my way. The UUpdates site, where blogs of a UU nature are cataloged, sent 321 hits my way in the past year. The UU blog round-up, “The Interdependent Web” sent me 172, though it’s been awhile since my blog was featured there, so those are early hits.
Some admired other blogs have been a throughway to my blog, which I really appreciate. Thanks, Mary Luti! Thanks, Tom Schade’s The Lively Tradition. Thanks, Standing on the Side of Love! Even the small but mighty RaisingFaith sent me 9 referrals – but that blog, and its author, has given me much more than that, including being one of the reasons I started blogging.
But the FB shares do not wholly match with the order of popularity as those stats reflect. For instance, #1 – My Vanilla Partner – was chosen to be highlighted as “freshly pressed” by WordPress, which is why it is so far above the others in hits. On Facebook, it had only 48 shares. The piece with the most FB shares is #2 – Veering Towards Our Own Vulnerability – and I would say that is because it is a piece that I wrote about a high school friend’s suicide and it was shared widely among his large grieving community. Next in FB shares is #5, another pastoral outreach at a time of strong need: just after the Boston Marathon bombing and the capture of one of its perpetrators (132 FB shares).
My favorite from the sermon category (which is NOT a very popular category, btw): Not Crying on Sundays: On Job and Your Heart (sermon) – this has 258 hits, but there is also the audio version, which has another 41 hits of its own, which actually puts it into the number five slot. This is the one that has the most enduring interest. Thanks to its topic – a song used as part of the struggle for marriage equality that then became a huge popular hit – there are these recurring instances of it turning up in the search engine results that leads to my post. The night of and day after the Grammys, there was a huge spike in hits on that post. “Not crying on Sundays” is the top search term that led folks to my blog (and the 4th is “Macklemore same love” which is the same thing from a different angle). Followed by “hope” (which is very pleasing). In third place, “Adam Lanza,” which reflects several posts I wrote in the wake of the Newtown shootings, often to urge us to remember 28, not just 26, senseless deaths.
The reality is that my favorites do not match well with the popular posts. Welcome to my world. My personal overall favorites:
Holy Tampon, Batman! (200 hits/47 FB shares)
Summer of Solid Rocks (108 hits/ 10 FB shares)
Any Reaction: Both are Transformed (99 hits)
Meditations on Grave Digging (66 hits)
My Gay Boyfriend: Traveling with David (164 hits/6 FB shares)
I can be overly obsessive about checking my stats, as my family will attest. That said, a very cool stat is the country of origin where the hit came from:
United States of America…12,288
There are numerous countries where there has been only one hit. A few of them are the Laos People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, and Belize. Twenty-nine hits from the Russian Federation and thirty from Israel.
So what do these stats tell me? When something big happens in the world — like tragedy — or something that impacts the culture — like a pop song shifting our values — people want to both know more and connect with something larger. When I spend time on social media reading up on what’s happening, maybe it’s not just a vapid time suck. It is the chance to engage and possibly comment on things going on in the world so that a UU voice can be among the cacophony. This is not new. Plenty of UU bloggers have known this and embodied this for a long while now. I stand on the shoulder of many and hope that I am wearing shoes soft enough to not bruise.
Yes, this blog is part of my own process in becoming a minister, in articulating my thoughts and feelings on spirituality, on theology, on the world. I often speak from my particular UU or UU-Bu perspective and I often write as if I am talking to a UU community. This is good and fine.
And there is a pull and a need to speak beyond any group that explicitly identifies as UU and to do so from this UU perspective, to be the voice that explains what it means (or may mean) to not cry on Sundays or to not make monsters of those humans whose behaviors are monstrous.