Last week, my Twitter account got temporarily disabled in some sort of glitch. It was down for only five hours, but I didn’t know that when I tried to log in and couldn’t, so I panicked—and then got embarrassed with myself for how panicked I was. It’s just social media, but without the ability to broadcast my thoughts, I felt like I’d lost a big part of my self expression.
Here on Otaku Journalist, that sounding board effect is even more pronounced. While on Twitter I can broadcast what’s important to me to 5,700 people, this blog gets about 12,000 unique visitors a month. Google says about 2,000 of those people are regular visitors. This is a personal space, but not a private one. Every time I use this space to share something, it’s looked at by way more people than the sum total of my family and friends combined.
It’s easy to forget that, with blog comments going the way of the VCR. (This is not a subtle hint to comment; I don’t comment on blogs much anymore either.) When I blog, I don’t think about the thousands of people who will see the post. I don’t envision a particular face. I just sit at my computer, alone, and try to convey whatever I think is important to share. It creates the perception of a platform where I am active, you are passive. I talk, you listen.
But this weekend at Otakon reminded me that this isn’t true at all.
Person: Hi I’m X
Me: /deer in the headlights/
Person: I’m @X on Twitter
Me: OMG I KNOW YOU
— RG Lauren Custom (@laureninspace) August 14, 2016
These past three days, I talked to so many Otaku Journalist readers. One of you recognized me in the hall, and I want you to know that made my day. Some of you told me that you had one of my books on your Kindle, or were touched by a particular post I’d written lately. That was the me part. The you part was this—I know and follow and fangirl about so many of you! I’m your Twitter contact or your subscriber or I read your blog or attend your convention panels or sent you an email once while I was reporting something or we share a mutual friend. While it would have been a huge ego-boost in itself to have people recognize and praise my work, it was infinitely more rewarding to realize that the people doing the praising were people I admire.
It’s not so simple as the blogger being the creator, and the reader being the audience. And it’s way better than if that were the case. You’re an Otaku Journalist reader second. And first, you’re somebody that’s capable of awesome things that inspire me, even if I haven’t met you yet.
I’ve said before that blogging changed my life. There is an article about this, and I didn’t even write it. It’s not simply the act of writing online that changed things for the better, it’s that it gave me a place to be seen and heard by people like you. It’s given this awkward introvert a place to network and reach opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. And, I realized, it’s given me an in for going up to people I admire at places like Otakon to approach them as an equal.
The very fact of anime being created half a world away means that American fans will always be people who know how to take the initiative—to form clubs and conventions and fan projects. While I’ve been working on my blog and my books and, most recently, the Gunpla database, you’ve been building cool stuff in parallel. It’s reminded me that blogging isn’t a platform; it’s a way for me to participate in a conversation that’s been going on since before this blog began.
Please use the comments to shamelessly promote a fan project you’re working on. I’d love to plug it in this week’s Otaku Links. I’m pretty sure I’ll already have heard of, or perhaps already be a fan of, whatever you post. We’re all influencers, we’re all fans. This is a two way street.