J. Alfred Prufrock, Zeldman, blogging, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Bloggers come and go in the land Oz; talking about a Midsummer Santa Claus

If you didn’t peak in high school, there was the consolation (myth?) that you’ll rock it (find happiness) later on.

Listening to The Big Web Show #49 at 5by5.tv/bigwebshow/49, I had to chuckle when Jeffrey Zeldman whines to Dan Benjamin about how “popularity” drives us now more than ever. Today, if your blog post doesn’t get picked up by techmeme, Google, or Ashton Kusher (@aplusk), you just won’t feel really good about what you’re doing.

“Popularity matters profoundly,” Zeldman bemoans. Popularity – not quality, Zeldman argues, is what determines your happiness because the advertisers, sponsors, and opportunities go almost exclusively to the winners of the popularity contest. Niche, in other words, should be awesome when you own it. But, frankly, as Zeldman and Benjamin admit, niche just doesn’t play out to our expectations. It doesn’t pay either.

U2 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Zeldman says niche – not Nietzsche- is dead

Zeldman – an authority on web design, web standards, and other things AND an engaging leader in the design community – says, “Part of me will never get enough love.”

How do you balance your aspiration for happiness with writing for yourself?

“If you write what you think will be popular, it won’t work,” says Zeldman. But he also believes “the only way you are going to get an audience is if you write what you believe in and love.” Of course, he cautions that you need to pay attention to what resonates from your work and focus on that – in other words, be true to yourself in responding to the interest of your audience.

You might not know who Zeldman is and you may even be wondering why you should get anxious about what this Zeldman is saying. After all, Zeldman is not Gary Vee. Right? But I can personally vouch for Zeldman as a guy that has been all about the internet for 16 years. Zeldman’s encouragement was crucial to my diving into the business of design, technology and innovation.

So here is Zeldman. And Zeldman’s moderate success is evidenced by books, bank, acknowledged thought leadership, community, years of doing and writing, and a huge Twitter following. And, again, Zeldman sats it out loud: he’s not getting enough love.

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Imagine Zeldman singing along to U2: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

But my point in writing this blog post is not to bum you out. Or me – but I’m singing the same tune and I don’t have a nickel to Zeldman’s claims to fame, love, and happiness. Some of my friends and readers don’t even have a penny to Zeldman’s Benjamin ($100 US) and yet you’re all gung-ho, huffington <sic>, and ready to give your best.

Can we figure this out? Can we figure out how to get satisfaction? Or just enough to get by – enough to make our struggles, risks, and sacrifices worthwhile? At least in our own heart?! Does it matter – or should we just go on talking excitedly about believing in Santa Claus – even if we haven’t believed in that jolly, old fairy tale since elementary school – if ever?

JackB, Janet Callaway, Paul Wolfe, Dino Dogan, John Garrett, Aaron Biebert, Saul Fleischman, Eugene Farber, Chris Hollingsworth, Constantin Gabor, Adrian Klein, et al:

What say you to my foolishness?

Stan Faryna
06 June 2011
Bucharest, Romania

If you’d like to connect with me, follow @Faryna and tweet me up on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/faryna

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About Stan Faryna

Mr. Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

Stan Faryna served as a Global Voices author and translator. Global Voices is a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, a research think-tank focused on the Internet’s impact on society.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago DefenderJurnalul NationalThe Washington TimesSagarSaptamana FinanciaraSocial Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna also served as editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2012 by Stan Faryna.

Here’s my fair use policy for my content: If you want to share my content with your own audience, you may quote a brief excerpt, if and only if, you provide proper attribution (Source: The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna) with a direct link to the source. Generally speaking, as long as you are not acting as an agent or on behalf of a corporation or institution, I am not interested in any payment for the quotation or use of a complete article. Nevertheless, you may not republish or translate the entire article without my written permission. Send your request for permission via Facebook. Or tweet me up me on Twitter.

8 Responses to J. Alfred Prufrock, Zeldman, blogging, and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

  1. Stan, aloha. Ironically, I was coming over here to read your post and, much to my surprise, there was my name.

    My thoughts on this are quite basic. Whether you are talking about life or your blog, if you look outside of yourself to be happy, you are destined to be sad,

    Outside validation by others is as fleeting as that brief moment of exhilaration after a new purchase. If a person depends on the thoughts and opinions of others to feel fulfilled or as a measure of success, then, my friend, I feel that person is doomed.

    As it relates to blogging, it gets back to the question of “Why do you blog?” Some people blog because they must speak whether or not their voices are heard by one or many. Others blog for “therapeutic” reasons as they reflect on life situations while others blog to brand themselves.

    If the sole purpose in blogging is to make money from that blog, then the blogger best be attuned to what approach will generate the revenue and adjust accordingly.

    The choice is up to each person. And that choice, Stan, is how they define success.

    Look forward to reading what our mutual friends have to say. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    P.S. From your comment above it almost sounds like you are confused about Santa Claus. Let me assure you he is alive and well in hearts and memories.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Janet: I love your comment. You get to the heart of the problem. Despite all of his contribution to web standards, etcetera, Zeldman may, in fact, be doomed. Because Zeldman is looking for Love in all the wrong places. Worse, he misunderstands it. Love begins in us. And if we aren’t getting enough love, it is because we just aren’t giving enough love.

  2. Stan, thanks for sending me the link to this blog post. It’s very interesting to me on a couple of levels. First, the notion of popularity as it has evolved through social media, has turned the world on its head. I recently read an article in Bloomberg Business Week about how all the top Yelpers are feted, and pampered as an elite corps. These are normal people who love writing reviews, and their reviews have become important, so THEY are now important. They could be losers living in their sister’s basements, but there you go.

    Second, writing about what you believe in and love are right on, I think. I am a microscopic fish in the vast ocean of blogging, but when I write from the heart, it’s evident by the response I get that I’m reaching people. I’m not trying to monetize my blog and write because I like writing.

    Based on reading this post, which by the way was very well written, I think you must feel the same way. The question is, what do YOU think?

    OK. Now it is SERIOUSLY late here (1:30 AM) and I must get to bed.

    Thanks again,

    Terri

    • Stan Faryna says:

      Terri:

      You’re responsiveness on Twitter is legendary. It’s something we could all learn from. Of course, your kindness and creativity really comes out on Twitter. But the clear thinking that I see on your blog stands out too. As it does in your comment here.

      Like you, I never really thought about monetizing my blog. WordPress may throw up an ad now and then on my blog for their own purposes – but I can live with that. After all, they’ve provided me with a free blogging platform for more than three years now.

      Do I want to be famous?

      I know that I want to keep on doing amazing and heroic things. I want to uplift others. I want to have a conversation from time to time. I want to make a difference. I want to be true and real. I want to be a light.

      Perks can be very nice. Rewards too. But that’s just the icing on the cake. As it happens, I don’t judge the cake by the icing. In fact, I tend to leave most of the icing on the plate because it’s often unnecessary to my enjoyment of the cake.

      Thanks for bringing your insight and questions, Terri.

  3. Stan, I’ve had your blog open on my desktop for 3 days and haven’t been able to come up with an answer.

    All I can say is that I appreciate you and your blog and am thankful I connected with you.

  4. Marcus says:

    Hey Stan,

    I am with Janet on this one.

    When we need: recognition, to get attention, to give our opinion when nobody has asked for it and it makes no difference to the situation, to make an impression on others through possessions, knowledge, good looks, status, physical strength, not to feel offended, to make ourselves right and someone else wrong, to complain, to be seen, to be important and popular in order to feel OK then we are always at the mercy of others and we will find surely meet unhappiness right after what we thought we had arrived at some happy destination.

    Our inner purpose is to wake up and become conscious and when we do this we infuse whatever it is we are doing with this light and we move and inspire others no matter what is we do.

    True happiness has nothing to do with anybody else and everything to do with knowing who we really are.

    ~Marcus

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