This blog was given an award.
It wasn’t quite what I was expecting.
Adorable was perhaps the last adjective I had in mind in the creation of this blog, though Lauradid say it was given ironically. Social convention dictates that I accept and conform to the stated rules of this award:
- Thank the person who gave you this award, and link back to them in your post.
- Tell us 10 things about yourself.
- Nominate your bloggers.
- Contact these bloggers, and let them know they received this award.
The alternative to doing these things is that I embrace my inner asshole and analyze the shit out of a seemingly minor event. Can you guess which one I’m going to do?
I hear the objection in your voice. “BUT TIM! It’s just a fun little award, why must you destroy it with your antisocial nitpicking!”
On the surface, this is certainly just a fun little award. However, a closer look reveals it to be the blogger’s adaptation of an age-old social mechanism: the chain letter.
There are two driving forces behind the propagation of chain letters. First, there’s a threat; if you don’t pass it on, you’ll suffer or die. Many chain letters include anecdotes about some schmuck who didn’t pass on the letter and would later be met with the cruel fate of herpes and perhaps death by falling chandelier. Second, there’s a promise of future reward; if you do pass it on, you’ll be met with great wealth and true love. Because the effort required to pass on the letter is so low (just pass it to 10 people! 50 gold pimp canes awarded if you forward it to 100 or more!) and the apparent risk of not passing it on is massive (I don’t want to be infertile!), chain letters tend to spread like wildfire among those who haven’t encountered them before. Once you’ve seen a few, however, it’s easy recognize that there are no risks or rewards because the contents of the letter are entirely fiction.
How does this relate to the Adorable Blog Award? Well, let’s first consider a classic blogging mechanism: the link swap. It’s simple – I post a link to your blog and you’ll post a link to mine. Everybody wins! And by win, I mean both blogs get free publicity (readers may as well be the currency of the blogosphere) by accessing each other’s readership. At least, that’s the idea – it turns out that just slamming links everywhere doesn’t work in an age where there are too many links for anyone to click all of them. Internet users these days generally need a decent reason to take the time to investigate a link these days. If they’re disappointed, they’re less likely to take the recommendation of that source in the future. In the information age, we tend to value those that are best able to sort the wheat from the immense quantity of chaff. Besides, long-term readers can only be attracted and sustained through the consistent generation of novel content. In any case, we have the promise of future reward that the Adorable Blog Award offers: publicity.
The negative reinforcement is a little more subtle. It’s not stated outright, but is found in the unspoken implications of not continuing the chain. Ignoring recognition is fundamentally rude – especially if that recognition comes in the form of an award. Even though the award is entirely fictional and arbitrary, to decline the award would be to reject the good will of the offering blogger. Networking lies at the heart of the blogosphere, and to offend one blogger may be to offend many. For a medium whose quantitative value is measured in readers, this prospect is not savory.
For the coup de grâce, the Adorable Blog Award comes packaged with an invitation to write about oneself in the form of fun facts. In general, society frowns upon people talking extensively about themselves unless asked, or if we happen to find them especially fascinating. In general, it would be rather trite to post ten assorted personal facts without provocation, but it’s cool if someone or something has asked you to do so. It’s exciting, too, because if a question has been asked, then there must be interest. It’s much easier to talk when you think your audience is interested in what you have to share.
There we have it: a self-propagating organism driven by the fundamental social mechanics of blogging.
Oh, and here’s my ten fun facts:
- I haven’t read a full book (nor even half of one) since I got back from England. Yes, I know how silly that is. I’ve started a great number, but something always happens a third of the way through.
- I spent most of last summer going completely barefoot (including to work), until I stepped on glass in Nate’s backyard. Goddammit, Nate.
- Paul has a new blog. This excites me.
- I’ve lost two pairs of glasses to dancing. That is to say, at some point while dancing they fell out of my pocket and I left the bar not realizing they were missing.
- I thoroughly enjoy thunderstorms. It reminds me of when my family would hide in the bathtub with a bunch of pillows during tornado warnings. Tornado sirens, for the record, are pretty much just air raid sirens.
- For nearly six months, I went to sleep every night watching the Deep Sea episode of Blue Planet. I have the first ten minutes of narration memorized. I usually fell asleep after that.
- I still use my last.fm scrobbler. The top track – which I haven’t listened to in over four years – is an ambient goa trance loop with 5,208 plays. The runner up is a Crystal Method song that I exclusively listened to while playing HoN.
- Aside from a few things from the Salvation Army, I haven’t purchased new clothes for myself in 3 years. Birthdays, Christmas, and a lot of forgetful borrowing have initiated any and all of my wardrobe changes.
- I’ve never had a broken bone or sprain/twist of any kind. I’ve never had stitches, and I’ve never had a cavity. Amazing, considering how gross my teeth were in high school.
- For my 21st birthday, I went out alone because it was a Wednesday night and nobody else could go. I managed to collect 14 free drinks from 9 different bars. Halfway through I had a lengthy conversation with a visiting conductor to IC. We discussed the future of orchestral music while consuming lemon drops. They were half off, you see.
Thanks for the award. I hope I didn’t ruin it.
If you’re curious, it appears the Adorable Blog Award originated from here. The comments on that post are, to me, beyond priceless.