With all of the big blogging events happening right now – Dewey’s Read-a-Thon, Bout of Books, Armchair BEA – I’m getting overwhelmed by the calls going out to help out by being a cheerleader. And I feel a little guilty in that… I just don’t want to.
I feel extra guilty because I’m sure there are people who would love to help out, but don’t have the time to take on another project. That’s not my issue at all. I have the time. And I love interacting with other bloggers. You’d think I’d be the perfect candidate.
So why don’t I want to be a cheerleader?
The first time I did Bout of Books, I had a self-imposed goal of commenting on five new blogs each day. Doesn’t sound like much, right? But it was so hard! I spent so much time that week staring at a blog, not connecting with anything it says, yet feeling obligated to say something, and then cursing myself for sounding too generic. I got so burned out and actually gave up before the week was out… and I have no desire to put myself in that situation again.
And not to diminish their efforts (because holy crap, it’s a ton of effort) but a lot of times cheerleading is just too obvious to feel genuine. Maybe there are people out there who need that cheer to pick them up, whether it’s generic or not. But personally I could take them or leave them.
During Dewey, there were hashtags for each cheerleading team. Maybe they’re supposed to create a sense of solidarity… but I have to say, it kind of dulls my appreciation of the comment, knowing that I’m an assignment.
In fact, I might just not sign up for cheering next time around (assuming the Dewey team sticks with the setup they had this time). Maybe I’ll change my tune if it turns out that I don’t get any interaction at all. But, at least from where I’m sitting right now, I’d rather get a little genuine interaction than a lot of obligatory interaction.
And again, I feel bad saying all this, because I know how hard the cheerleaders work. And I’m not saying that every cheerleading comment is devoid of substance. It just feels a little awkward. Though I will say that Dewey seems to be much more transparent about the cheerleading than other events I’ve taken part in. If it weren’t for the hashtags (and seeing myself added to various Twitter lists), I might be none the wiser.
You know what I’d love to see? A variation on the team idea… where instead of putting pressure on a few individuals, we could all be each other’s cheerleaders.
I don’t know how well this would work, since participants have varying level of enthusiasm when it comes to the social side of these events. Not to mention, then everyone feels the pressure I talked about in the beginning. So maybe it wouldn’t work for blogs, but I think it would be great for Twitter.
Because then those hashtags would take on a whole new meaning. Then it would be about solidarity and fun… not, “I’m responding to your tweet because I’m supposed to.”
Of course, setting up these teams would come with its own set of challenges. Do you randomly group people together? Do you have people sign up by the time of day they plan to be most active? Or how long they plan to stay active? What happens when (notice I don’t say “if”) one group thrives and another falls silent?
But it’s still an idea I’d love to see explored. The main read-a-thon stream is so overwhelming, but if you had a team of, say, 50 people using a hashtag or following a public list, I think it would make connecting with others more manageable. Sure, there’s the possibility that someone might not get any responses, without having those assigned individuals… but personally, even with that risk, this arrangement sounds much more appealing to me than being a cheerleader, or even being cheered for.
(For what it’s worth, I sort of tried to do this myself, setting up a TweetDeck column for the team that was cheering for me… but it didn’t quite work since I was mostly seeing the cheerleaders’ replies, not updates and general chatter.)
Maybe I’m all alone on this, but I feel like having a smaller group to interact with might actually lead to more interaction. And as book blogging events like this one get bigger and bigger, I think something along these lines could be really great.
But I’m not going to sign up as a cheerleader any time soon… even though I’d essentially be signing up for something I want to do anyway. But I want to want to do it. I don’t want to have to do it.
What are your thoughts? Does it feel awkward getting – or giving – cheerleader comments? Or am I making a big deal over nothing?