Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Power of Blogging

Two days into 2014, in the midst of very busy final week of Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood, I got a Facebook "friend request" from some guy in Seattle named Victor.
Hmm... Victor. Do I know any Victors?
I clicked through to his profile. I didn't recognize the face. We didn't have any mutual friends. We didn't work at any of the same places.
"Babe, we know anyone from Seattle named Victor?"
The name didn't ring any bells with my girlfriend either.
"Hmm. Spam, I guess."

CUT TO: 2 months later.

I notice I have a message in the "Other" part of my Facebook messages. Now, for those of you who don't know - which, I'm guessing, is pretty much 98% of the population - there is an "Other" tab in your Facebook messages where any correspondence from a non-Facebook friend gets buried... erm, "filtered".

Seriously. Go look. I'll wait.

Surprise! Can you believe that's been there all along?

David Pogue from the New York Times did a blog post about the "Other" folder last year and a lot of his readers replied to say that, thanks to his post, they'd found long lost friends and wallets or, sadly, discovered they'd missed a job opportunity or, worse, a funeral.

Anyway, the message in my "Other" folder was from that Victor guy. It read:
Hi there big fan here. I'm not sure how but I stumbled across your blog somehow awhile back out of nowhere and read it in its entirety. It sounded like one big adventure.
Holy cow! Somebody actually read my blog!!


And not just parts of it, no... THE ENTIRE FLIBBITY FLAGGITY BLOG!!

I immediately replied to his message to confirm that:
  1. he was a living, breathing person.
  2. he wasn't a "Nigerian Prince" informing me about some "unclaimed funds".
  3. he was actually talking about THIS "Black Coffee and Green Tea" and not a similarly named yet far more entertaining blog that somehow managed to be updated in the past 3 years.
He was, he wasn't and he was.

This was huge! I couldn't wrap my head around it. While I'd enjoyed doing this blog, the main reason I didn't even attempt to maintain it once I left Seattle was because I didn't think anybody was reading it.

Worse, since I'd started this blog to find "my audience" only to discover they were more elusive than Facebook's "Other Messages" folder, I'd considered the whole endeavor a failure; not the "I shouldn't have wasted my time" kind of failure but the "learning from our mistakes" kind. I concluded that my blog had been about too broad a range of topics ("Back to the Future"! Japan! Caffeine!) to ever build a core audience. No wonder nobody ever read it.

And then some guy named "Victor" messaged to say that, yes, somebody HAD been reading. And he was a fan! Of my writing. That's like dedicating your life to looking for yetis, finding no evidence, giving up, and then randomly getting an email from Bigfoot.

"Hey Matt, love your work."
Hoping to show some gratitude as well as gain a little insight, I replied:
Thank you again, Victor! I'm genuinely flattered! You are, quite possibly, the only non-family member to read my entire blog! (Oh, who am I kidding? I don't even think they read it...) I really enjoyed doing that blog but I guess it just wasn't specific enough to really attract an audience. If you don't mind me asking, is there anything you specifically really enjoyed about it? I'm just curious. It's, unfortunately, very rare I get a chance to get feedback about my writing!
I seriously didn't expect much of a response, if any. But here's his reply:
I think our similarities and your whole outlook on life portrayed through your writings of your adventures is what sucked me in. I am obsessed with coffee, Back to the Future, all things 80's and a lot of other similar things which is how I think I first stumbled upon your blog. I like your spontaneity, your openness and your whole sense of adventure and doing what you want and not conforming to social norms because you chose to live your life how you want. It was a very good read and it is good to know that there are others out there like me. I randomly moved to Seattle from NY in 2004. By 2009, I wasn't happy with my life and felt pigeonholed into living a stereotypical life that didn't seem to be going anywhere. There were always things I had wanted to do but never did for one reason or another. In January of 2009, I discovered your blog and was truly inspired by your carefree adventurer attitude. I was inspired to make positive changes and live life how I wanted. So with that, I quit my job, quit my cover band I had been playing with 2-4 times a week since 2004, dumped my negative girlfriend of five years, threw away literally all of my stuff, moved from a large house into a 400sq ft studio in downtown Seattle and started over completely. It was the best choice I have ever made. I made great new friends, lost 60lbs and got in amazing shape, went on random adventures, got a new job that I truly loved and most importantly, met an amazing woman who is now my wife. So for all of that I thank you.

You're welcome, Victor. And thank YOU.

In other news, I HAVE AN AUDIENCE!! (Hi, Victor!)

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