Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Blogger tells me that I have 390 “followers.” I think that this label is deeply weird, even if it is everywhere in so-called social media. To my mind, the word “follower” suggests an obedient devotee awaiting the instructions of a master. I don’t think though that anyone who reads Orange Crate Art is awaiting my instructions. But just in case you are: send me two million dollars at once, in small bills. Thank you.

There is another kind of follower on the Internets: the major-league blogger who posts — with nothing added and often with no acknowledgement of sources — the same items other major-league bloggers have posted earlier the same day. It’s no fun reading in an echo chamber, or a recycling bin.

A passage from The Elements of Style, near the end of E. B. White’s chapter “An Approach to Style,” offers still-timely advice:

Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.
Today’s Trend Machine is beyond anything White could have imagined: we even speak of what’s “trending.” To write, though, is not to sniff for what’s popular but to keep one’s nose to the ground — and to follow wherever it leads.

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