Essay 2: My online publishing experience

I created AmaansWorld as a sort of journal entry into my mind. I wanted it to be a space where I could write freely about my thoughts and adventures. Very quickly I decided to narrow down on the audience and give it some kind of a ‘direction’. As a result of deciding on an audience, the baseless rambling became cohesive blogs, and the crazy theories became neatly explained ideas. Originally, I wanted this website to be a space for myself, but very quickly I decided that the audience for this space would be my friends and family who would want to keep up with me during the pandemic and stay entertained.

WordPress woes:


I used Reclaim Hosting to host my domain and used WordPress to design my website. WordPress is fairly easy to use, but it does have a bit of a learning curve. I found that the default theme I was in was extremely limited and lacked a lot of customizability that the other themes had. I switched over to a theme called Signify after weeks of battling the default theme.

Design elements:


Since I wanted my blog to be a reflection of my personality, I decided to use yellow as the primary color for my theme. Yellow is often seen on parenting, wellness, and travel websites because of its ability to make viewers feel warmth and optimism (Byrne, 2019). It also makes them feel happier and gives the blog a more youthful vibe (Byrne, 2019).

I decided to give only the blog page thumbnails as it would entice people to read the blog. I didn’t feel it was necessary for the process posts, mini assignments, and other posts as those are all academic pieces of content that will be read and judged anyway. The blog section is something I wanted to grow organically, and the most effective way (other than good SEO) for me was to use thumbnail pictures to entice people.

I also added a comment box for people to be able to interact with each other and form a community. My vision was to be able to give my audience of friends and family a public space to share comments and interact with the content and each other. Unfortunately, due to the low website views, no one left any comments. 

My Analytics


My analytics showed me that most, if not all of my visitors were just my classmates checking my website or my parents looking at it. I did have some random views from Russia, but I didn’t see as much of my friends and family on there as I would have liked. Unfortunately, I was not able to gather much about my audience from Google Analytics, other than the fact that they were male. I do think that if I improved my SEO for the blog the results would have been much more organic and promising. I also think if I shifted my websites direction to more topical content I would have more organic growth.

Online Disinhibition and me.


I noticed that my content had led to online disinhibition. Online disinhibition is the idea that people do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t otherwise do in real life (Suler, 2004). In my case, I noticed my online persona fell into solipsistic introjection, where my mind has merged with my online persona (Suler, 2004). I could feel the more charismatic and interesting version of myself take over my text messages or place an order for deliveries. I that my online self is more interesting, charismatic, and social than my actual self and I’m seeing the lines in my online-self and my real/offline-self get blurred.

The issue of audience and anonymity.


Since my ideal audience would have been comprised of people I know, I think my content was self-censored to a certain degree. While it’s true that short term focused writing about emotions has benefits such as enhanced immune function, lowered blood pressure and anxiety, less depressive symptoms, etc. (Novotney, 2014).  I feel that I was not fully able to grasp those benefits because of a lack of anonymity.

Initially, I wanted this blog to be a stream of consciousness like a diary entry because of the immense benefits to self-esteem, social anxiety, and emotional distress, blogging has (Novotney, 2014). However, I was unable to upload anything I thought was too personal as I lacked anonymity and had a fear of judgment from my peers and audience. As a result, my content was not an honest reflection of myself, but rather how I wanted to be perceived by my peers. This is a phenomenon that has been noted by other researchers; anonymity behind blogging can allow for more free expression of ones-self as they no longer consider what their friends and family might think about their thoughts (Novotney, 2014).

I do think, that because of the nature of this blog (it being used for coursework) I was not able to fully open up and express my thoughts. Especially because I envisioned a community forming on my websites.

Online Comments and Content.


While I do have comments open, because of the low turnout to my blogs I. I think that as I kept blogging my content got more and more personal. I do believe that if someone had left a negative comment about my content, I would have very quickly changed direction with it.

While I do have comments open, because of the low turnout to my blogs didn’t receive any comments. This I think was a blessing to a certain degree, as I am pretty sensitive to criticism and a negative comment would have led me to change my content in some way. I noticed that as I kept blogging my content became more and more personal. However, I do believe that if someone had left a negative comment about my content, I would have made it less personal.  Furthermore, I think it would have affected my offline persona negatively too. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people do nothing and hope it would go away on its own (Khosa, 2016).

Trolling and gender.


While I am concerned about cyber-bullying and trolling on my blogs, I am statistically least likely to be affected because of my gender. For some reason, women are usually trolled online more often than men. Usually, because they are trolled by men (Gardiner et al., 2016). In fact, it has been proven that girls are far more likely to be cyber-bullied than boys (Greenfield, 2015). Some of the comments can go from mean-spirited to downright scary and disgusting like with Jessica Valenti who had to quit social media after her five-year-old child was getting rape threats because of her feminist work (Boggioni, 2016). To a certain degree, I carry privilege with me being online even though the internet is viewed as an equal platform. But just because of my gender, my website and content is less likely to be trolled.


Closing remarks:
I think this semester has given me insight into the work that goes behind becoming a successful blogger. I’ve learned that you need to be secure in your own identity and online image and that sometimes you can get lost in the online character you build for yourself. I do recognise that somewhere I did have it easier as I am a smaller blogger and a male. Had I been a larger blogger or a woman I think this would be a vastly different story. Moving forward, I think I will keep blogging but perhaps under a new, more anonymous blog as it will allow me to be more open with my expression. I do intend to keep Amaansworld running as a reminder to myself of the work I did.


References:

Boggioni, T. (2016, July 28). Prominent feminist writer drops off social media after rape threat against her 5-year-old daughter. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.rawstory.com/2016/07/prominent-feminist-writer-drops-off-social-media-after-rape-threats-against-her-5-year-old-daughter/

Byrne, S. (2019, July 22). How Colour Psychology in Web Design Can Increase Conversions. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://forgeandsmith.com/blog/colour-psychology-web-design/

Gardiner, B., Mansfield, M., Anderson, I., Holder, J., Louter, D., & Ulmanu, M. (2016, April 12). The dark side of Guardian comments. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/12/the-dark-side-of-guardian-comments

Greenfield, S. (2015, December 01). The Internet Has Changed Bullying- For The Worse. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mind-change/201512/the-internet-has-changed-bullying-the-worse

Khosa, N. (2016). How personality effects victim’s response to cyberbullying (Master’s thesis, Thesis / Dissertation ETD, 2016) (pp. 1-51). Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University. doi:https://doi.org/10.31274/etd-180810-5365

Novotney, A. (2014, June). Blogging for mental health. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/06/blogging

Suler, J. (2004, June 1). The Online Disinhibition Effect. Retrieved December 07, 2020, from http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

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