I have been trying to write this particular post for a few months now and finally reached the conclusion that I should just go ahead and write some thoughts.
One of the roots of this article–“Finding An Audience?”–was planted while listening to one of bell hooks’s lectures on YouTube. (I’ve listened to so many, I forget which one.) In this talk, hooks commented that if her books–especially her children’s books–were promoted by the powers at be in a way parallel to the promotion of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, her books could be as popular and as influential.
What we like, don’t like. What we know about, don’t know about. What sells, what doesn’t. All of this is highly mediated.
Like hooks, I long for a larger audience. Hopefully, that doesn’t come across as too selfish or too arrogant. If the right person tweeted or retweeted one of my articles or linked to one of my articles, I could instantly gain hundreds or thousands of followers. Expanding one’s readership independently is difficult, and it can be expensive.
Part of the problem is that we live in an era of such anti-intellectualism and intolerance that many people are not interested in learning or having their ideas challenged. And my blog is constantly challening everyday, default thoughts. Another name for my blog could be something along the line of Transgressions. There have been many times when I publish a more controversial article than usual where I instantly loose followers and subscribers.
Sometimes, on the other hand, it feels like I am mainly preaching to the choir with my various articles. For that reason, I try to focus on unique points-of-view, my own experiences, and other things that aren’t discussed elsewhere. I have this longing to be read by more people and to engage in conversations with more people. I want my writing to make a difference, to have an impact. I love teaching and do so in the classroom and outside of the classroom.
On a similar note, sometimes I struggle to find the words needed to express a concern or thought, especially given the pervasiveness of Trumpism right now. We need to talk and write about Trumpism, but where are the words? We also don’t want to abandon other causes. All of this makes finding an audience even more challenging and more urgent.
Another factor that makes it hard for all of us to have an audience is that there are so many wonderful articles and podcasts and videos out all the time that we can’t possibly look at everything. In this way, as bell hooks also suggests, social media sometimes functions as something of a silencing mechanism – luck and popularity and money and backing from the status quo drive who has an audience more than their ideas.
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda