Who is my audience?
“People are creating an internet that is less about connections and feedback, and more about quiet spaces they can call their own”. This is a quote from Tanya Basu on the topic of “digital gardens”. I think this quote embodies what I am trying to go for on this site. I don’t have a specific audience in mind besides myself.
My only digital space for the longest time has been my Instagram. As the years have gone by, the platform keeps getting worse. Especially these past few months, I haven’t even been able to use Instagram for its core purpose: posting photos. The app is currently full of bugs that will either strangely crop my work or just upload it as a black square. Instagram is one of the least transparent companies I’ve ever had to deal with, so they don’t tell anyone the cause of these issues, or when they can expect to be fixed. Instagram does not have any sort of contact information or real people you can reach.
There’s not even a point in trying to have an “audience” on Instagram anymore. They’ve fucked up the algorithm so much over the years that no one is sure what you have to do to gain engagement. I have business tools enabled on my account so I can see how many people view each of my posts, and it varies wildly from post to post for seemingly no reason. More than that, Instagram is only showing my content to about 40% of my followers.
Now it might seem hypocritical that I’m complaining so much about the Instagram metagame after previously crusading against influencers who do nothing but post fake shit for likes. That’s a fair observation to make. I don’t want engagement on Instagram for self-validation or popularity. I don’t need other people to tell me my posts are good, I know they’re good, I’m the one who posted them. I want social media engagement because it helps me find other likeminded people. I want to find others who feel that same drive to create things. My goal is to find others who inspire me and hopefully one day to serve as other’s inspiration.
That is only my audience for traditional social media. For my site, my audience is myself. I don’t expect others to find it. I don’t advertise my site, only a select few people know I have it. It’s fun to have a platform where I am less bound. I don’t need to worry about bugs with posting, or my images getting compressed. I don’t have to worry about algorithms or shadowbans. I can just cultivate my own “digital garden”.
I really like this idea of the digital garden. The “blog” as we know it feels too restrictive. I don’t like to be bound by having to post nothing but walls of text. Here I have the freedom to post whatever I want. I wouldn’t call what I’m doing a “blog” in the traditional sense. I don’t know what I would call this. Maybe a digital archive? I like how Basu framed it, “everyone does their own weird thing”. It doesn’t need a label. A digital garden can really be whatever you want it to be.
I won’t lie and say this site has been easy to set up, it’s been a pain in the ass, and continues to be a pain in the ass every time I want to change something. But I find myself looking at it and going “damn, this is tight”. I’m afforded a freedom that I wouldn’t have anywhere else on the web. Being able to curate a more in-depth online persona than any social media allows me is a rewarding experience.