I’ve been brewing a blog topic for a few months now. I’ve bounced ideas around in my head. I’ve jotted notes in the journal Ryane gifted me. I’ve even gone so far as to make a list of pros and cons. But today, today I’m going to finally tackle this sucker once and for all.
Links. Ah, links. And no, I’m not talking about fairways and sand traps. I’m talking about the way bloggers direct readers elsewhere. Being an erroneously confident gal when it comes to HTML, I link whenever and wherever I desire. Although I rarely do much to update or maintain it all. People, I’ve got more important things to do. You know, like watch Slade in a crocheted, side slanted beret trying to coach his former fiancé and current crush as she aspires to fall in love with a new douche.
Anyway, when I started this blog, I researched how to grow my readership. In real estate, it’s location, location, location. In the blogosphere, it’s links, links, links. The number of incoming links defines your Technorati rating and BlogShares value. It also increases traffic. Argue what you want but every blogger knows that incoming links are free advertising. The more people see your name floating around, the more likely they’ll stop by for a glance. And the more people glance, the better.
Taking off my blog writer hat and putting on my blog reader hat, links have been equally valuable. Without question, various blogrolls have led me to some amazing corners of the interweb. From Metrodad to It’s Like I’m Magic, My Fairbanks Life to Freckled K, I found these spots through other bloggers. I’ve also come across sites because they kindly linked to me. Like This Northern Life and Citizen of the Month, Alaska Anonymous and Restaurant Refugee. Without their incoming links, I would have probably never stumbled across them. Though, to be honest, that has more to do with me being lazy and preoccupied with other things. See above reference to Date My Ex.
Three years ago, when this blog was a mere tot, I updated my sidebar every time someone linked to me. It was my way of saying thanks. But when I got too overwhelmed by this task, when it started to become more time consuming than penning an essay, I gave up. I was here to write, not manage the page design. And so my blogroll went back to what it had been originally: a randomly updated collection of sites I like.
But even with a return to my original definition of a blogroll, I still vowed to make a concerted effort to connect with referring bloggers. I stop by his or her site, read some posts, leave a comment and then I add the blog to my Bloglines roster. Because while I can’t link to everyone who thinks I’m swell, I can at least read most of them. So far it’s worked, or has it?
Wednesday afternoon, I received a personal email from a blogger I sometimes read but have never personally met. On a handful of occasions, she has emailed me in response to a post. But for the most part, all communication has been through comments. Anyway, the purpose of her email was to ask why I had deleted her site from my blogroll. Which is true. Sometime in the last six months, while managing my list, I took the link out. And the why part? Well, I try to keep my blogroll to a certain length and over time had found myself drawn to other sites. But as logical as my reasoning may sound, I was admittedly annoyed someone was questioning my actions.
The thing is, this particular blogger specifically notes the absence of a blogroll on her site. And that’s her prerogative. But doesn’t that deny her the right to expect links from anyone? If she isn’t going to play the game, why does she think she gets to challenge the calls? I spent the next two or three days trying to formulate a response until, tired from all of the thinking, I decided to just write this essay.
In the weeks leading up to this specific email, I was pondering a post dedicated to people who’ve linked to me even though I have never reciprocated the gesture. I was pondering this because I appreciate those links the same way I appreciate finding a pair of Prada boots at 75% off or hearing a man tell me I’m beautiful. Yes, it’s that emotional of an experience. Like being invited to the prom by a crush, an incoming link is validation that I am doing something correct. However, if someone doesn’t link to me, I can’t take that as a snub. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure. A blogroll isn’t a beauty contest or job interview. In fact, it’s nothing more than a list of links. To read anymore into it is a waste of time and energy.
That’s how I finally landed here: the issue isn’t whether I deleted a link or added a link but that this is my site. If I want to write a post about having my heart broken, I can. If I want to capture a conversation I had with my mother, I can. Plain and simple, I get to do what I want when I want and I don’t have to provide answers to anyone. Ever. Dictatorships fucking rock when you’re the ruler.
So that’s my answer. I link the way I do because it’s my choice and it’s my site. And, as the poster that hung above my childhood bed, the poster displaying an exceptionally messy bedroom, proudly exclaimed:
My room, love it or leave it.