An extra little frisson has been added to my mundane existence; the added thrill of not knowing what results I will find when I open up what is mysteriously called the website 'dashboard'. Until the last couple of years, I had only ever heard the word 'dashboard' used in reference to that part of a car that holds all the instruments and lights which cheerfully let you know when something has gone terribly - and expensively - wrong. Dashboards have evolved, of course, from the rudimentary efforts that I remember from my earliest vehicle-owning days, and have now become the face of ruthless, emotion-free computers, without which the engine will not even acknowledge its presence under the hood. My computer tells me that I am getting sidetracked, talking about computers...
Several times a day (if I'm not working) I will open up the site provider's page (and the dashboard) which displays all three of my websites and their ongoing performance in terms of hits and what's called 'unique users'. I find that I'm a little obssessive about these numbers - even if I don't trust the 'unique users' part, which bears little relationship to the number of pages visited - and in the split second that it usually takes for the graphs to load, my blood pressure and pulse tend to rise to unhealthy levels for a man of my age, weight, baldness and generally bad temper.
On good days, I get a kick out of seeing the numbers rising and peaking - it indicates that people are accessing and hopefully enjoying my ramblings. On bad days - when the online public has the temerity to ignore me (with nary a thought for my sensitive nature) and the numbers are much lower, I resort to placing a metal bucket on my head, banging it with a cricket bat (every Englishman has an old cricket bat lying about the house) and very vocally bemoaning the existence of the internet, the general public, and the dearth of good taste in the world.
This kind of stress is a new thing in my life. It's not entirely welcome, but I suppose that it goes with the territory when putting thoughts, ideas and a product out into the world. What I have found, however, is that of all the thousands of 'unique users' that have visited this and other websites (one of them is running at an average of 10,000 hits per month, which although small potatoes for the internet, still seems like a lot of interest by my standards), almost none of it translates into sales of my product (which, for a change, I shall manfully resist mentioning today). This is contrary to the persistent myth that social media is the key to commercial success, but then, when I'm competing with exciting, 'trending' news such as (and I'm not making this up) Kim Kardashian posting pictures of herself on Instagram wearing (gasp) a sweatshirt, I'm at a loss to work out how to draw any more attention to how bloody marvelous my book is (well, I like it, anyway!).
However...in the absence of incredible book sales, I do still very much enjoy the evidence that people read what I write - whether it's just a few people, or more. The idea of bringing a smile to somebody's face is a beautiful one, and just one success each day would bring me back for more, despite the bucket-banging that I'd inevitably inflict upon myself if the numbers ever dropped that low.
In a roundabout kind of way (a risky and dangerous tactic, since drivers in Canada are absolutely bewildered by roundabouts) I'm saying thank you for reading, and (being a little presumptuous about it), thank you for continuing to read the stuff I shovel in your direction. Every 'hit' is very much appreciated by this ordinary man just giving it his best.