Being Betrayed by Strangers: The Invisible Audience

I was going to work more on a couple of posts I’ve been writing for the past couple of days, one being a sort-of follow up to my last post on stress, and others more silly a something Lexy and I talked of, but here I am writing this.

I don’t know how many people go out and read unfinished or finished works by strangers on the internet–silly, I know, considering I’m currently writing to an invisible audience who may have already left for another site by now–but I’m going to assume that we all have people who we like to read from.

And it really is reading FROM.

It feels like Grammar will soon come up to me and give me a good smack for that, but you are reading what strangers have put out to the Invisible Audience, born from their imaginations.

How they put things, how they see things, how they cope with what has happened, we read it and we judge it and we decide if we like it or not, and if we read enough of it, we like enough of what we’ve read, like how they’ve written, we become fans.

We read more.

We like them more, FOR reading of their ideas.

We develop this faith in them, not like a religion, but like a childs’ faith that Santa exists, or their faith that Adults (particularly Parents) know pretty much everything and can always tell when you’ve done something You Shouldn’t Have Done.

This faith says that they will continue to write things you like.

They, this stranger you have put faith into, will continue producing this writing quality you enjoy.

I don’t know WHAT yo end up reading online, you could read news articles, you could read blogs, you could read published books that may have been put onto the internet with or without permission, you could read fanfiction, porn, ads, tweets, facebooks updates…

I really don’t know, but guaranteed you have a site that you go to regularly, or a writer you check up on often, or SOMETHING that keeps you coming back….

Because you have faith that they will continue putting something you find interesting and GOOD online.

The way it develops for most people, I believe, is that you read one thing from them, this Stranger, that you like.

So you check out other things of theirs that they’ve posted.

I find myself doing this the most on fanfiction.net

I read a story I like and check out what else the writer has posted on their profile.

I don’t read EVERYTHING of theirs, no, but if they have written something for a fandom that I like, and the plot summary or teaser interests me, I will read more of what they’ve written.

In some cases, like what prompted me to start writing this particular post, I like what I’ve read of what they’ve written that I decide to click on the stories that they’ve put up in a fandom I like that I don’t think seems particularly interesting.

I caught myself doing this for an author called esama (BETRAYAL! s/he’s moved all her fics and it’s taken me this long to find them HERE!) after reading a good deal of this Strangers Sherlock stories that I decided that I like how they portray the characters, I like how they’ve used certain crossovers, I like pretty much everything.

So I started reading one story that I didn’t think looked that interesting, and then decided it was really good. Went onto the next one that I thought didn’t look interesting, and decoded I really liked it.

On the third one, which is just now in another tab, waiting for me to get this thought out of my head before reading it, it crossed my mind that right now, I’m expecting this story to be good, I expect to be adding it to my ‘favourites’ list, and I expect that I will be extremely disappointed in this author if this doesn’t turn out to be awesome.

I mean, I already have this author on my subscriptions list, and on my favourites list, what if this turns out to be a BAD story? What if it’s total crap?

I don’t know that it’s crap at the moment, as I haven’t read it yet, but I feel like I would be feeling pretty betrayed if this author who I don’t know doesn’t live up to my expectations.

I know that betrayed may not be the right word, but disappointed may also work if you don’t want to admit that the inner 5-year-old inside of you that judges everything would feel betrayed–betrayed in the same way as I remember being when my Dad refused to tell me what something meant and directed me to a dictionary, the same way I know I felt betrayed when, in that last year of desperately believing in Santa Clause I decided to give him one last chance to prove he was real, and he failed. Because in my mind, if Santa was really as amazing as everyone said he was, he would get the letter I left out for him on Christmas night and produce whatever it was I put on that letter even on such short notice.

Of course Santa is real, but he has more of a business happening, wheer he reads your mind and puts gifts in stores for family members to buy.

But that’s a theory for another post.

But the faith that we all put into strangers still amazes me.

The following that some writers get is staggering…

Or, if you’re more of a YouTube person, consider the vloggers out there.

You hit that subscribe button figuring that they will continue giving you the entertainment you are looking for.

Sure, you get a sort of relationship with people over the internet, reviewing/commenting and giving your opinion on what they have displayed for the Invisible Audience, but they are still, essentially, strangers.

And yet, on YouTube I get excited when one of my comments gained 21 thumbs up…

Strangers are fun…

The internet is a wonderful place, I think…

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