AVFL’s third anniversary
It quietly came and went a few weeks ago. I note it only fwiw, which varies wildly depending on whom you ask, of course. The usual stuff applies about what a great bunch of readers I have on the whole. A friend of mine emailed the other day to remark that the average intelligence of the collective discourse on the site has markedly risen since those early days. And even the cranks and crack pots are entertaining most of the time. I think he’s right.
Anyway, I’ve always assumed at some point I’d run out of things to say, and some days I come pretty close to taking a bow and heading for the bus. But then I find myself getting up on a sleepless night and pounding out three or four posts and getting that strange bloggers’ jolt of excitement and anxiety and expectation and fear and then I hit PUBLISH, only to wake up three or four times during the rest of the night to monitor my blackberry for a flame war or comments cat fight.
I blame you, naturally. You keep coming back, more and more every month (and evidently, a few artists read this site, … “more than you’d think,” to be exact, at least according to Madison Easter. Who knew?). Last month was the best yet: a total of 250,000 hits on the month, almost 4,400 daily page views, 2,500 daily visits (76,000 for the month), and 8,300 hits a day. Thank you.
As for reflections on the journey thus far, it would perhaps be overstating things to say blogging makes any kind of measurable difference, despite the most noble goals. At best, I think blogs offer an alternative site for free-wheeling discussion and open exchange of perspectives that might otherwise go unvoiced in a subculture like southern gospel, where the powerful and prominent come into their power and prominence assuming deference to their opinion as a kind of birthright.
But to value dissent and critique and give-and-take is not nothing. When I read on Adam Edwards’s site the other day that Libbi Perry Stuffle had created a line on her personal profile called “dislikes about gospel music on the internet” in order to take a swipe at “message boards and blogs,” I couldn’t help but feel like some of the gospel-music uses of the internet must be getting something right. Which is to say, the diversity of perspectives and ideas that blogs like mine thrive on mounts a regular challenge to the kind of monochromatic thinking implied in Stuffle’s remark.
Whenever I read or hear things like this (and if you listen closely, you might be surprised how frequently performers make left-handed remarks about the internet from the stage), I’m reminded of two things.
One is that southern gospel may hold the worldwide record for thinnest skin per square inch of professional epidermis. After Gaither, there is probably no other group that bestrides gospel music right now the way the Perrys do, and still the family matriarch thinks it necessary to go out of her way to twit what is – in the grand scheme – a comparatively small (but also very devoted) subset of fans in gospel music who prefer to maintain their connection to sg online and dare to say more than “you and your group is sech uh blessin’.” As a critique of new media, the remark is just silly (given the lack of influence or prestige we the pajama mafia of the blogosphere can claim); as a PR move, it’s counterproductive (if there’s one thing you can say about message boarders and bloggers, it’s that they are diehards, so why poke em in the eye?).
The other thing I’m reminded of: a little bit of dissent, critique, candor, and plainspeaking goes along way in the intellectually brittle world of southern gospel music. The joyful noisers will probably always be the prevailing attitude. But then again, that just means the rest of us will have that much more fun baying at the moon, sticking in a thousand craws, and generally insisting on the joyful-noise absurdity that what motivates an artist must be the only reason to care about or engage with an art form.Email this Post