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Being Counted

Every ten years, there is a census taken in America.  The last one was in 2010.  The next one will be in 2020.

The census is just a tool to gather information.  You can look up your state afterward and see what percentage of your population falls under the age of 5, is a Native American, has been living in the same house for more than one year.  It certainly isn’t the only way we count people: there is the issuing of birth certificates and death certificates.

But once I learned about the census, I always thought about the six years of my life that weren’t counted.  I was born in 1974, and the next census wasn’t until 1980.  If I had died in 1979, I would have slipped through the enormous cracks between censuses.  I always pictured it like wooden slats, with gaps between them where miniature human beings were tumbling into blackness.  Because it would only be children who would experience this — the lack of counting.  You would need to be under ten years old to never become a number in one of the censuses.


And yet, all those children clearly existed.  They don’t in terms of this one government tool, but they clearly existed for every family who lost their child.  One only needs to read a loss blog for a few entries to get a sense of how much that child is missed.


The story of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke starts with a census (so says the little Jewish girl).  The census of Quirinius was taken at regular intervals for tax purposes.  All people needed to travel back to their ancestral city to be counted, regardless of where they lived in the moment, so Joseph and Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, which is about 96 miles according to Google Maps.  Since that is by car and Joseph could have shaved off some time by traveling straight on camel, let’s put it at around an 80 mile trip.  I don’t know if you’ve ever rode a camel — I have — but 80 miles is a long way to ride atop a camel through the desert.  Without ice cream kiosks by the side of the road and an Egged bus to hitch if it gets a little to warm for comfort.  Nazareth is in the northern section of Israel, by Lake Kinneret, and Bethlehem is in central Israel, a little south of Jerusalem.

Other Gospels differ from this account of Jesus’s beginnings, but this is the one I always latched onto because it played into my visualization of our census, of people falling between.  It’s not as if people had a choice; Joseph and Mary were traveling because it was sanctioned by Rome.  But to me, that 80 mile journey shows how deeply we also want to be counted.  We want to count others and we want to be counted ourselves.  This part of the story appeals to me because it is such a human moment; the desire to mark down every single person under your domain.  To know them by numbering them.


In Judaism, you are not supposed to count people.  It’s minhag (which means “tradition” as opposed to halacha which means “law”) to not count people before they’re born — no baby showers or purchasing items for the baby, for instance.  But it’s halacha to not count people in general.  The main idea is that we aren’t supposed to count people just for the sake of counting people; to satiate our own curiosity.  It’s okay — according to some rabbis — to count the people in the room to make sure you have the required minyan (ten people you need for prayers) because you’re counting people for a good reason.  But it’s never okay to count just to know the number; for instance, to count your guests at a party.

There are different ways around this; for instance, King Saul collected a shard of pottery from each soldier and counted the pieces of ceramic.  As a camp counselor, we used to make sure we had our whole group when we went on field trips by counting them as “not one, not two, not three…”  Even though those two examples would both fit into counting for a good reason — to see if you have enough soldiers, to make sure you’re not leaving a child behind.  Counting the kids in the camp just to see if you have more kids this summer vs. last summer and if that advertising campaign is working would not fit in as a good reason.

So where do blog comments fit into this concept?  Every comment is representative of an actual person; they’re written by real people with real feelings and not robots.  So if we count them, are we inadvertently counting people for all the wrong reasons?  Are we getting hung-up on a number?  And what about stats?  If we look at our stats daily — numbers that count all the individuals who look at our blogs — are we counting to satiate our own ego?  Because there really isn’t a good reason why you would need to see that number beyond how it makes you feel.  That it’s a measure of progress, of feedback as to what resonates.  What doesn’t.


I was folding laundry while sitting on the living room floor.  The twins were playing on this computer programming social media site for kids that they both geek out on daily.  The kids program their own games and app-like things, upload them to their account, and then they can leave comments/questions on each other’s projects.  Yes, I am well aware that my children have more computer skills than I do.

ChickieNob was logged in, checking comments on one of her projects and the Wolvog was standing next to her, running through his usual monologue.

(He is always her greatest cheerleader; he likes to stand by her chair while she works and murmur encouraging things: “You are the smartest girl in the world!  That was such a fantastic idea!  I am so proud of you for doing that math in your head!  This project is going to be wonderful!”  Seriously, I sometimes wish we could bottle him and send him to every person in the world, especially when he stands next to me as I cook and says: “Mommy, you are the best cook in the world!  You are so creative with food!  You make the best pizza!”)

I was in the middle folding a shirt when I heard him say, “and you got 80 comments which is fantastic!  That means you are very popular!”

Something in that made me very uncomfortable.

Melissa: Is it important to be popular?

Wolvog: (prying his eyes away from the screen as if the Mac literally grasps his corneas every time it springs to life) No.

Melissa: But you just told her that it was great that she got 80 comments.  Would it mean the project wasn’t as good if it got 60 comments?

Wolvog: No.

Melissa: What if it got no comments?

Wolvog: But she got 80 comments.

Melissa: I’m just asking, what if the project got no comments.  Does that make it a bad project?

Wolvog: People comment on projects that they like.

Melissa: Do they?  What about the projects they don’t find?  If no one finds the project and therefore no one leaves a comment, does it mean it was bad?

I think I blew his little mind.

We ended up having a great conversation about it.  The Wolvog leaves dozens of comments daily on other people’s projects.  He loves talking about computer programming, and he excitedly makes his way around the site, unabashedly leaving comments everywhere.  He doesn’t look at a project without leaving a comment.  Which means a lot of people know him (and by default, his twin sister since she is the only friend request he has accepted.  It’s an interesting dichotomy — he comments everywhere but he loudly proclaims to a social media site that he is only friends with one person; his sister.  Whereas from what I assume, a lot of people leave few comments but collect many “friend” connections).  They visit his projects because he has visited their projects.

I worry about him latching onto computer-based validation this early in life.  We all know as adults how much meaning we put into comments and page views.  If you comment on this post, I assume that means it resonated with you.  If you don’t comment on this post, I fall into this grey area of wonder — were you busy, reading the post on a phone, did you hate it, was there nothing to say?  If you visit my blog, I assume that means there is something of value you can read here.  But I also know that if you don’t visit my blog, it doesn’t mean my writing or ideas aren’t good enough to hold someone’s attention.  There could be dozens of reasons for why you don’t come.

The rational adult knows not to hold so much stock in numbers.  There are fantastic writers who few know about and there are terrible writers that everyone knows about.

But the emotional adult is like the Wolvog — excited by the number.  Today, 80 comments seem like enough.  But we all know how this goes — 80 views is good, but 90 is better.  90 is reached, the person feels good.  70 is reached the next day and the person wonders what is wrong.  120 is reached and the person wonders how they can do that again.  30 is obtained and the person wonders what is wrong and changes a bunch of things.  20 is obtained and the person changes more things.  80 is obtained and it no longer looks as good as it did.

Humans like to gather information, we like to make sense of things.  We like to count people just for the sake of counting people to know how many people exist.  We like to know how many people read our words, how many people took the time to tell us that our words affected them even minutely.

As humans, we like to be counted.  We like the idea of being recognized, of our existence being marked.  We all aim to leave something behind in this world — a child, an invention, a book, a business — that marks the fact that we were here after we’re gone.  We want to know that we’ve been counted, noticed, noted.

The census, the comments, the page views — these are all examples of externally sourced validation of our existence, our importance.  Numbers matter  to us, as much as we say they don’t.  If they didn’t matter, we wouldn’t tie up our self-worth in them, in the amount of money we make vs. the fact that we make money.  The size of our house vs. the fact that we have a house.  The number vs. the quality of our friends on Facebook.

With few exceptions, numbers matter to people: that is a self-evident truth that we can’t dismiss.  We may focus on different numbers — how many times we have sex per month vs. how many people bought our book vs. how many people attended our presentation — but we all focus on numbers somewhere in our life because they’re the measuring stick for our self-esteem.  They’re the concrete example we can point at that say “I matter.  I am here.  I am noticed.  I am counted.  I have worth.”  We don’t count the things that are meaningless to know; the blades of grass on our lawn instead of the number of bathrooms in the house.  We count what matters to us, and that is often people and our connections to them.  Humans want to connect.

What do you count?  What numbers matter to you?


I have, I fear, at least one more post in me about external validation all based on the Wolvog and his love of the Internet.  Coming soon.


1 Anna { 04.04.12 at 8:04 am }

What do I count? I count how many people attend my lectures at work, we all do. We know that time slot, lecture theatre, day of the week all impact this but we also care whether we are reaching the students. It is also validating or not. I will count how many students answered my exam questions, I used to get 80% of students answering my questions and 20% answering a colleagues on the same paper, I now have a new colleague and maybe he will be the 80%.

I have a problem at the moment remembering my age, what year it is, how long I have been in work etc. The off-hand calculations that I make tend to come up with results based on my age and the year when our fertility issues began. I’m not conscious of feeling frozen but I literally have to keep counting the years to work out how old I am, as if my sense of time stopped working.

Your descriptions of Wolvog and ChickieNob online are fascinating to me. My daughter isn’t old enough to be a citizen of the online world yet but I am fascinated by the idea that the twins are so fluently active in that world when it still seems so new to me. It’s an interesting topic, I look forward to the next bit.

2 Elizabeth { 04.04.12 at 8:15 am }

So very interesting! I love this idea of NOT counting people. But why do I love it so much? Is it the underlying notion behind it that the worth of a single human being is so close to infinite that it makes no sense to subject it to mathematics? That one person is of the same value as a million? Which kind of blows my mind… but how else are we to think of human worth, really?

3 HereWeGoAJen { 04.04.12 at 8:23 am }

If I don’t comment, it is 97% of the time because I am busy. 🙂 And I always feel so guilty when I miss one of my regular blogs, even though I know there are plenty of reasons to not comment and I never mind when people don’t comment on mine.

I was thinking about counting comments when you said this. I almost never look at the actual number. But I kind of have a sense of it in my head- is it about the same as normal, more, less? And I sometimes go look at the number if it seems like a lot more or a lot less. But oddly, I am not really sure what my normal amount of post comments is. I’m getting a bit spoiled this week though.

4 Tiara { 04.04.12 at 8:54 am }

Your children facinate me!

As for comments, truthfully, even tho it’s nice to get 10, 12, 15, etc comments on a post, what means the most to me is a comment that really shows they got what I was saying, or offered support in a big way or provided me am alternative perspective…to have just one comment that is like that means more to me than the total number of comment.

I started making more of an effort to comment on all the blogs I read when I noticed how much comments on my posts meant to me. I wanted to pay forward that feeling.

5 Gail { 04.04.12 at 9:02 am }

This is a great post and really got my thinking! I especially like the link that you made between the census and counting people that existed, but didn’t get counted. Whether that is online or in the real world.

I use numbers a lot for validation. I look at the scale to see if I lost or gained weight. I count the hours that I sleep (and wish for more). I count the number of days until vacation (74 days), and I still keep track of when my half birthday is even though I’ll be 34 1/2 years old this July. Numbers are important to me and I wouldn’t know what to do if I couldn’t keep track of these things. I know that some counting (2ww) adds stress to my life, but I still do it.

But I also see your point that is isn’t important to count comments or friends. I honestly have no idea how many friends I have on Facebook. I basically accept just about any friend requests as long as I somehow know the person. But, I can count on only one hand the number of true friends that I have that would drop everything and come running if I needed them regardless of the time of day. And, that’s all that really matters in the end.

6 April { 04.04.12 at 9:10 am }

I count the time I get to spend with the people I love, the time that my husband and I manage to not bicker while working on the kitchen, the time spent walking with my husband, step-daughter, and our dogs, the time spent with friends and family. I don’t count comments or followers because to do so would hurt more than it would help.

As much as I would like to have a big online following, I know that there are others who state things so much better and are better at posting frequently. I’m also not very good at commenting on a regular basis even though I read several blogs on a daily basis.

7 a { 04.04.12 at 9:12 am }

I don’t like to get into counting things because it triggers that little tiny OCD portion of my brain that wants to just keep counting. I don’t count comments, because a) I don’t write enough to keep the interest of a large amount of people and b) I’m more interested in the who than the how many. So, it’s more important to me to have my comments emailed to me, so I can see who is commenting.

I guess life has taught me that we often don’t get recognition for the things we should. That doesn’t make those things less valuable. Self-satisfaction is more important to me than external validation. Plus, in my little sphere, the external validation is often tinged with insincerity (due to whatever reasons – jealousy, personal dislike, crazy people?) so I find it more painful than pleasant.

The not counting aspect of Judaism is fascinating. What do you suppose is the view of our Democratic Republic system of voting? You’re definitely counting and the counting of the people does not necessarily determine the outcome. (I’m sure there is a work-around, but in pure theoretical terms…)

8 a { 04.04.12 at 9:14 am }

Also, the Wolvog’s loyalty is admirable.

9 a { 04.04.12 at 9:18 am }

One more thing – you should watch those animated Christmas specials, because then you would know that Joseph and Mary travelled on a donkey, not a camel. And animated Christmas specials are never wrong. 🙂

10 Justine { 04.04.12 at 9:32 am }

I used to have to write an annual report for my program each year, and I hated it. Because the report featured numbers that to me, didn’t tell the whole story: how many students got grants, how many students participated in a given program, how much money we gave out, how many participated in the symposium. But there were things like the one student for whom the experience was transformative: she was a first generation Latina who never thought about graduate school before, and wound up in TWO graduate programs. Or the one who found out she didn’t want to go to medical school, but to art school instead. Those were the meaningful things for me, and it pained me to know that they weren’t counted.

I still count comments (though I seem to be commenting more than writing lately so I’m now in the negative area). I can’t help it: growing up, I always wanted to be popular, and that tendency is hard to shake. But the content of the comments is more important to me, so perhaps I’ve made some strides. 😉 I also count pounds on the scale … and sometimes measure my self-worth in BMI. Those are my darker days. I think we all have them.

11 Mina { 04.04.12 at 10:14 am }

Even though I am vain enough to keep a public blog, somehow I never git hung up on numbers related to this activity. I have no idea how many posts I posted, even though WP dutifully tells me every time I post, I just can’t remember it for more than five minutes. Stats and number of comments also don’t matter, and this is surprising to me, I reply to each of them now, because I love the dialogue and interaction. But I can’t explain why I don’t link numbers with validation. Perhaps it is my technology ineptitude or something missing in my brain… Whatever it is, I am glad it is so. One less thing to worry.

If I don’t comment these days, it means I was too busy or blogger worked against me again.

I too wonder about the people that are lost in the counting process. I thought many of them are children. Until I got lost myself and was not counted during the last census in my country. The censors thought it too much paperwork and basic thinking to fill in the forms for my husband and I who currently reside abroad, so they ignored us. It pissed me off. I am unaccounted for because of incompetence. Humph…

Your children are truly something else. I look forward to reading about them every time. So far, I would say you’ve been the greatest parents for them. Even when the tooth fairy got caught up in teeth business. 🙂

12 Mina { 04.04.12 at 10:16 am }

Git instead of got – the tablet was talking about itself, it seems. Sorry.

13 Mina { 04.04.12 at 10:26 am }

Oh, yeah, forgot to answer your question. One thing I always count, without being aware anymore, is bits of food I use when I cook. When dicing, I try to keep it an even number (don’t ask why, I do not manifest a preference for even numbers otherwise). I count the number of meat pieces, veggies (big pieces, not peas or rice…). It is something I learned from my grandmother and just can’t shake it after all this time.

14 Chickenpig { 04.04.12 at 11:09 am }

To historians like me, censuses are invaluable. For example, through the 1880 census, I learned that my great-great grandmother had a child out of wedlock when she was about 17, right during the Civil War. On the census, her son has her maiden name, and he is first written as ‘brother’, but that is stricken out and ‘son’ is written in it’s place.

My great-great grandmother also had a daughter that was born, and died, between censuses. I did not know of her existence until my mother found the family bible in my grandparents’ basement. The son she had out of wedlock was recorded on a separate page to himself. He is recorded, he had worth…but did she consider him less worthy somehow? Or was it just societal norms that caused her to not list him with the rest of her children?

15 Esperanza { 04.04.12 at 11:28 am }

The fact that in Judiasm counting people is not allowed is fascinating to me. Is there an official body that determines whether or not one’s reason for counting is good enough? (And of course in this instance I mean official counting by official organizations.) I just have a vision of people in a hall psyching themselves up to argue why counting the patients at their facility that year is necessary for a, b and c reasons and hoping the officials agree. But maybe that is just the middle school teacher in me, or the American for that matter.

It is true that I base my self worth on numbers. The numbers on a scale come immediately to mind. When my blog gets fewer hits I want to know why and I feel bad. When it has a strange, sudden spike I wonder what the hell caused it. And interestingly those momentary spikes don’t necessarily make me feel good, they just make me suspicious and unsure, like maybe stay counter made a mistake and if so, how can I even trust in the numbers anyway. I think the thing that is most hurtful/hard for me is when I write a post that I really loved or was proud of and few people comment. It’s not really the number of comments that upsets me but the lack of a conversation around the topic. I’m sad no one wanted to discuss the issue more.

My new blog doesn’t have stat counter installed and so far it’s been nice, not being able to see if anyone is going there, not being able to obsess about it. Of course the point of that site is to eventually build a following that I can point to to help sells book(s), so not only will I have to install stat counter but I’ll have to care about what it says. And I have to admit, that scares and depresses me.

My final thought is as a teacher counting is incredibly important. I have to count students in my class every period for attendance. I have to count how many homework assignments they haven’t turned in, how many questions on the test they got wrong, how many didn’t pass the test and so on. When you have 34 students in a class and you can’t look at each’s progress individually, counting becomes important. Very much so. And don’t even get me started on the counting that is attempted with standardized tests and how spectacularly that system fails and will always fail.

This is a fascinating post, one I’ll ponder for a while.

16 Cristy { 04.04.12 at 11:43 am }

This is going to be brief because I’m on my way out the door. But, two things.
1) I love that Wolvog comments broadly and only has one “friend.” That’s a mind-bender for anyone, especially since many people by default judge their self-worth based on their collection of friends.
2) I just learned about the stats on my blog. It’ is addicting to see the trends in page views and where people are coming from. But I don’t consider a post important for me based on the number of comments or views it gets. I consider it important if it is a way of sharing my thoughts in a manner that makes sense. The comments help with whether I’m conveying my message, but at the end of the day blogging is really about me sharing my views with the world.

I’ll leave a longer comment later, promise.

17 Amel { 04.04.12 at 1:09 pm }

I think The Wolvog’s primary love language is words of affirmation ‘coz he can really gives those words to everyone. 😀

Your post made me think. What do I count? I count quality time ‘coz that’s my primary love language in real life. In real life, I have only few close friends compared to other extroverts, but I prefer to be really close to them. I don’t enjoy socializing too much with strangers or acquaintances ‘coz they sap my energy. I love having me time to recharge and I’ve learnt to enjoy solitude much more after I moved to this small village in Lapland.

When it comes to my blog, though…one comment is better than none (I have more silent lurkers than actual commenters in my main blog) and I’m more than elated if there are more than one comment per post, but I do sometimes want to hear those silent lurkers’ thoughts and I wanna know what they like/enjoy/get from my posts as a feedback for me. 🙂

18 Erica { 04.04.12 at 1:43 pm }

The 1940 census data has just been released, so this post is very well timed!

I do count comments, sometimes, or blog hits, as one way to gauge what posts of mine speak to people, but one of the benefits of having a relatively small (but amazing) blog audience is that I don’t worry about it much & the counts don’t impinge on my ability to write what I want. Not that I’m not happy if I get a lot of hits – it really can be an ego boost 🙂

A good friend sent me some Madeleine L’Engle books just after Teddy died. I hadn’t read them for a long time, but in one book, A Wind in the Door, a cherubim (a singular cherubim) talks about the importance of names and knowing names. Your post made me think about that – about how what’s really important to me is to be known. It’s still almost frighteningly important to me that people know Teddy’s name and somehow know him, even though he didn’t get to be here very long, and that’s one of the things I love about this online community – that he is remembered and loved, by people I’ve never even met in person. It’s overwhelming (in a very good way) to think about it.

19 KH99 { 04.04.12 at 2:01 pm }

I have the same thought about people who aren’t counted because they fall between censuses. I read “Alex, the Life of a Child” when I was younger, and she died when she was 9. She was born after the 1970 census but died before the 1980 one and the thought that her life never officially counted haunted me.

This will sound really petty and ridiculous, but I count birthday and Christmas cards. Last year we received significantly fewer, and I vacillated between wondering if others had a busy year too or if we had been removed from lists (and I send cards every year).

20 JustHeather { 04.04.12 at 2:33 pm }

I count the potatoes (and other fruits & veggies) as I put them into the baggie.

In all honesty, I was just lamenting to myself yesterday/today that no one had commented on my most recent posts. It took me a few minutes to remember and remind myself that comments are great, but I really am writing for myself and any comments are just an added bonus.

But like you said, it is hard not to count many things in our lives. It is true that numbers do matter, whether we like it or not. Although, I can’t tell you how many friends I have on FB, that just doesn’t really matter to me. (Maybe I need to go look, just so I know.)

21 Jo { 04.04.12 at 6:59 pm }

There are so many threads within this post that I could branch off of…you really have blown MY little mind, as well, Mel! Despite the time-focused posts on my blog, I find that I count very few things. I count the kids in my classroom for various reasons, I count their papers when I collect them. Beyond that — I mostly count time TTC. Interestingly, I count the babies we lost as three, and not as the number of embryos we transferred. I don’t count the number of embryos we created. I count years TTC, but couldn’t tell you what CD I am on. I keep track of how old I am, but couldn’t tell you how old my stepsister is. I find it very telling what I count, but even more so what I don’t.

22 Tireegal { 04.04.12 at 7:04 pm }

I think this is a great post. I am in love with your children. I wonder where the Wolvog learned to be such a cheerleader? Perhaps from his gorgeous mom who has a way with words herself?!
How does one do this sort of stuff online?! Wild!
As for counting. I am someone who counts the numbers obsessively for the process but not the outcome do I will put things in groups of two or four but not be interested in the end number. I think that I used to count comments but now there are less I have really worked on just being grateful to get a comment. I look to see where people are coming from to read because it’s on my blog sidebar, but I rarely count visits.
I didn’t know the Jewish approach to gratuitous counting and I like it a lot. Thank you for this post. And the one on external validation. I related very much to it. As someone who is mostly in the domestic sphere it feels validating to me to have ‘the outside world’ recognise me in the form of FB comments and emails. Although I don’t have alerts for anything but texts or I think I would obsess too much. But I do get validated by text messages!

23 Her Royal Fabulousness { 04.04.12 at 8:03 pm }

I think I just realized that I am a counter. I never thought of it that way before but your post just shed some light. What things do I count? What don’t I count?!

In the classroom, I spend my day counting. Counting children, counting assignments (to make sure they all turned them in), counting minutes left on the clock… 🙂

But, for my own validation, I think I count a lot. The number on the scale, as pp said, is a biggie. But this post is well-timed because I had my evaluation meeting with my boss today. In my own mind, the number on my salary was really crucial to how I perceived his opinion of my teaching. Because my % raise was higher than the average, I felt validated. Sick, but true. Of course, some verbal commentary on how good my teaching is helped.

I also look at my blog stats – I can’t help it. I am fascinated that some posts I think are great don’t get the hits that some others do. But all around, my blog makes me feel 100% validated because so many amazing women (ahem, wink) come comment and participate with me.

Excellent post.

24 Hope { 04.04.12 at 10:18 pm }

This post really made me think, especially the part about blog comments and stats. I used to fixate on number of comments and my daily stats, and then, I took most of my posts password protected, for personal reasons. Now, even though I’m not getting as many comments, I feel much more fulfilled, because each comment is so meaningful to me. I know each person who comments on my protected posts regularly, and I follow their blogs extra closely. And since each individual comment is so meaningful, I feel much *less* driven to count the comments or look at my stats.

The numbers don’t matter. In fact, they never really did. Looking at my stats gave me a kind of rush, but it also created a kind of pressure to bring in more and more comments and page views. Going password protected freed me from that pressure, to just focus on writing what I want to write, enjoying the comments that come, and not worrying about how “popular” my blog is. It was a real liberation.

So I guess all of this is to say that I can see why counting people isn’t always such a great idea.

Very interesting, thought provoking post–thank!

25 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.05.12 at 12:55 am }

I am loving this series. But I’m on a phone and must respond tomorrow. Fascinating!

26 md { 04.05.12 at 7:31 am }

great post. love reading about the twins, they have such interesting and generous personalities! loved your last post on validation too; in fact, as a coincidence (i feel like this about so many of your posts, it’s quite serendipitous!) i read it just after getting my first smartphone and wanting to post about loving my new connectiveness!

numbers don’t matter to me all that much, and i generally don’t remember many. there was a time when i worried about my weight..

27 tara { 04.05.12 at 1:07 pm }

I tend to count (everything) when I’m tired- physically or emotionally. It’s like the numbers become amplified by my insecurity which is amped up by exhaustion. I like the idea of not counting – it’s just that I spend so much time with numbers that I would have a difficult time actually not counting.

28 Lori Lavender Luz { 04.05.12 at 8:13 pm }

I am a born counter. I know how many stairs have been in each place I’ve lived in. I like numbers; they help me organize and live in my world.

I had never thought about the census in that way. I suppose the opposite would be the elderly person who fills out the census form and then keels over. Her presence would be validated for the next 10 year in a way that presence of the child you mention would not be. Though people are not interchangeable.

I love the Jewish girl who is versed in the Gospels, I love learning about minhag, and like others, I adore your children.

You’ve made me think more about external measurements of success. It’s so silly, really, measuring one’s worth by those 80 comments (which I would sacrifice a goat to the comment gods for) but I do it.

29 clare { 04.06.12 at 6:57 am }

wow, i really loved this and have read it several times and am overwhelmed by the different thought comments that occurred while reading. This fit right into my ongoing thinking about determine what ‘counts’ enough to count. And how in education and special education (my field), there is this obsession with countable things, and how frustrating it is for me to know both that (a) what we count gets more attention/funds and (b) that only works for some things, and other important things slip through the cracks because they are hard to count. I think my biggest worry for education at the moment is this idea that you can test test test and that will somehow fix things — but you can’t test for a kids learning to take new risks, or trying out new words, or new skills that aren’t yet mastered yet, or creative thinking, or being loyal to sisters and passionate about software. You test what is easy to mark/grade… and I think that also happens a bit in our social media and social lives as well.

I had no idea that Judaism had a rule around counting people. Once again, I am impressed. I guess my little contact with the religion has always left me with the impression that there are these rules that help remind people to think about the everyday habits and actions we do. There is something lovely to me about having a rule not to judge yourself and others with, but to remind yourself to see the unintended consequences of our actions — even a little action like counting people at a party — and perhaps where exactly that line is isn’t the important thing, but the thought that goes into see what happens on each side of that line. . It’s so easy to count people — and totally not witness them or know them or really care that much about them. And the reverse is true… many people can truly hear and feel and connect with many people, and have no sense of the length of the roster.

I think these are really important ideas to be thinking about… and I suspect I will be for awhile

30 SuzannaCatherine { 04.07.12 at 2:38 pm }

I loved this post. Especially the parts about the twins. I have a grandson who is approximately their age and I cannot imagine him programming software. You have a little genius there.

31 Emily @ablanket2keep { 04.07.12 at 11:59 pm }

I adore ChickieNob and Wolvog! Most recently I have been counting stitches while I crochet so I don’t mess up the pattern. Counting also keeps my mind off other things.

32 Bea { 04.08.12 at 9:52 am }

For future reference, put me down as busy and/or reading on the phone.

I haven’t really got any thoughts on this yet. In one way, it’s great to be looking for signs of external validation. What kind of arsehole would we be if we never wanted to please anyone but ourselves? (Which also explains why some situations call for arseholes- when those arseholes are doing the right thing even though it will make them unpopular – though it must be admitted that such situations are few and far between.) On the other hand, you don’t want to be a slave to popularity. Give and take etc. two way streets.



33 Bea { 04.08.12 at 9:56 am }

Oh yes. To answer your question, at present I count dollars spent per month. Thriftiness= smarts, freedom, adherence to higher goals, or some such.

34 jodifur { 04.09.12 at 8:45 am }

I’m trying very hard not to care about that fact that my blog stats are going in the wrong direction, like down. Way down. Like what does it really matter? Very interesting question. I may write about this.

35 Corey Feldman { 04.09.12 at 10:03 am }

I have been obsessing about my stats lately. Mostly because I have been posting a tremendous amount of very person information. As well as a poetry series I want to turn into a series of children’s books. which is actually even harder for me to post than the other stuff. I so I have been monitoring my stats a lot. And I obsesses over comments, and the lack therefore of. I know it gets spread out with Facebook comments, likes and shares. But I rarely get comments on the posts, and I find myself bothered by that. It’s silly I know.

36 Stinky Weaselteats { 04.12.12 at 6:54 pm }

Oh wow. Now do I comment on this post or not . . . oh, wait, I already have. I loved the direction of this post, didn’t know where it was going at all. But yeah, blog stats . . . . I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look from time to time. I was a lot more aware on the last blog, because it had a little box saying how many followers I had, and I’d notice if that went up or down and wonder what I had done to change that (if anything?). I think Lori at RRASHM wrote on this recently too, so its in my head. I don’t count comments now. I know moving over to wordpress decimated most followers, and I can’t see exactly who is following unless they sign up by email. I was aware of that whole “why am I blogging” and trying to determine what kind of posts were preferred and that, to me, is dangerous territory – if I can’t write those posts, should I just not bother?
Lots of existentialblogangst! Setting up again kinda from scratch kinda provides a reason to blog “for me” again – I imagine if I were in the realm of 50 comments on each posts, I might have a different perspective of the why’s of my posting . . .
Then again I visited a blog (Single infertileWoman?Something like that) with no comments on at all, and wondered for a minute or two if thats the tack I should take . . . then felt a bit irritated that I wanted to comment on one of her posts and couldn’t . . . and thought about the ‘support’ aspect . . . and how, while its nice to have that commentysupport, I shouldn’t be trying to elicit that from people I really don’t know other than their words on a screen, as in real life, I’d rather connect meaningfully with few people than trvially with hundreds . . . interesting food for more thought.

was thinking while I wrote this – the demographic I guess, that I tend to come to this blog and read a few posts in one go (as you may have gathered from my commentbombs this morning) . . . I don’t see an option for subscribing for updates (so thats a good thing, right, that I know where to head when I have blogcatchuptime?!), usually get updates through email (which means I rarely comment, just read at work or on the way to) or on the dashboard at blogger from my old blog (easier to just go there to keep up with the subscribed blogs in one place). Different ways of reading I guess

37 Jennifer M. { 05.26.12 at 11:51 pm }

I think being aware of your blog numbers is extremely important. Not so much because it tells you whether you’re good or not, but more of a way of keeping tabs on what areas you need to improve on in your blogging. For example, if you write what you see as a great post but no one comments on it… you might either need to learn a little more about marketing or you might need to start writing with more of an opinion so that people have something to react to (or against).

Comments are a measure of how successful you are at 1) reaching an audience and 2) inciting a reaction in them. You may love your post but if no one comments on it, you’re probably doing one of those two things wrong.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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