Some people set up counters on their blogs to record the number of viewings. It's certainly interesting to know how many make it to the blog, and may be coming back.
The lists of followers can be long or short. I couldn't hazard a guess at what a long list of (say) 150 followers implies. One certainly doesn't get 150 comments on every blog. You can of course follow without commenting; but doesn't that defeat some of the purpose of making online diaries open to public view? They are there to invite comment. And that includes sympathy or support where deserved.
Now and then any blog worth following will put out a post that merits a jolly good response. More particularly, any post that touches realistically on the agonies and joys of transition - especially if eloquently written, and containing useful information - deserves a comment, even if it's only an acknowledgement of the effort made. There are quite a lot of such posts. I don't always see the comments though. A pity for the bloggers concerned!
I see that I have 50 followers at the moment, but less than half a dozen regularly say anything about my posts - thank you, those concerned! - and I suspect that if everyone carried out a spring clean on blogs they followed, that 50 would shrink away fast. But of course fame is not the name of the game. Self-expression is. Blogging is a great outlet for that, in a way that churning out ephemeral one-liners for Facebook is not. I got nothing from my short period on Facebook. It clearly wasn't the right platform if you wished to put out an essay on the meaning of life, or something like that. I still think that I'll never have a use for Facebook and other sites that are all basically just a way of reminding people of your existence.
Not that this blog lacks its own trivial, best-forgotten content. From May 2010 Blogger began to compile statistics. Apparently in the last 11 months I've had 30,261 'pageviews' of which 3,854 were in the last month. Sounds impressive, but what does it mean exactly? And anyway these aren't the sort of figures associated with the most popular items on You Tube.
But here is something that I am really pleased with. Again, I'm not preening my feathers over it, but it means much to me. A little landmark passed a couple of days ago.
50,000 people have now viewed my pages on Flickr, the photo-hosting website, since I set it up in February 2009 - about when I began this blog. I know that by October 2009 (8 months in) the viewings had reached 10,000. They reached 20,000 by February 2010. And now (27 months in) they have climbed to 50,000. With some occasional comments too, mostly very positive. It feels like an achievement. This is an area where I'm seeking viewings. Originally I thought the viewing stats might indicate whether my stuff was 'commercial', in case I needed to generate some extra cash with my professional Nikon and lenses. But that idea has receded almost completely, and nowadays I place all kinds of non-marketable stuff on Flickr. It has become the visual equivalent of this blog, recording where I've been, although not of course who was with me, to preserve the anonymity and privacy of friends and family.
But if you can't see friends, you can see me. And that's important for the people who left my life at the start of my transition. I know that some of them may still want to see how I'm getting on. The stuff on Flickr will tell them much.
I hope they realise that my life has continued, I'm not stuck in a rut, and that I've long moved on from dressing up as a schoolgirl in a pub, or dancing the night away in a loud Brighton club. That my hair has grown long. That I have a personal style. That I have Fiona. They might see me in a smart restaurant, or walking the high cliffs, or attending the opera, or caravanning, and never wearing high heels, nor anything but mascara and lipstick, and dressing down for the supermarket. They ought to understand that I'm not living the life of an 'ideal' woman, nor a 'typical' one, although I am living the life of a woman with varied interests, who thoroughly enjoys who she now is.
And I suppose the blog serves a similar purpose: to reveal what concerns me, and to show that I'm doing fine. Except for a slight difference. My Flickr site has no special focus. The blog has - to record my transition, and what comes after, which I feel must be as important as what went before. If, that is, you buy into my notion of being at this point only an 'apprentice woman', with much still to learn, and some formative experiences to anticipate.
I'm bound to say that despite my deep throaty coughs on the train yesterday, there were no denunciations from the dangerously observant kids all around. Not even when the ticket inspector on the Gatwick Express found something amiss with my return ticket, and all eyes were suddenly upon me. So my look and manner must have been all right. I suppose that summer clothing helps here: the more of your shape you can reveal, the more feminine indicators come into play. Here's me in a Gatwick Airport car park lift:
But one girl sitting with her baggage on the floor in Gatwick Airport gave me a stare as I approached. Unpurturbed, I walked tall, and stared back with arched eyebrows, and plenty of haughtiness with it; she deserved the full treatment for her cheek. The hussy.