Boy, I hate that dress.
Not too long ago this statement wouldn’t even have made sense, but now visiting Twitter and looking up “#thedress” leads you to millions of blog posts, photos, and comments about this recent social media trend. Even Hollywood actors and well-known musicians have started jumping onto this bandwagon. Now it seems that no matter where I look I end up staring at that infernal dress, and that every single human being I know has written something about it.
Just on the off chance that your head has been buried in the cultural sand, the dress in question appears in the following photo, which made quite a commotion when it was posted on Tumblr. The question is, does the dress color appear to be white and gold, or does it look like royal blue and black to you? The answer, by the way, isn’t as easy as you might think. Different people could look at the same photo and come to completely different conclusions, showing that different people’s eyes process color and account for lighting in slightly different ways.
While the science behind all this was interesting, I have to be honest. The way “the dress” held the internet hostage for about a week was so annoying that I simply avoided social media like the plague for a while. And now I’m doing something I swore to myself I would never do…
That’s right. I’m writing about the dress.
Writing Trends – Friend or Foe?
No matter what type of writing you do, eventually this question is going to come up. When trendy topics and styles take our culture by storm, will you choose to ignore the trend or jump onto that wave and ride it out?
Some would say that writing and tweeting about popular, “trending” topics is one of the best ways to widen one’s online audience and increase traffic to your site. Others, however, would say that this type of writing makes a mockery of the profession.
Are writing trends good or evil? Well… that’s a little bit like asking whether the dress is white or blue, isn’t it?
Writing to Audiences with Differing Perspectives
At the end of the day, every one of our readers has a unique perspective. When we choose to write a piece – on any topic – we will appeal to some readers while annoying others. Seasoned writers just learn to deal with this. And of course, we constantly remind ourselves that we don’t write for the approval of others.
But is there a way to capitalize on social media trends without having the writing “purists” run away from your site screaming?
I do think that we should put careful thought into where, when, and how we advertise our writing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned regarding advertising on various sites:
Facebook – People gather here to catch up with family and friends. By advertising personal or family-related posts here (complete with a family picture), I can draw my Facebook friends to my blog. As for those trending topics – well – a lot of people sound off on popular issues here, but unless the post is really funny or makes a personal connection, it isn’t going to do well.
Twitter – Those who gather on Twitter feed off of the energy created by trending topics, and absolutely love having a world-wide conversation about a popular topic or issue. If you’re going to write about a trending topic, this is absolutely the place to let others know about it.
WordPress – Granted, there are all types of people on WordPress and other blogging sites. From my experience, however, most who take the time to blog consider themselves to be a little more academic and think of themselves as serious writers. If you’re going to advertise a trending topic in a forum like this, you better make sure you do so in a very intelligent and creative way.
How About You?
Do you have any other wisdom to share about navigating the stormy waters of popular writing trends? Do you personally find posts on trendy topics to be exciting or revolting?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post was submitted as part of IWSG, a fellowship of writers who agree to post on the first Wednesday of every month with encouragement and tips for other writers.
14 thoughts on ““The Dress” and Writing Trends”
I’ts pink and orange…right? 😉
I laughed aloud at my husband’s friend’s response to the dilemma. He emphatically stated that the question of color is irrelevant. “The correct answer is: No, the dress does not make you look fat”
Do you personally find posts on trendy topics to be exciting or revolting?
Depends on how they are handled. It’s annoying when the writer is obviously riding the wave of opportunity just to stir the pot of contention or to garner personal attention. But I like to believe that a Christian ought to be able to redeem such discussion points in order to point others to Christ. If the topic can be redeemed in such a way, it’s fair game, IMO.
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Now, that’s a great response. Thanks, Heather, and I think you’re right! These trends are a lot like major holidays – those Christians who choose to take advantage of them will find golden opportunities for sharing the Gospel at a time when everyone seems to be listening! Thanks for your thoughts!
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Facebook has gotten scary. The back-stabbing is relentless. Although I still promote my blog posts there, I stay away from the site.
The dress — I saw that the other day. I really can’t tell what it looks like. I would think, however, that you’d have to be a size 2 to look halfway decent in it.
Ha! Now there’s something I never thought of!
I was rather bewildered by the hashtags on twitter as #thedress and its colours appeared. The issues it raises (about colour perception) are relevant to my post for Saturday (7) and I have written about it. Interesting to ask whether this is jumping on a bandwagon or showing that we are aware of current affairs. Sue
And that’s a good point…showing that we’re aware of breaking stories can keep our writing culturally relevant. I think it can be a good thing, as long as we’re contributing something new and fresh to the conversation…
Have a good one, Sue!
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I saw the small photo of the dress on my AOL page but wasn’t interested in it. I have never visited even Facebook. I love email and Word Press (and Google.) So much else is just noise to me. Am I a Luddite?
Oh, you’re probably better off (and have a lot less wasted time) than the rest of us! I look at Facebook occasionally, but not all the time. It’s nice to keep up with my family and friends, but a lot of it really is just noise…
When I see things like that dress in my newsfeed on facebook I usually scroll right past them because for some reason they aren’t that interesting to me, but when I then notice that lots of people are posting about it I will end up briefly looking at it.
WordPress is a place that I go to with a specific set of interests, and tend to only visit blogs that write about similar subject matter as I write. I also read the comments of others who have read a person’s blog post, and if I notice that a comment seems really thought out I will visit their blog, and if I really appreciate what they have to say I will in turn become a follower. Once I am a follower, if I notice a post regarding a trendy issue that I normally ignore on facebook I will usually read it just to see what they had to say.
Thanks for your thoughts, Theresa! I agree that blogging is all about relationships, and if we consistently provide good work people will be more willing to glance at a post, even if the subject annoys them a bit at first. Building relationships is time consuming, but definitely important!
I just thought of something else. Whenever I get an email that someone I have never heard of liked one of my posts or started following my blog I then visit there blog at least once and even if they write about a subject that has limited appeal I try to find a post that I can click on “like”. If their blog is so unappealing (like maybe a blog on where to get the best deal on aluminum siding…lol) I might simply go to their “about” section and thank them for visiting my blog. I do that just in case they are drawn to my blog for the Lord’s purpose. I want those readers to know that I care.
That’s a good practice….and you never know what great blogs you might discover along the way!
Great post! Definitely something to consider. I’ve honestly never really pondered the concept of writing trends being a ‘do’ or ‘don’t’. I guess it’s all in the approach 🙂
I think you’re exactly right – I’ve seen it done well and I’ve seen it done poorly. Just like any other time, making sure our writing is both interesting and helpful can go a long way, even when touching on trendy topics!
Have a good one!
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