It’s finally happened.
Not that I ever thought it wouldn’t. I mean, I always expected the “I don’t know what to say to you here at this party so I might as well ask you the one question that’ll get you talking for at least another five minutes” to eventually go the way of the Dinosaurs.
I always half-knew that asking someone What’s Your Major? would eventually just sound way too cheesy… I half-believed that there had to be something better to say to someone you just met five minutes ago?
But What’s Your Traffic? Please.
At least when you stood there opposite me and I asked you (with a cup of beer in hand) exactly what your major was, you could talk about why Psychology had always inspired you or why Social Science was a dream subject of study (yeah, right) for you since you were a little tot. You could wax on and on about how Biology was the study of life and how you “love life” and wanted to give something back to, uh, life. You could talk to me about your Film Studies Major and how you were working on a video short about your next door neighbor who drinks beer through his nose. You could ramble on about Communications and Fine Arts and English and History and whatever it was that was defining who you were at that very moment.
But your web traffic?
At least when you tell me what you study, I get a completely perfect picture of the kind of person you are. If you’re a Fine Arts Major, you’re creative and artistic and you think outside the box. If you’re a History Major, you are all about looking at the past in a way to improve the future (and you also remember EVERYTHING anyone says so I’d better not say anything I’ll regret later). If you’re a Film Studies or Communications Major, we can talk about TV and Film until the cows come home.
But if you tell me you got 400 unique visitors to your site last night, well… You got 400 unique visitors to your site last night.
I suspect, it’s all about being proud of the audience you’ve worked up to in the one big beloved thing in your life at the moment. I guess, it’s simply that you want the rest of the world to know that (much like Sally Field) “people really like you”… I assume, it’s your way of telling me that what you have to say, albeit on a digital page somewhere in the blogosphere, matters to other people as well.
But just as your major defines you, I believe your traffic does as well. And so I have put together a handy little chart so next time someone tells you their traffic stats, you know exactly where to go next in the conversation.
They say “I get over 2000 unique visitors a day…”
You can talk to them about them. They love talking about themselves. Really, or why else would they tell you they get so many hits? Ask them what their goal for World Peace is? They’ll probably have an answer that, sort of, makes sense.
They say “I get over 1000 unique visitors a day…”
You can talk to them about their inability to commit in a relationship, or to a long-term lease on a car. You can talk to them about their insecurities and self-doubt. Hell, ask them about TV — cause they’re doing a lot of TV watching while they surf the web to try and reach 2000 unique visitors a day.
They say “I’m sure I get a bunch, but I don’t know exactly how much…”
Meet the modest liar. This person, in not telling you is pretty much telling you that they get a ton of hits, but is doing so in a subtle way. Remember when you met that girl or guy who told you they weren’t sure how many previous girlfriend or boyfriends they had or how many people they’ve previously slept with? Same person. Act accordingly.
They say “I hate stats…”
This person is ripe for a new friendship. And do you want to know why? Because this person has a bunch of friends who talk about how much traffic they’re getting, all day long. And our friend here finds themselves always reluctantly involved in the conversation. They may not get as many hits as their vocal blogging pals — but they will someday, because they sorta just don’t care. Talk to them about parties, live music, the outdoors — they’re probably not in front of their computer as often as the others.
They say “If I tell you, promise to not laugh…”
We love these people. Modest, for real. Great sense of humor. Down to earth. Their lives don’t depend on numbers. You may be friends with this person forever.
They say “Traffic? No, my commute isn’t that bad…”
Embrace them. Hug them if you can. Never. Let. Them. Go.
So, if indeed, What’s Your Traffic? is the new What’s Your Major?, we may not have a choice in the matter. We may, once again, have to embrace another tired phrase that is simply a filler comment to spark conversation.
But we must also be prepared to recognize the signs. And do what we can to evolve from what is possibly the worst evolution of “the party question” as quickly as we can…
So I say, the next time someone asks you “What’s Your Traffic?” — you ask them if they’d rather be the guardian to a family of dwarfs or be a dwarf themselves… Or ask them what their thoughts are on the evolution of the Dewey Decimal system… Or ask them if they’ve heard about the urban myth about the frog, the sausage and the oil syphon? At least those questions, you know, might throw them off long enough for you to run away.