‘What’s Your Traffic?’ is the new ‘What’s Your Major?’

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.

Run awaaaaaaaaaay.

30 comments on “‘What’s Your Traffic?’ is the new ‘What’s Your Major?’

  1. Erin - August 7, 2005 at 8:55 am -

    okay, so i came straight back to your site.
    am. loser.

    as for my traffic? i think most of my traffic comes from me checking my site to check on my traffic.
    i’m traffic-less.

    hug me? 😉

  2. Amy Steier - August 7, 2005 at 9:36 am -

    If I tell you what my traffic is, do you promise not to laugh?

  3. meme - August 7, 2005 at 9:39 am -

    I like to light candles and get naked before I check my traffic stats.

  4. kristine - August 7, 2005 at 10:17 am -

    i have the Real McCoy stuck in my head now.

  5. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 10:21 am -

    Why the Real McCoy?

  6. The Moviequill - August 7, 2005 at 11:09 am -

    Now you have one more Writer Car on your highway. I am not the comfy old Cadillac cruising down, more a fresh off the assembly line Chevy…

  7. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 11:17 am -

    As long as there is road, there is room for more cars.

  8. amandarin - August 7, 2005 at 11:44 am -

    At least it’s better than What’s your sign?

  9. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 11:45 am -

    You have a point there, A.

  10. YeahGrace - August 7, 2005 at 1:15 pm -

    I check my web traffic everytime i get online.first track down the person who visited my blog and go to their websites, leave a msg hoping they can come back again someday…i am sad.

  11. lisa - August 7, 2005 at 1:44 pm -

    I think I fall into the “I hate stats” category. Some of my friends talk about web traffic, and some of my friends talk about car traffic, and I pretty much zone out from either conversation.

  12. Kris - August 7, 2005 at 1:50 pm -

    Is this really what it’s come to?

    Whatever happened to a straight up “Want to come home with me?” Oh well.

    Thanks for coming by my blog . . .

  13. Sally - August 7, 2005 at 2:32 pm -

    You’re my traffic – or you were today – thank you for reading my blog. I wish I was blogbrainy enough to know how to check my traffic – I have the freebie sitemeter thing but I never understand it.

    I never believe anyone reads my blog. My life is seriously not that interesting! But you did Paul – thank you – and I love your writing…..

    Sally (the nearly famous actor)

  14. Ivan - August 7, 2005 at 2:45 pm -

    Wow, those are a bunch of hits. Last day I got really happy cause my site’s unique visitors boosted to 25 :D. Woohoo!.

  15. kristine - August 7, 2005 at 3:38 pm -

    because of the last line, PAUL.

    run awaaaay, run awaaay, run away and save your liiiife…
    got to break free
    run away.

  16. Daniel - August 7, 2005 at 4:55 pm -

    You mean people actually ask you what your traffic is at parties? I mean my friends running online businesses talk about that with each other, but at a party is kind of weird. Of course, I only think that way because I draw a line between my digital and real (analog???) life. Maybe someday I’ll lose the distinction, and begin start doing this too. I’ll have to make arrangements for my friends to slap me if I do. 😉

  17. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 7:00 pm -

    Daniel – Yes. People ask me this at parties. Mind you, they must also be a part of this digital world. You know, my grandma doesn’t ask me.

  18. Janet - August 7, 2005 at 7:13 pm -

    What’s your traffic? That’s one I’ve never heard before. I can’t even honestly answer it either. I just switched to a dotcom and I have a redirect from the old site so right now I get a lot of visits from…”myself”.

  19. Helena - August 7, 2005 at 7:26 pm -

    Hm…I don’t know if it counts as “on topic,” but at a party last night someone did ask me how many friends I had on Myspace. Swear to god. I’m embarrassing myself admitting I have a page there, just so I can embarrass this dude more. Once I realized we weren’t going to be discussing film, hobbies, or anything remotely stimulating, I excused myself.

    As I walked away, he called out, “See you on Myspace!”

    See you on Myspace, Pauly. What have we come to?

  20. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 7:30 pm -

    How many friends do you have on Myspace?

    It’s worse than I thought, Helena. It’s worse than I thought.

  21. C(h)ristine - August 7, 2005 at 7:39 pm -

    restaurant adage: “it’s better to serve one customer ten times, then to serve ten customers one time.”

    summary: web traffic is not a good measure of your readership! 🙂

    and yep — people are counting friends on orkut/friendster and such! very problematic, very problematic…it’s high school all over again!

  22. C(h)ristine - August 7, 2005 at 7:40 pm -

    ohsh*t. I meant “than,” i meant “than!” not “then!” i just executed one of my own pet peeves!

  23. Neil - August 7, 2005 at 9:52 pm -

    I find if I go to a friend’s computer and hit my site several hundred times in a row, I greatly improve my own stats.

  24. Pauly D - August 7, 2005 at 9:57 pm -

    Next time you do that, Neil, hit me a couple hundies too.

  25. groovebunny - August 8, 2005 at 5:38 pm -

    LOL When I read the title of this entry I seriously thought it was going to be an entry on freeway traffic since it’s horrendous up there and has been horrendous down here for the past few years. I guess that makes me one of those people one should embrace and never let go? Or if not, even a high five would suffice. 🙂

  26. nic - August 9, 2005 at 7:47 am -

    Hate stats? Somewhere, I read that exactly 85.3% of all statistics were made up.

  27. Diann - August 9, 2005 at 8:55 am -

    I love this post!

    One question: do bloggers actually go out to parties?!

  28. Pauly D - August 9, 2005 at 9:03 am -

    Why, yes Diann. They do.

  29. Tina - August 10, 2005 at 3:04 pm -

    “What’s your traffic?” Hey, there, rude-y.

    The sad thing is that until I read this post, I secretly sort of thought I had a lot of traffic going on. Now I understand that my traffic is hilariously low.

    Not that I care.

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