Knowing Your Audience

All writing has an audience. That’s the point. Without a potential audience what you are doing is a pointless and fruitless exercise. Writing out your thoughts allows you to put them in a coherent order and reassess whether or not it says what you want it to say, and also whether or not it’s appropriate for the audience. Writing allows something as transient as a thought to be solidified into something that can exist and be passed on to others long after the original thought occurred. And writing allows a thought from a century ago influence a new thought which will influence other thoughts.

This is important in a number of ways. We are moving into a world where there are automatic essay readers that will grade papers for you. As if the grade was the important part of the essay transaction between student and teacher. However, I’m not going to argue about that here, especially because John Warner did it so much better. He explains that

“The purpose of writing is to communicate with an audience. In good conscience, we cannot ask students to write something that will not be read. If we cross this threshold, we may as well simply give up on education.” (source)

He later doubles down on this saying

If writing assigned by a teacher is not going to be read by a human being, we can’t even call it writing, since there will never be even a hypothetical receiver of the communication (source)

But what about writing online? Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Writing in these spaces is a way of putting your ideas out into the world in a way that lets us pretend that we aren’t just shouting into the wind. There are people who will see what I wrote. Maybe.

Why do I write?

Well I don’t use Tumblr, but my Facebook account is how I keep up with friends and family. That is a specific type of writing where I know who might read it. It’s primarily photos of my son and news articles I found interesting with a smattering of what’s happening in my life.

I use twitter to engage with my profession. I do have a few friends on twitter who aren’t related in any way to my career, but the majority of people I follow and interact with are other Student Affairs or Higher Education professionals. So my audience there is other people in my field.

And my blog? Well actually that’s mainly for me. I use it as a way of getting thoughts written down (like this one). I love it when people read my blog (doesn’t happen that often), but really I write for me. So why do I pose questions as if I’m talking to someone? Because there is an audience. It’s just that I assume the majority of that audience is me.

So who do you write for?

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