I'm beginning to hate the term "follower," and I'm fighting back however I can. Here, on the blog, I can't recall ever referring to the people that have chosen to read my thoughts as "followers." If they've opted to join the blog, I refer to them as "members." If they've not yet done so, then they're "readers."
I'm a writer, not a cult leader. Cult leaders have followers. I have readers, which is my preference.
Just recently, I was finally able to convince the Blogger software to let me change the terminology on the sidebar from "Followers" to "Members," and I would swear before a judge that it got petulant when I did it.
The same terminology applies on Twitter, but oddly, not on Facebook. This is one place where I think Facebook is superior. There, you have "friends." Let's be honest - that's overstating the case many times, but it beats "followers" by a factor of ten. The fact that a relationship must be two-way is also a plus. On Twitter, unless I physically block every moron that decides to follow/read my work, I can't stop them from beginning a relationship. And the truth be known, I could care less about anyone I'm not following back. That's no relationship.
On Twitter, I have "followers." On Facebook, I have "friends." But here, in my preferred domain, I have readers. Some of these readers have become members, which I do like. But since being a member implies - at some level - membership, I've decided there should be some "thank you."
This is one way I can do it. Let me introduce you to the members (using whatever names with which they joined the blog):
Bryan - He's a frequent commentor (particularly about politics - where we pretty much never agree). He's a longtime friend, former roommate, and one of the funniest people you'll ever meet. He blogs primarily as Almost Dangerous.
Fossie - She's another longtime friend (she'd hate it if I said old friend), and the wife of another good friend of mine. She's sweet, kind, and as protective of her friends as a mother bear of her cubs. She has a blog, Fossie's Bloggings.
Thomas Beck - He's one of my best friends, and a cousin-of-sorts-by-marriage. We've been roomies a couple of times and professional colleagues several times. He is a frequent commentor here. He's a professional photographer, and has one of the professional sites, Beck Photographic. Please check out his work.
Kelly - Kelly is my sister-in-law, and mother of two of the little hellions whose pictures I posted a few months ago - Tylar and Reilly. She is a phenomenally talented graphic designer, and has her own site, Kelly Furr Creative - and after several years in agency work, her own business.
Stewart - This is one of my friends and good buddies from Mississippi. He's also an ex-gaming buddy that managed to escape most of the stigma of that time. He's a writer, too, but unless things have changed in the recent past, he has no site and no blog.
Tony Durham - Tony is the oldest friend with whom I still speak. We met Day One in college, and have known each other since. Like me, he's a proud, happy geek and has no plans to change. He's a pretty frequent commentor here. So far, he's avoided blogs, sites, and Facebook pages.
James Griffith - This is another old friend of mine - and by old, I mean just that. :-) He is an unabashed Star Trek geek, loves science fiction in all forms, and has the greatest tolerance for bad movies I've ever seen in a human being. He's also married to a woman we all love, and is one of the most optimistic pessimists I know.
Adam Slade - Adam was the first member to join here that wasn't from my "real life" circle of friends. He's a fantasy writer from the UK with his own blog, My Muse Is a Vampire, and a well-known Twitter presence amongst us writers. He's also got better hair than I do, and I'm jealous.
DrSteggy - She was the first "perfect stranger" to join the blog, and she does desire her privacy. I will, of course, respect that, but I'd like to let her know how much I appreciate her joining. It actually boggled my mind that someone out of the blue joined.
Pan Historia - I don't actually know this man's name. I've called him "Pan" most of the time, even though he often goes by "Wyatt" - taken from Wyatt Earp. As Wyatt, he runs a blog/roleplaying/interactive fiction site that you should check out. I'm a member on Pan Historia. Are you?
Jenna - I'll have to say that Jenna is one of my favorite conversationalists on Twitter. She's from Australia, so the times we chat are odd ones - evenings/nights for me, and while she's at work. She's hysterically funny, painfully shy, and has shockingly good taste in music. Together, we're going to destroy the world tomorrow. By accident. Her blog: Jenna Cosgrove.
Diana - She, too, came from Twitter, where she won me over as a witty, erudite writer with mad skills of her own. This true lady hails from the UK, where I bet she throws off the genteelity grade curve in her corner of the world. She has a blog, The Urban Nutter's Journal, which stars her, her pets, and anyone unfortunate enough to become a character.
Brad Huffman-Parent - As you should be aware, Brad is the writer of Steel Rising, an indie comic with which he and his colleagues are competing at Dimestore Productions' "Small Press Idol" competition. They're good! Go here to help them out. Brad has his own blog, also titled Steel Rising.
Identity Krysis - This young lady is my Vancouver connection, and for those of you who know how much I liked Vancouver, you know that's a big deal. She's a tremendously talented writer whose blog, also called Identity Krysis, combines brutally open, honest emotion and prose fiction with the soul of poetry. You should be reading this.
Rebecca Anne - This Idaho woman is on her way to becoming a blog phenom. Her site, Provocation of Mine (d), gets more regular hits than any writing-based blog I know. She's good; she's really good. She is also funny, self-deprecating, and willing to admit to anything for a laugh - or to make a point. If you can find it, you should read her Watchmen post. I actually laughed so hard I cried.
Steph Infection - Steph is a improperly proper political lefty - a military wife. She comes to battle with the same snark and sarcasm I often deploy, but she does it in a more subtle (I won't say nicer; I'm afraid she wouldn't appreciate that) way. From the land of "poofy bangs," her blog is No One Can Own Your Soul.
Michael Gillman - Michael is one of my best Twitter-chums. He's laugh-out-loud funny, open, cranky, opinionated, and a solid liberal. Sound familiar? He also seems to like things like Miatas and fine wines, where I just grunt and say, "it's red." In other words, he's the kind of guy I want to be when I eventually grow up. Except for the Miata part - and that's just weird.
Brendan Garbee - Brendan drops in here from time to time, but like me, he holds court at his own blog - Brendan Garbee's Blog. You must see this. Combining fiction, essays, poetry, art, sound, and whatever he can think of, this might be the best multi-media literary blog out there. I'm not exaggerating. Go on. Check it out.
Helen H David - This lady appeared on my radar a couple of months ago, both here and on Twitter. Unfortunately, I haven't seen her either place, and her blogs haven't been updated in a while. I'm wishing her well, and hoping she checks in. She has two blogs: Gluten-Free Southern Cooking, and (I love this!) Ink in My Sweet Tea.
Imagyst - This young lady and I crossed paths while playing an odd blog-based game created by Seth Simonds, a frequent Twitterer. She logged onto here during the game and left the password, "burrito." (Seth also did, hence the burrito references.) I went to her blog, Heaven for Hell, and found a young person struggling with adulthood. In other words, she's all of us.
Ray Onativia - Ray hails from the land of taxicabs and delicatessens, and brings with him a certain urbane flair. He's also warm, friendly, and someone I genuinely enjoy chatting with. He's a hell of an interesting guy, and his blog, Ray Onativia Blog, is home to many fine poems. Not coincidentally, he wrote them.
Erin - This is one of the nicest people I think I've chatted with on Twitter, but don't get me wrong - "nice" is not her definition. She's whip-smart, funny, logical, determined, and observant. She has a wonderful blog, Death By Foo-Foo. She combines her own geek interests with raw emotional life. Please check it out.
Brayden Potter - This young man who hails from Australia was the first to join from Yahoo! Answers, where we both are members of the Books & Authors group. He is an aspiring writer, an asker of questions both funny and honest, and a likeable chap, all in all. I once gave him grief for some not-so-well written work, and he responded like a longtime veteran - with thanks for the criticism, and an earnest attempt to learn. There are many folks who could learn from him.
Lastly, I have to mention TwoTalia, who is not a member, but is my most frequent beta-reader. Her criticism is absolutely invaluable to me, and I wish others (hello!) were as thorough. I'm afraid I'm going to go on Talia Withdrawal when she goes on vacation. Everyone say "Hi." She's greater than great.
Thanks for indulging me in this - my way of saying "thank you." And if you get bored, and are looking for other things to read, other sites to gaze upon, check these links. There are some worthy folks here, and I'm happy they're members.
I think I'm going to call them all "friends."