November 15th, 2007
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warning: rant on blogging, read at your own risk

i’ll just come right out with it and not beat around the bush. lately I’ve been questioning this medium at length. to be honest, this is not a recent thing, but an ongoing theme for the last few years. nothing new I suppose, everyone that partakes in it goes through the same things at some point, asking themselves why they do it, feeling slightly icky at the need to put your life out in a public forum on a regular basis (read: motivated by ego). As my husband recently pontificated, isn’t a bit of ego necessary for anyone to both create and put anything out into the world, creative projects, books, music, etc.? otherwise we would just keep it all to ourselves.
and so a conundrum. preparing to have a child has brought all of these feelings to the forefront. now there is another being involved in my life, one who knows nothing yet of the internet. for some reason i don’t feel comfortable sharing as much of myself and my personal life as I used to. it feels icky, and I become more and more protective of my world, holding bits back so I can keep them for myself and my growing family.
here’s the honest truth, the real source of the ickiness for me, (dare I disturb the universe with this one?)…it has become apparent to me that in some part in the past my need to share bits of my life here, is/was in some way motivated by a need to present the world some kind of ideal way of living. as a means of presenting a beautiful picture of a life well lived. and I do feel like I live well, that is true. my intent here was never to divulge everything of my world, and so one is forced to make decisions about what is presented, which often become the things that lead others to believe that one has things figured out. which I assure you is completely not the case. (don’t trust anyone who tells you they have it all figured out, in fact those are the ones who most definitely do NOT have it figured out and are often prone to flailing).
so what am i trying to say here? I’m not sure. maybe just that I question these things and am trying to fit them into some kind of category in my head. why does blogging (and reading blogs) make me feel icky now? i’ve always believed in the power of people sharing their stories, in turn helping others to feel more human and validated in their own life. part of the answer to this has to do with self perception. i find most of us unable to see our shortcomings or real selves, which results in our presenting a deeply flawed or false perception of ourselves, (we all seem to be walking contradictions at some point or another). yet, why does this disturb me so? isn’t that just the nature of being human? yes, it is.
is it that when I see that contradiction in others, it reminds me of my own contradictions and I don’t like that. probably. what does it mean to be truly authentic?
there are two more issues at play here that I would like to speak of.
issue #1 for me in all of this is the false sense of intimacy that is created within and by this medium. I have spoken about this in the past, but probably never here for fear of offending others. (truth be told, i have found greater strength and growth from speaking my truth here, than I ever have from holding back. THAT lesson is clear to me now.) I feel like this subject could take up a whole book, maybe I will leave that one for another post.
and issue #2 is that many times the blogging world feels more like a big popularity contest, than a true medium of creativity. the goal for many to gain as many readers as possible. this fact was blatantly made clear to me at the “blogher” conference this year, where there was more said about how to promote your blog and make it a financial success than about what the blog represents and how it can contribute to the greater whole. I was incredibly saddened by a lot of what I saw there, (there was a huge room full of seemingly unrelated booths of companies selling their products, trying to gain product endorsements with free product give aways, etc. the standouts being some kind of processed cheese and butterball turkey, yes it’s true). I suppose I should not have expected anything different. but given my stance on product endorsement and corporate sponsorship I left feeling wholy disappointed and sickened about the whole thing. (I know that by writing this I may never be invited back to speak there again, but I have to speak my truth on these things, and I’ve held back for a while now.) as you all already know I believe corporate sponsorship of blogs is entirely destructive to the medium, a fact on which I will not ever waver. (please do not send me emails explaining why I am misguided on this point, if you are in opposition we will just have to agree to disagree on this one.) I am a proponent of blogging being a democratic medium, and my little fight to help it remain in this realm, however futile, is one that I must continue.
so how do I combat the feeling of blogging being a popularity contest, combined with my own trait of being a rather competitive soul? removing the comments was one step. while I miss the instant feedback from readers and the sense of having a community, on the whole I feel much more empowered by just throwing things out into the void, without the addictive tendency of checking to see how it was recieved by others, judging a post by how many comments it recieves. in some ways it makes my offering more honest, and brought me back to what it felt like in the beginning. just a place to share my thoughts and ideas, no need to measure it against what others are doing, or feel like something I said was incorrect because some unhappy soul unloaded their bad day/life onto me.
so what of the good things that come from blogging? yes there are many things that have affected my life in a positive way, which I suppose is why I still feel drawn to do it after all these years. I have indeed met a lot of wonderful like-minded people, friends (and husband) that I would not have met otherwise and for this I am eternally grateful. the soul bearing and thoughtful email that I recieve on a daily basis is something that helps me on my own journey, and gives me little signals from the universe that i am doing something good here, not just wasting my time with all of this, (something that we all need from time to time, ego driven or not).
but what of the evolution of the blog? where do we go from here knowing what we know now?
in no particular order: maintain integrity above all, continue to share some of my process (but not all), use it in a way that benefits my work/life and not in ways that take away from it, (we’ve been having internet free weekends in our house for a few months now and it’s been wonderful!), continue to put things out into the world that I feel good about, continue to speak my truth at the risk of being ostracized and criticized by the greater community, (yes this does happen).
I will leave the last words here to George Perec, who is know for his more lighthearted writings that make everyday life a form of play, (a man after my own heart). in this quote he is writing about a need to classify things, and create some kind of order by doing so. I thought when I read it that it seems a good metaphor for life and ‘thinking about life’. ending on this note may seem a contradiction of what I have written here to some, and I can only answer, “yes, in a way it is. i am.”
My problem with classifications is that they don’t last; hardly have I finished putting things into an order before that order is obsolete. Like everyone else, I presume, I am sometimes seized by a mania for arranging things. The sheer number of the things needing to be arranged and the near-impossibility of distributing them according to any truly satisfactory criteria means that I never finally manage it, that the arrangements I end up with are temporary and vague, and hardly any more effective that the original anarchy….In short, I muddle along.”
here’s to muddling along.

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