Why I love blogging.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

When I was a little kid, my favourite book was Matilda. Literally, I wanted to be her (minus the whole neglectful parents and crazy headteacher thing). I saw myself in her; in those illustrations, of a little tiny kid with long scraggly hair and an insatiable love of books. I fell in love with reading at the same time she did, and I remember looking at an illustration of a tiny little girl with her head peeping over a huge book and thinking: 'That's me!'. I wrote my own stories, on paper and on our ancient PC (hilarious stories, either to do with a girl whose parents decided to open up a pet sanctuary, or a girl standing up to bullies and also, weirdly, surviving freak hurricanes).

Yes, I have always been that nerdy and sentimental. And I still have that copy of Matilda on my bookshelf.


I think that love of a good story has always stayed with me. I always, always wanted to write in some way, shape or form. I felt more myself when I was writing. But I never felt I had what it took, and more importantly, I never felt brave enough to share what I wrote. So it got lost. Real life happened instead.

But that need to write never left me.

***

I recently went on a blogging break. Only a week or so. It wasn't really to do with the blog, really, it was more to do with ... the whole internet. I think I had an 'oh, wow, the internet really sucks' moment (again). I caught a load of intense snark on Twitter, and then I read a deeply cynical and almost angry blog post written by a Christian (whose entire blog was pretty cynical actually). To be clear: I don't expect Christians to be happy go-lucky, fluffy cloud-nine types, all the time. I don't mind people feeling angrily cynical sometimes. It just ... wow, those words, you know? You can't take them back. It's like being passive-aggressive but to thousands of people at the same time.

I am fed up of cynicism.

I am fed up of trolls. I am fed up of sexism, rape threats, death threats (not to me, you understand, but to other women). I am fed up of narcissism and self-centredness, I am fed up of judging and criticising, I am fed up of the pressure not only to look a certain way but to own certain things, too. I am fed up of a million voices shouting 'ME! LOOK AT ME!'

In other words, I am fed up with the internet.

I told Chris about this today as we were driving. It turned out he had been feeling the exact same way. He, too, was fed up of seeing the worst parts of humanity, the meanest, sickest, darkest, most self-centered, egotistical parts of the human race having such a huge voice, because we are all connected to each other, and we can't get away from it.

Plus I get fed up with the fluff of it all. The endless haul videos and selfies and stuff. I'm not saying I'm better than it, you know? I have plenty of selfies scattered around the internet, and I certainly like to buy things. I'm just saying when you see a million people taking photo after photo of themselves it starts to make you question where everyone's priorities are.

Including mine.

I took a blogging break because I didn't want to add to the endless noise all the time. To the pointless white noise.

I am afraid of what it means when we all strive to be heard. When we all feel that recognition is owed to us; when we all invite people to look at us, to observe our lives and our food and our habits and our clothes and our make-up and our parenting because we want ... what? Praise? Acceptance?

I don't know, for a moment it just sickened me. I had to step back.

***

And yet.

There are parts of being online that I really, really love. I met two girls on an AOL chat room (talk about old school) when I was thirteen or so, and they became firm friends throughout some really horrible teenage stuff (and yes, I did see them, I knew they were who they said they were!). They were just part of my life, you know? And I'm starting to connect to other bloggers now, too, and it feels nice to get settled into a new community of like-minded people.

Plus I am curious. I like to see how other people live, what their traditions are, what is important to them.

Creatively, too, the internet is a massive resource: going beyond 1001 uses for a mason jar, Pinterest-style (although I do love mason jars). The internet provides a platform for some crazily talented people. I have a ring and a pair of restored vintage earrings from Etsy, made by two girls who run a little business in some small town in America. They are so talented, and I would never have known about them had it not been for the internet. Being able to post your stuff online is kind of a game changer for small businesses like that.

Most importantly though, the internet gives a voice to people who would otherwise not have one. The internet encourages talented people to step out of their comfort zones and try it. The risk feels smaller, but the payoff can be huge. And for introverts (like myself) who find job interviews and exams and public speaking to be terrifying, you can potentially make a living speaking to millions of strangers without having to feel that same level of fear.

***

So here I am. Writing again. Back online (after reinstating Screen Free Mondays, starting again from next week, to give ourselves a break from the noise all the time). Because I am still an insatiable reader, and that includes other people's stories. I have read blog posts that have made me laugh out loud, and blog posts that have made me cry. Reading someone's thoughts and being able to see the raw talent in them (even if they can't) is amazing. And it's free! Bonkers. We are spoilt for choice for illuminating, beautiful art online ... you just have to look in the right places.

The other thing is, I'm still a writer. I write in my head all the time. You know J.D from Scrubs, constantly narrating everything? That's me. I need to get it out. I'm not sure where it's going to lead me, or whether, indeed, I am good enough to be bothering people with it ...

But I have to. It is a compulsion. So unfortunately, if you read my blog (or are related to me and therefore feel obliged to), I'm not giving up any time soon. I have a voice. It's not more important than others, but it is one, and I would like to offer it up as an option for people to consider.

I hope that I am not snarky or cynical. I will try my hardest not to be. There is, to be frank, quite enough of that out there already. If I start to get really sarcastic and downbeat, you know something is wrong with me, and I welcome you to come and tell me off.

I want to tell stories. Sometimes my stories might revolve around God. Sometimes they might revolve around tiredness, or cooking, or the-baby-has-pooed-in-the-bath moments.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is that drives that need to share, and whether or not I am walking along the right path or not. But for now, it feels right again. And frankly, that feeling I get when I'm sat here typing, and the rest of the world seems to fade away a little bit, and my brain seems to kind of settle down and focus so intently ... that feeling is kind of awesome.

So there we are. That's why I love blogging!

8 comments:

  1. I'm so proud of you! You are such a wonderfully talented woman with a voice that really deserves to be heard (or read as it may be!). Love you xxx

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  2. I am so glad I read this. I started blogging 6 months ago and well, I have found myself wanting that recognition and actually it has made me miserable. It has made me want to stop blogging. But then, like you, I don't think I can stop. I have so much to say I think I would burst if it were kept in!
    Reading this has made me stop and think, made me realise recognition was not why I started blogging. I am going to carry on and hope my blog touches just 1 person. If one person finds something useful then that is enough for me. Have a lovely weekend x

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    1. It's so easy to get sucked into wanting recognition, especially when you write loads and no-one seems to read it or acknowledge it ... when you work really hard on it it's frustrating. But you're right, it's good to remind myself why I started blogging in the first place.

      I'm glad you have that 'if I don't write I might burst' feeling too ;)

      Thank you for your comment. It's lovely to speak to other bloggers xx

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  3. A wonderful post, this is my first time reading your blog after finding you on the front page of netmums. I so agree, the Internet can be both amazing and hideous all at the same time. I cut right back on my blogging, I was blogging nearly daily at one point and it got in the way of real life, I only blog once or twice a week these days and I enjoy it much more. I too could never give my blog up.

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    1. Thank you! You must have been much more disciplined than me to blog every day! I aim for three times a week and struggle with that sometimes. Glad you are enjoying blogging more. It quickly becomes addictive :) xx

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  4. Really good post - well written! Last week I learnt that we are producing content every 48 hours that is the equivalent to all the content/info from the beginning of time till 2003. Now, it was Gary Vaynerchuk that stated this, so I'm guessing its accurate - but who knows? When I started reading this post the thought in my head was that prior to blogging I had a narrative running through my head for all my waking hours, and blogging gave me an outlet for it.

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    1. Thank you so much. That is a crazy statistic. No wonder we all feel overwhelmed from time to time. Glad you've got the voice in your head too. Blogging is the only way to deal with it ;) x

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