Saturday, August 22, 2015

Outing Myself

I'm not the type of person to get nostalgic and long for the good old days. But the one exception is my longing to return to my "golden age" of blogging. Between 2009 and 2011, I was blogging regularly; I was inspired to write and felt free to post whatever I wanted, and a community of other bloggers formed that gave me a wonderful sense of belonging and affirmation.

I really miss that. And I've been thinking about it a lot lately because of this crowdfunding campaign I'm in the middle of. I feel this constant pressure and inner conflict, because I know there are things I could and "should" be doing to spread the word about the campaign and encourage people to back the project, but I have tremendous inner resistance to doing these things, and that resistance is tied in with the reasons I don't blog anymore.

I just finished reading the book, The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. In case you're not familiar with her, she's a musician who raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter to produce an album. (The book came about as a result of a pretty amazing TED talk she gave about that.) There are many factors that contributed to her campaign's remarkable success, but what she really emphasizes in the book is that people were willing to back her because she had spent years connecting with her fans and creating a true community with them, via the Internet.

The only way I can relate to that is in the community I felt connected to when I was blogging. And reading the book made me envious, not so much of her successful crowdfunding campaign, but of the online community and her ability to consistently connect with it. My blogging community fell apart, and I've often pondered why that is.

Out of the variety of factors at play (including the rise of Facebook and the tendency we all veered towards of blip-posting and endless scrolling), the personal one most troubling to me is how much more hesitant I became to put stuff about myself out on the Internet. When I started blogging I had just moved to a new town and didn't know anyone; the people who were reading my blog weren't people I knew in "real life." It was therefore "safe." Now that I'm widely connected in this town, and am friends with many locals on Facebook, I have much more fear and self-consciousness about sharing publicly at the level I used to on my blog.

That really bothers me.

I even made this collage recently to help me try to get over myself. It now lives on my fridge.
The other major thing that Amanda Palmer talks about in her book is that these relationships she's built with fans over time are based on trust - she really puts herself out there, not just on the Internet but in face to face interactions. She allows herself to be vulnerable. And this is what I have such a hard time doing anymore.

That's why I'm writing this post. I've been feeling like a coward and it's making me sick. I used to write and post with abandon, and I want to be doing that again. Even if nobody reads it. (And of course, part of me hopes they don't, because it's safer that way, ha.)

So I'm treating this post as a confessional, I guess, just putting it out there, admitting my fears and being vulnerable in the hope that, at the very least, my courage will be generally bolstered (which it actually already is just in the writing).

And if any of my old (or perhaps even some new) blogging friends happen to read it and comment, well, that will just be a tasty bonus. I'm guessing I'm not the only one out here who struggles with such things.

Amanda Palmer's TED talk


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