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

13 comments:

  1. I love the tag "ego crap." And the phrase "tasty bonus," which this comment IS. You're beautiful. <3

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  2. I so understand this Susan. I was part of the golden era of blogging too LOL. Facebook killed it. Taught us all to have the attention span of a gnat, and to opt with the easier LIKE than having to actually type a few sensible words to respond, interact and create community. I miss that too.

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    1. Yup, so true. I was reading through some of my old posts on this blog last night and was just amazed at how much interaction was going on. Any fear that I might be romanticizing that period was proven wrong.

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  3. I completely understand. I miss your words Susan. Fear is my cage, and I'd like to pretend that I am trying to break free. I realize my vulnerability stems from a lack of a trusted community, which I long for.

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    1. Thank you, Kerry. Trusted community really is a treasure in life, and not easily come by. I'm just at a point now where, regardless if my efforts result in that, I'm too sick of myself being a coward to stay in hiding anymore. My greatest fear has always been judgment and ridicule and pissing people off, and I'm tired of being under its tyranny.

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  4. Oh Susan, this really, really spoke to me. I MISS those days too. I was blogging at Anchors and Masts, not really focusing on very much, writing what was in my heart. You were part of those conversations, so was Kel, Sue at Discombobula and so many others. It was just great.

    Then I started thinking about making a living by blogging (at which I've been spectacularly unsuccessful) and having a niche, and attracting people to sign up for my mailing lists so I could sell them things, and GAH, horrible.

    And looking back, another part of the reason I stopped with A&M was for a very similar reason to you - people I knew in real life started to read it. A couple of work colleagues, my sister, people you would think it wouldn't matter but somehow it did.

    I also agree with Kel (waves hello), Facebook has been a big part in killing it. Twitter too. But also the Google feed reader going was a death knell. It was so easy to keep up to date with that.

    A trusted community of bloggers around the world sharing real things. Maybe it's time again.

    THANK YOU for writing this.

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    1. Yes, that piece about trying to make a living at blogging - totally!! When you start thinking about SEO and best times of day to post, and "generating content," and all that crap. Ugh. There was truly an innocence to my blogging back then that I'll never be able to fully recover because I can't become unaware of all those things. But seeing you all here at the blog commenting is encouraging to me that maybe there is at least hope for a community again. It's just so valuable.

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  5. The internet of that era was ours. Now it's been commodified, it feels awfully different. If we weren't all scrambling to try to garner the dwindling supply of money to earn a living we'd (maybe) be more likely to keep blogging, despite FB etc. Or maybe not. I feel like there was a certain innocence then. Sounds weird but even though we all knew that our stuff was on the net it felt more personal somehow. Then we were all burned when suddenly Someone We Knew came and read our words and made us feel exposed.

    I love more than anything reading vulnerable words on a page typed with shaking fingers. They are a bravery. They do some kinda healing, methinks. It was a pleasure to read these, Susan xo

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    1. The internet does feel really different these days, but I think the potential for community is still there. I was going to say maybe it's just harder to find now, but I think it might be more like it's harder to remember to look for it, because there's so much other distraction. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten on the internet to do something specific and instead spent an hour scrolling mindlessly on Facebook, only to realize when I get up from my seat, that I forgot completely to do whatever it was.

      And yes, that sort of anonymity did make it easier, definitely, although when I first started blogging, I struggled with (and even posted about) feeling exposed even when it was people I only knew on the internet reading. I overcame that and it was so very worth it, so I'm now taking the leap of faith that I can do this even with lots of people I know in real life "watching." It really does take bravery, and I'm not always up to it, but in my experience bravery begets bravery. So I'm just trying to trust that, because, as you say, there's healing in it. My fear is actually starting to give way to something like curiosity, just to see what happens, even if it ends with me being metaphorically burned at the stake, as my worst fears suggest. We shall see.

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  6. What?? Coexist with Muslims?
    They'll kill you AND your family.
    Apparently, you haven't heard me...
    or Mike Savage.
    Sure, go right ahead, try and live with sand people.

    ReplyDelete

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