I missed it…
I deliberately took a break from blogging to see if it left an empty space in my life, surprisingly it did. I am a word lover – pictures only tell part of the story and while many of the ‘in crowd’ people who wrote really popular blogs with thousands of followers have trotted off almost mid post – to other picture heavy platforms, I still prefer it here. I suppose I could compare it to reading a book and seeing a film eh? The words give me a richer deeper experience – than an instagram post or a Pinterest pin. which leads me to my next reason for loving blogposts…
Connecting with others
We watch the news – especially international news where there are stark reports – the current race riots and the corona virus pandemic situation in North America is my case in point here, it portrays a very negative portrait of a vast country and culture. Blogging is a glimpse beyond the headlines, a little piece of ‘from our own correspondent’ (radio 4 reference). I love being able to connect beyond the headlines, see how other countries and cultures really live. Maybe also see how they are coping with the current crisis – we find similarities, the same fears the same challenges…perhaps they also face hardships and challenges that are beyond my experience, giving me a gratitude for things taken for granted, such as free health care. Reading other people’s brings us together, what we share, what we struggle with, in this flawed human experience.
Its an advertising free zone (if you pick your blogs carefully)
We live in a consumerist society, the sheer deluge of advertising threatens our welling because it needs to create room for buying new products by making us unhappy. Blogging is a relatively advertising free zone… mostly, I just don’t subscribe to a blog full of flashing advertising. Yes, there will be recommendations for products but they are a side dish not the main course. A blog post about a wonderful tea shop – is genuine, the person has been there and posted pictures of the delicious cake… its real.
On the flip side, there doesn’t appear to be as much ‘manipulation’ when I write a blog post about yellow and black striped shoes, I don’t tend to see these come up in a google search. Nor am I given targeted suggestions of blogs I should follow, or services I might need, like other platforms.
Blogs are written by others, like me, sitting in front of a computer writing about their genuine lives and their genuine families without any airbrushing or product placement, long may it continue. (A little bit of photo editing is ok though!)
It makes you an observer and reporter of your own life
I have always been reflective – but I enjoy scrolling back through my blog as if scrolling back through my life. Its a record of my journey over the last few years, all be it the highlighted versions. I have learned in that time what works and doesn’t work for me, regular deadline blogposts don’t fit my style – I tend to post when I have something to write about, which makes them more interesting, hopefully. I would like to get to a stage where I actually plan posts with a beginning and end rather than splurging but there is always room for growth.
The first time I hit publish, I remember feeling a rush of excitement; growing up before computers and blogs publishing was a childhood dream that I hoped to achieve some day. While I might not be publishing a best selling novel, I am getting my story out there, my life recorded – a modern day version of a cave drawing, and who knows, maybe some future social historian will pour over blogs like they pour over family tree records in dusty archives. That said, I don’t believe anything I write will be of great historical value, but if nothing else it has value to me, that I have not only lived, but how I have lived.
While I am on the subject – a blog is something you settle into, it has taken me a while to find my rhythm, to find my voice. To anyone starting out – ignore the marketers and PR advisors who turn your wonderful creative space into a number crunching marketing monster. I was fooled into ‘100 ways to get a 1000 followers’ advice too, ended up feeling my relaxing hobby was a treadmill where I was trying to please people to tick a follow button. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my words are read, and I am surprised that after months of very little content, my blog still gets views, but that is a sweetener not the sustenance of why I do this. As I see it it is the only way to do this and keep the joy alive is to write when you have something to say and something to share, even if it is a round up of your week.
I have a very dear friend who clicks her phone camera every time we meet and posts it to social media within minutes of our meeting. As an introvert I have to use my telling off voice to stop her pressing the button! I want to see what she is posting before it goes out to the world, but more importantly, I want to connect with her properly and yes, maybe remember the experience with a photo, but instagram look at me! is just not, well, me. I don’t want to get the ticket, or the photo, I want the experience first and then photograph what I would like to capture to spark memories of a wonderful time, not just a been here done that click and collect.
I noticed this most when I was standing in front of Van Gogh’s study in Blue in the Musee D’Orsay – it is exquisite, I was standing about 10 feet away from the painting when I noticed that people were walking up, standing with their backs to the picture and taking a selfie, the picture was just a back ground to their ‘important pictures’ this is me, in front of a van Gough picture. It was shocking to me that they rarely actually turned around to face the picture itself and really experience the moment. To observe the brushstrokes on the canvass, to see the multiple shades of blues and yellows that came together as a whole – they were just ‘stamp collecting’ in my book without actually experiencing the moment.
Blogging allows time for planning, especially photography, the composition, framing, editing – the write up about the event, which means you have to experience the event first, all help me to live and record life. If I am going to write up a review of a book, then I might make the odd notes, or think about the writing style. Or if it a holiday experience, I might note the smells, what I saw and what it felt like – so I can write it up later.
Yes, it is great to click pictures of what I am doing, but sometimes it is a wonderful creative exercise to put a photoshoot together. Even the lighting or the staging, like my oat milk pictures. I really enjoyed playing with the composition, finding the objects like the bowls etc, it was a wonderful outlet for creativity. Without the blog, all that work would have been gone in an ‘instant gram’.
I follow people’s blogs because of the sheer beauty of their photography, captured family moments, they are a delight to see visually and they tell a richer deeper story than the words that go alongside.
There is no censorship
There are bloggers in China and the Arab states who still bravely manage to get their stories heard – women that talk openly about subjects under the anonymity of blogging that they could not discuss face to face.
I am in none of these positions thankfully, I am free to express my opinions on what matters to me without fear that the secret police will knock my door but it isn’t as free and easy as it might seem. There is a more insidious side to even our free democracy, where news organisations owned by multi nationals or Government advisors spin doctors and the like don’t tell us the whole story. I fear we have lost our independent reporting, even Auntie (the good old BBC) which is supposed to be independent and free from pressure of government has to go cap in hand for its funding. We are fed the information we are given, and other platforms have been caught out by spreading and influencing the wider population with fake news.
Back in this little back water – real news is posted everyday, it may be the birth of a baby, or the antics of a dearly beloved pet, or the project completion of a hobby, all these stories are given space among the many voices that flood our waking moments. I can choose to tune into those, because it is these stories, the every day lives that real people live that make us all unique. Most bloggers aren’t trying to push their politics or their brand down my throat, they are just speaking their own truth, very often from the heart. Authentic genuine truth which is getting a scarce commodity on other platforms.
So here is to blogging, long may it continue.