Earlier today, on Twitter, I created a thread of blog posts that I love. These hark back to 2013 or ’14, around the time that I began to actively blog. Oh, I’ve been blogging for 10 years but it wasn’t until mid 2013 that I really got into it.
So, this thread I’m talking about, it’s here below. Feel free to check it out.
— Shailaja V 📝 (@shyvish) October 26, 2017
In the thread, you’ll notice I’ve linked to some favourite posts, written by bloggers I love and am in touch with even today. One or two of them don’t blog anymore, more’s the pity. I hope they read this and come back to it though.
Why did I create this thread at all? Today on Twitter and Instagram, being Thursday, a popular hashtag makes its rounds, called #ThrowbackThursday. Most people usually share a picture from their past, to somehow evoke memories of a time gone by. Perhaps it’s a way to find that moment from long ago that made us feel loved, content or just at peace with who we were. I did too. I shared a picture from my trip to Niagara Falls in 2010.
#throwbackthursday to this wonderful, fantastic family trip to Niagara Falls in 2010. This place was on my bucket list for the longest time and it was every bit as magical as it is in the pictures. I actually started blogging about my three month trip way back then. But ran out of steam. Maybe some day I’ll put it all up on the blog. One of the best times I’ve ever had in any country. 💟 #Travel #niagarafalls #waterfall #tbt
While I loved re-living that moment, albeit briefly, I did reflect upon something else that struck me. Back in 2013, when I began blogging in earnest, waking my blog out of its slumbering state, I dove into it with the delight of a child finding a new toy. 4 years later, that delight hasn’t gone away, but it’s become subdued in some sense.
And I wondered why. What’s different today that I didn’t have four years ago? The answer was three-fold.
One, I was writing regularly. I did two 30-day blogging marathons in November 2013 and April 2014 and was none the worse for it. That meant I spent more time blogging, actually writing and enjoying the process. I wasn’t exhausted by writing or worried about what people thought about my writing. I didn’t wonder if my regular writing was putting readers off from my blog. Hey, I had two readers, maybe three. So it wasn’t a big deal. I wrote because I loved it.
Two, I read more blogs. I stumbled across writing that took my breath away and lost myself in the magic of words. Doing so made me want to improve my own work, nudging it out of the cocoon of plain narrative to elegant prose. I found all the time in the world to read blogs and read some more. Blogs were read because I loved the writing, not because of any other reason. I joined link up parties, participated in writing contests regularly, got to read some excellent bloggers and what can I say? It was perfect!
Three, I wasn’t distracted by social media. Back then, I didn’t have an active Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account. Even Facebook was just a way to share status updates and connect with friends. I made some wonderful friends with blogging, no doubt, but something else happened; something that would interfere with blogging as I knew it.
I got overwhelmed by the noise on social media. Instead of writing a blog post, I was reading a sly tweet or a vague status. In case you don’t know what that means, it’s when people make a generic statement such as, ‘I wish people wouldn’t write such long posts!’ or ‘Why do mom bloggers have to share every detail of their lives?’ The problem with being vague is you tend to assume you are the target of said statements. That’s what I did.
The other thing that happened is I befriended a lot of bloggers on Facebook. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, a part of me wishes I hadn’t done so and I’ll tell you why. Facebook was primarily meant to connect you with people you know. This includes people you’ve known all your life or people you’ve studied or lived with, maybe even worked with.
The thing about people you’ve only met online (at least initially) is that you are now friends with them and privy to their every private thought. Usually, these don’t make it to the blog, but they do make it to tweets and Facebook updates. So while you are more likely to forgive a good friend for a rant on Facebook, you’re not necessarily going to do the same for an online acquaintance.
Net result? I stopped reading and writing blogs the way I did. They became irregular. The number of blogging friends grew while my distance from everyone grew in proportion. I was no longer reading the way I should or writing without a care in the world. It’s tough to do a tweet thread when you scroll past a tweet where someone is rolling their eyes and saying, ‘God, tweet threads should be banned!’ It’s rough to write a long Facebook wish for a dear friend when someone will sneer at the public display of affection.
So I stepped back, from the noise. It’s physically impossible to keep up with 1054 friends or 4300 followers and be emotionally invested in each of them. I broke away from engaging on contentious topics with people I barely knew. I stopped ranting on social media and vowed never to do it on my blog either.
But, the unfortunate thing was, I also stopped writing and reading regularly. I was now blogging on schedule instead of on whim. Don’t get me wrong. Schedules keep me sane. If you know me at all, you’d know that well.
Shouldn’t she write, despite everything? She should be reading like nobody’s business. She shouldn’t give a damn what people think of her and guess what! I think I may have found her.