The problem with blogging

When you maintain a blog, there are a lot of things you have to consider. How often you’re going to add new posts, what you’re willing to talk about, if you have a focus or if you’ll talk about family as just a few examples. Each one is crucial to how your blog is going to turn out, and while I think I’ve come to terms with each of those for myself, there is one other issue that I still feel that I contend with on a regular basis, one which I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to solve and which, at its root seems to be a problem not necessarily with the media itself, but with sharing anything at all, especially in the digital age.

Essentially, how do you have a discussion with an ostensibly one way form of communication?

Now I know that there are comments here and on Facebook, that you can tweet at me on Twitter or even, if you feel that strongly, email me, but I don’t feel that most would go to the length of writing an email, and none of the others is nearly so long or in depth as an actual conversation at least has the potential to be.

If I truly were an expert at well, anything, if this blog were simply about how to do X or Y with precise and correct technicality, this might not be such a problem, but both blessedly and problematically, I’m not. I still need help and guidance, I still need instruction, heck, I still (*gasp*) change my mind, which, as with most of the endeavors I seem to take on, seems like a somewhat counter-cultural approach.

This, more than anything, seems to be my great issue. See, there are things that I know or believe to be ultimately true (and I have no problem speaking of those as such), but there are many, many things that I feel much less sure about and many, many, many things that I feel ultimately have to come down to personal choice, God’s grace and creativity being large enough to not only allow but perhaps even necessitate differing views (which just said a lot that I unfortunately don’t have time to unpack here). Except when you write a blog or article, at least nowadays, it often seems that the goal is (or should be) not necessarily to explore an issue so much as it is to tell your audience what they should feel about it, which is simply not how I work when it comes to these other issues.

I am on a journey. I want to take it with people, whether or not they agree with me. Further, I want to be able to leave room for discussion, not just here, but in all my writing and hopefully in much of my action. How can I do that when I am expected to speak from my “platform?” When the entire goal of social media marketing seems to be to put me in the highest (or at least higher) position in my field? To make me the expert?

This problem loops back to the one I first mentioned above, I think, which is that at least from much of what I see, social media is increasingly designed less as a platform for community and more as a platform for self-promotion, that is to put out opinion, but not to take any in. In a lot of ways, this is practical. In a lot of others, it is disheartening. See, even if I wanted to have discussions with people through these kinds of things, I’m not sure that I could. We live in a world that is often lived by personal truths, people living in their own realities by their own rules and definitions, and while I do believe that we can be unified despite differences in a lot of areas, it’s extremely difficult to talk to someone who doesn’t have the same definition of even the simplest terms. Compound that with the haters-gonna-hate attitude that many have today, that my opinion can simply be disregarded (if not villainized) if it doesn’t align with yours, and you can start to see my problem. Add to that mess the fact that if social media marketing did “work out” for me (at least by worldly standards, the longer I live the less sure I am that I even want success of that kind) I could be inundated with comments or responses. With the life I lead, I couldn’t possibly have real in depth conversations like I want with some 100+ people from the internet even if we were all on the same page to start.

I’m not sure what the solution to this is, if there even is one. I don’t know if I can combat the negative aspects of social media marketing, if I can reconcile how I want to live with using those techniques at all, or how to do any of this.

Perhaps the solution is simply to keep doing what I’ve been trying to do, that is trying to share opinions with grace, trying to share with humility.

Maybe the solution is to try to have more conversations at home and not even do this at all.

I guess I don’t know. Not to end on a sour note, but I guess I’ll just have to find out.


 

P.S. Thoughts? Opinions? Do you have a blog? Do you have to self-promote? How have you handled these issues? Have you struggled with them at all?

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To another year of being uncool

 

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Source and more art by the same artists: http://alan-and-john.tumblr.com/tagged/The+Lord+of+the+Rings/page/3

I had an interesting conversation with one of my younger cousins the other day. I was searching for Lord of the Rings unabridged audiobooks (haha, nice try, Abby) online, and not for the first time that evening I was reminded by her that the things I like are either lame, weird or generally uncool (apparently there is no saving grace for audiobooks [I never found out the reason] and Lord of the Rings is weird [this is true in a partial sense I suppose, but I was definitely offended more by the implication of its lacking quality than by my own strangeness]). I don’t think she meant any harm by the comment (she’s still pretty young and as I recall I had almost no filter myself at that age), perhaps trying to be helpful in steering me away from nerdy things (good luck) or exercising a rampant curiosity, but it brings up an interesting point that I’ve been considering for, oh, several years now, which is simply this: I am super okay with not being cool.

I think there are several reasons for this.

  1. The vast majority of the things that interest me have never been particularly popular. Fantasy, sci-fi, classic novels, comics, anime, D&D, Shakespeare. To me the sweeping scale of such things are a source of wonder and delight, the depth of some of the worlds astounding, the characters personal heroes. I have learned much of how I want to live my life from just such stories, the contrasts between good and evil, how to fight it, courage, friendship, integrity, communal responsibility. These are things which capture my heart and attention, which call me to greater creativity and integrity in my own life, and while each of these hobbies and genres certainly has its own following, many of them exceedingly vast, I wouldn’t argue that (with rare exception) any of them are (or at least have historically been) popular if you come at it from the mainstream direction, often for very poor reasons.
  2. The vast majority of the things that are supposed to be mainstream hardly interest me at all. Again, with rare exception, most of the things that are seen as popular or, more significantly, the things you have to do to be popular, don’t hold any appeal. I don’t keep up on current culture, I don’t like most top 40 music, heck, I don’t know almost any of the people my young cousin informed me are great. This has been true of me for almost my entire life. I remember thinking years ago that I couldn’t wait until it was acceptable for me to be culturally unaware (in that sense of the phrase). Now that I am, I’m delighted, and I suspect such a feeling will only grow the longer I live.
  3. I’m a Christian, which means if the world at large is terribly fond of me, I’m probably doing something wrong. Now I don’t mean to say that as a Christian I should go running around making people hate me on purpose, but it is something that’s basically promised in the Bible. John 15:19 says “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” Again, this doesn’t mean that I go around trying to tick people off, it just means that if I’m truly living the life that I want to live as a child of God, there’s going to be some friction. It also means, to my understanding, that if I spend all of my time pandering to the altar of popularity, I’m doing something wrong, a topic which for the sake of this post is just a little too big to get into now.
  4. Lastly, being cool (at least in the eyes of mainstream culture) wouldn’t improve anything about my life right now and I honestly don’t think that it ever could. I’ve never been popular, and all the time I tried to be in middle school was essentially miserable. I spent so much time chasing after the approval of others, taking on their interests, trying to please them, and I didn’t enjoy half of it. Since pursuing the things that I love, since resting in His approval, I’m in a better place than I think I’ve ever been. I have people that love me for who I am, people who share my interests (if you seriously pursue your passions, you will eventually find people who share them, even if you don’t know where they are now), five wonderful books full of wonderful people, and hobbies that I can fully enjoy without having to worry whether or not other people think it’s cool.

Now, I’m not saying that being popular or well liked is bad or that society’s approval has no place (as I said above, communal responsibility certainly does have its place, which is yet another blog post), and as someone who hopes to be a successful author , I would hope that my work will get bountiful and loyal readers someday, but I don’t feel the need for me as a person to strive for popularity, and I think we might be better off as a society if none of us did. The passions which beat in your heart are there for a reason. Pursue them whether or not others think its cool and do so with excellence. If others don’t share your passion, love them anyway.

So here’s to a new year of uncoolness and pursuing what you love. Go forth, my nerdlings, and nerd.

P.S. What experiences have you had with being popular or unpopular? Did you ever find that the things you were passionate about weren’t popular and pursued them anyway? How do you define “cool?” How have these decisions directly affected your life?