On Blogging

Do you like to blog?  The previous post discussed audience, and how we find our audience for our quilting and our art through some linky parties.  But this one is more about the blogging–the writing, the putting down of our thoughts and our ideas, the putting down of ourselves for others to see and (hopefully) comment on.

When I sit and read through lots of blog posts, like on a Linky Day, I am overwhelmed by how underwhelming my work is. I feel like I produce nothing, while all of you are out there with Bigger!  Better!  More Colorful! and looking like Jennifer Lopez or Jackie Kennedy (pick your icon) and I’m just sitting at my sewing machine/computer with unwashed hair in my slouchy pajamas.

I believe one place this feeling of inadequacy comes from is the deluge of interesting projects and quilts that I click through in short order.  It’s like going to a quilt show, with multiple projects all out there for you to see.  However, when we are in a giant hall, with loads of hanging quilts all around us, we recognize that we are at a quilt show and are there to gather ideas and inspiration.  But when we’re home breezing through blogs, we think we are looking at someone’s real life–that they are endlessly pulling quilt rabbits out of hats and never have a bad day, or one that they’ll write about.  I’ve been reading in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, and he notes that when we gorge on internet reading, we become “mindless consumers of data.”   He continues, “Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains shallow. . . we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections.”

Perhaps at this point, we need to push back from the computer and realize we aren’t looking at quilts. We’re looking at a “blog”– a constructed persona, full of sunshine, happiness and perfectly pieced points.  I love the following quote on how we portray ourselves on Web 2.0, the internet:

“That kind of thinking is precisely what I’m talking about, what lies behind the bland, inoffensive, smile-and-a-shoeshine personality — the stay-positive, other-directed, I’ll-be-whoever-you-want-me-to-be personality — that everybody has today. Yes, we’re vicious, anonymously, on the comment threads of public Web sites [I think of the recent brouhaha between Kate Spain and Emily Cier], but when we speak in our own names, on Facebook and so forth, we’re strenuously cheerful, conciliatory, well-groomed. (In fact, one of the reasons we’re so vicious, I’m convinced, is to relieve the psychic pressure of all that affability.) . . .

“Well, we’re all in showbiz now, walking on eggshells, relentlessly tending our customer base. We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something (though thanks to the Internet as well as the entrepreneurial ideal, more and more of us are), we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves like little businesses, something to be managed and promoted.

“The self today is an entrepreneurial self, a self that’s packaged to be sold.”

Do you ever feel like this–that we package ourselves to “sell?”  More on this in next post.

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7 thoughts on “On Blogging

  1. Everything you said is very true. I went through a period feeling like I was never going to be like some of ‘those bloggers’. Then I realized a lot of people feel that way when they read my blog. I am constantly telling people my blog does not represent my real life. I don’t want to whine and complain on my blog – I feel that can turn people off – but I suppose then it does seem constantly cheery. I do try to occasionally show the stumbles. Perhaps I should ‘keep it real’ more often. I know that while I’m away, I’ve got 8 quilt finishes queued to show off, but in reality I finished them over 9 weeks. Like I said. Not real life.

  2. Your posts are so interesting. I have wondered about all the blogs I read and how wonderful the women are to make their quilts so fast and the time they have, even the ones with small children. How do they do that I ask myself. Their life must be so organized. I only began blogging (and seldom do) to post comments on other blogs which I couls not do before. I really don’t care about blogging but it’s nice to show my work yet not too close! Thanks again. Love your posts!

  3. Oh, Elizabeth, what a timely post. We need to talk. I know–I need to pick up the phone. This is a constant quandary for me. Love/hate relationship with blogging. I mostly feel that it is impossible for me to “keep up” with the big girls. How do they DO it? Do I even WANT to try? I usually end up frustrated and fatigued, and feeling inferior…

  4. Loved reading this post! I think this is something that most creative bloggers suffer from. We look at other people’s blogs and compare their lives to us – but what we’re really doing is comparing their highlight reel to our behind the scenes (because we don’t realise that, like us, they probably only show the things they WANT other people to see on their blogs!). Comparison is a harsh thing to do to ourselves. Thanks for such a thoughtful blog post! xx

  5. We are all our own worst critics. So what’s “underwhelming” to you might be stunning to someone else! Especially because you’ve been staring at it for a gazillion hours, thinking about everything you could have done differently and over-analyzing it at every turn, while someone clicking through blogs sees it with fresh eyes and says, “Gorgeous!” I’m looking at a half-assembled quilt top spread out on my floor right now and thinking, “Why did I decide to put THESE colors together?”, when I was super excited about the color combination a few weeks ago. I think right now I’m just fatigued because I’ve been looking at it for so long.

    But I loved the quote about “bland and cheerful personalities” on the web. It’s so true! And so challenging to walk the line between not offending people, and yet being ourselves.

    P.S. I read these posts in reverse order – I read Part 2 first!

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