I feel like the time has come to fess up to something I’ve really struggled with for years, something I’m quite embarrassed to admit and something that is probably going to raise your eyebrows with scepticism. But it’s something I feel I need to talk about, almost an apology or explanation for being the worst blogger in the online community.
‘Blogger’ – strange. It feels weird to apply this term to myself as I really don’t feel like a blogger. Yet here I have been, for a few years now. Distributing things into the web-sphere and feeling utterly detached from it.
For me, blogging feels a little like posting manuscripts for unfinished stories in the post-boxes of strangers. I feel so disconnected from the whole process, especially since my blog has morphed in time and lost its original purpose.
The thing is, I document some of my memories, I write them up with no particular audience in mind and then post it out into the world, turn my back on it and then forget all about it. It’s like walking to the postbox at the end of the lane, sending a postcard to a made up address and then going back to the house for a cup of tea.
But that’s not what blogging is all about, it’s about community, and engagement and sharing. I always have this horrible sense of guilt that it’s not a place for virtual hermits like myself. In my head, if I were to give an image to the web-community, I’d picture it as this big sociable party where everyone goes on a Friday night, loves, the music is loud and the people are sharing wonderful stories, tips about where to go, how to dress and how to help with makeup. There’s a room for everyone, no matter how quirky, socially awkward, introvert/extrovert or outrageous you are. Everyone has their ‘group’ and everyone is welcome. And yet there I am, sat at home in my pyjamas, gazing out the window while my invitation sits unopened on the table and my friends and acquaintances are wondering “where on earth is Sarah?” “Does she even care?”
Of course I care. When I come back to my blog to find these kind words from these sweet strangers, people who have taken time from their day to not only read my meandering posts, but actually comment on them, I am filled with an extremely humbling feeling. It’s like honey and I feel incredibly grateful. It’s like when a stranger holds a door open for you and smiles, or helps you out when you’re struggling for change on the bus. It’s that feeling of when a stranger is holding a free hugs sign in the street and another person goes up and hugs them and your heart mellows, it’s that feeling when the barista who’s making your coffee gives you a friendly wink.
Over the years, I’ve found myself spending less and less time on the internet. I always enjoyed reading blogs, and though admittedly I never read as many as I ‘should*’ I particularly enjoyed learning about people that I felt I sort of knew, engaged with or who’s names I recognised popping up time and time again with sweet words. There are people like Kezzie, Anna, Alice, Cherie, Mimmi, Chelsea, Chloe, Emma, Melanie and many others (I’m sincerely sorry for missing anyone’s names) who brighten up my morning or evening time after time with their thoughtful comments and who I delight in taking a peek at their stories in turn, feeling a little less like this world is a huge and terrifying place filled with strangers.
*Is there a recommended/socially expected amount?
This year though, it’s reached a point where I am feeling extremely detached from blogging and even the community. I struggle with leaving comments, even when I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed a post and I find it impossible to join in twitter chats, threads and even Instagram communities. I feel rude and selfish, like I’m the spoiled child sitting in the playground with my arms folded refusing to join in on everyone’s games and I’m continually beating myself up for it, but there are two fundamental things that stand between me and being a ‘properly dedicated blogger’ or even using the internet recreationally for that matter.
G U I L T & C O N D I T I O N I N G
If you do happen to be one of the beautiful strangers who regularly check upon this space, you’ll know me by now as the sort of person who loves to be outdoors. All of the time. Growing up, I was the kind of kid who did a lot of extra-curricular activities. At one point, I was doing Surf Life Saving club 3 days a week and Sea Cadets 2 days a week and then spending my Saturday’s off, exploring Illogan woods, playing with tree swings and walking down to the beach. I really didn’t spend much time indoors at all. If it was good weather, I had to be out doing something. My Dad and I are quite ‘activities’ based sorts of people, we like to be out in the good weather – even if it’s just for a walk or bike ride so as a kid I didn’t spend a lot of time indoors and if I did, I’d be doing something like drawing, painting or reading. It didn’t help that throughout my life, I encountered a lot of negative experiences with people around me who had unhealthy video game addictions, often lashing out as a side effect of too much time spent playing. I developed a really negative view of video games (not including the Sims :P) almost to the extreme and it only pushed me even further into my personal view that any free time should be spent outside.
When the internet became a huge thing, I never really jumped on the bandwagon. I was outside trying to figure out how to use my surfboard and I guess I never really caught up from there. When I first discovered blogs, they were these diverse, hand-madey personal spaces where people just wrote stuff regardless of whether people were reading it or not. There were no flashy templates swanning about and no pressure to have a ton of followers. People shared their art, their writing, their outfit-combos or whatever they felt like and it felt organic, stripped back and scrapbook-like. I liked that notion and quickly joined in with my own online diary, although I was sporadic with my entries. There was no pressure.
Now that I am a wedding photographer, I have to spend an awful lot of my time on the computer. If I’m not trying to make adjustments on my website, keep the wedding blog up to date, reply to emails and keep the Facebook page maintained, then I’m spending 30-50% of my day editing photographs. I spend an AWFUL lot of time on the computer and the truth is, I hate computers and associate them with only productivity and functionality – not leisure.
This means, that beyond working on my business (Which I quite enjoy at times) I really don’t want to spend any more time sat at the Macbook. I already feel guilty enough staring at the screen while it’s dry and adventurable outdoors, that when I’m finished with my to-do list for the day, I can’t bring myself to stay sat down any longer. I truly begrudge spending time on social media (except for Instagram, although that’s more of a phone-camera-instant-share-thing) and I have this enormous sense of guilt and self loathing for hanging around on the internet.
So when I tell myself “today I’m going to make an effort and attend that twitter chat!” but there’s a cracking sunset outside, I find myself putting down the iPad and heading outdoors with the thought in my head ‘there’s always another day’. There never is another day because the truth is, even when it’s raining – I convince myself that I can be doing something than lazing around on the internet.
(Sarah fully accepts that the internet contains a wealth of knowledge, entertainment, art, creativity and witty memes and yet she can not convince herself that not being in the fresh air is even an option)
U N C O M F O R T A B L E
Am I an introvert? Am I an extrovert? I’m not sure I even belong in either of these categories. The second truth of why I struggle with being online, is that it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Despite never having encountered a troll for myself (so far) and everyone seeming so lovely, supportive and kind, I find myself feeling so awkward and uncomfortable. Like I’m standing in a crowded room at a huge party where everyone knows each other, everyone has something to say and everyone is looking amazing and I’m just like “where do I fit in?”
I don’t lack self confidence and my anxieties are generally irrational and can’t be attributed to the usual culprits of busy spaces, social expectations or high pressure. I don’t find it difficult to talk to people in the real world, I am quite approachable and friendly and love to chat with new people. So why do I find it so hard online? I really don’t know. I recognise that I do struggle with the barrier that is my screen and the web-sphere and that maybe it’s the guilt of spending time online that disconnects me from the pleasure of connecting with online strangers, perhaps it’s even the extremely fast pace at which twitter chats whizz by. I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles to keep up with the #lbloggers chats, and I’m sure there are many out there that are much easier to find a place within them but I haven’t yet managed to get to grips with twitter well enough to find my own place. The truth is, when it comes to things like twitter, I feel like an old technophobic lady who squints at the screen mouth slightly open, adjusts her glasses and types heavy fingered, one lonely key at a time. Sure, if I sat down and gave it some dedication and time, I’m sure I could learn to use it – but that’s where the guilt thing comes in.
So there it is, I just feel really awkward and out of place on the internet. Like someone with a phobia of deep water trying to hang out at a swimming pool.
I’m an utterly awful blogger.
And yet, why do I do it?
B e c a u s e …
I do it because I love the process in the making. I love taking photographs and I love to curate them into a little informal gallery. I love that I never apply pressure to myself regarding my blog, unlike my website and the things I share in order to promote by business… Here, I can put up my duff photos that I love anyway, the goofy or slightly blurred shots of people and places I’ve enjoyed. I can write about why I love those people and places and create a scruffy but loved gallery, of the three things I adore most in all of the world: places, people and ideas.
I love writing for the sake of writing, reading for the sake of reading and taking photos just because. That’s why I put things here. Because I can.
So here I am, putting postcards through the letterboxes of strangers.
I am truly sorry that I am a terrible blogger, if you could even call me a blogger. Sure, I use a blog. But I use it to write, to put up photographs and memories. To the wonderful people who come to this space, I truly appreciate every single one of you. And I appreciate the silent people, who like me, come along, read silently and vanish quietly. I appreciate you very much.
I’d like to consider myself a writer and photographer, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious. There are bloggers who write and writers who blog. I guess I’m pretentious by default since I did a degree in writing. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be. I just really like it 🙂
This August, I’ve been travelling quite a lot for work. I had a wedding in Kent to photograph and since we rarely go to the eastern parts of England, George and I thought it would be nice to visit the coast and drive through Brighton, taking the coast road home. We stopped off at Beachy Head near Eastbourne for a little rest before continuing the long drive. It truly is a beautiful spot, even with it’s austere history. I loved the white cliffs, it’s such a charming change from our dark and wuthered counterparts in Cornwall. These cliffs were so sheer and mighty and the colour of the stone against the sea was something else. The entire colour palette of this piece of coastline was just dreamy.
I never did get to explore much of it because our time was short, so I must go back (perhaps when there are less tourists.) It’s the sort of place I could sit in one of those fold-out chairs and read a book, watch the boats go by and stare at the sea for hours with a picnic on my lap.
Thank you dear stranger.
I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my clumsy wording and inability to properly ‘internet’.
I do not dare to disregard anybodies hobbies or loves for this realm and admitting my detachment from it, I don’t in anyway disrespect it. It’s just not a place I often come to, but then again I don’t go to church either and I still greatly respect the faith of others. I hope you can forgive me for daring to keep a blog and simultaneously be a lousy blogger.