Note, 10PM, Sunday Night: I was going to take this post down because… I’m not really sure why. At first, I thought I would take it down because it was a boring post about blogging, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t write about blogging so much. I’m no sure I even care that much about the subjects I bring up. Am I trying to get attention from other bloggers by bringing up dramas in our community? Not really. I’m more embarrassed by the post than proud of it. Even the thesis of the post is a little forced — I don’t feel very insecure in the online community. I have made great friends here and I have wonderful readers. People seem to like me.
So what the hell is this blog post about?
I’m not sure yet. But as I am reading your comments, I am realizing that no one is addressing whatever is in my mind. So, this post seems odd to me now. It is something deeper that blogging. Maybe it is about my place in the world, and I am just using blogging as a way to explore this theme. Maybe it is safer to write about blogging than other issues in my life.
I leave this up, not because it makes any interesting statement about blogging, but because it gives you some insight into how my mind operates on a Sunday night in October.
The Post —
I was going to write a post about my insecurity and self-esteem issues today, but the thoughts of putting that to paper made me feel like throwing up, so I decided it wasn’t a good day to write that post. Hey, but at least I started exercising! (#2 on my To-Do List)
Then I was decided to write a post about how we all use the term “community” online. Whenever I want to avoid writing about my life, I turn to the blogosphere for blog fodder. Clever, huh?
I asked myself these questions: What exactly is this community online? How does it work? What is it doing for me?
Then I decided to combine these two topics — insecurity and community. Two for the price of one. What a bargain!
OK, let’s begin. Insecurity. I think most of us are insecure. Some more than others, right? If you a person with no insecurities, then you are probably a… psychopath. As humans, we want to overcome these insecurities. We NEED to overcome them if we want to accomplish anything or become successful in life. One effective way to combat this is to search for support — a family, or a community.
Make sense so far?
This begs the question — how healthy are our communities online if it breeds so much insecurity, jealousy, and trolling? While it is natural to point the finger at the idiots who are out there poisoning everything, I am an Obama-voting liberal who looks inward. I believe we should throw criminals into prison, but at the same time, we should look at our society as a whole, perhaps even finding ways for rehabilitation.
Every single one of us can give a million examples of how online life can breed insecurity.
I can already hear your response: So what? Life breeds insecurity. It is part of human nature.
That is true. That is why we tend to look for communities in the real world that work for us, where we feel comfortable and secure.
Is your community online doing this for you? How about for others in the community? Is there such a thing as a real online community?
Let me first mention this Broad Summit that occurred last week. Thirty popular female bloggers met for a sponsored retreat at some hotel in the wine country. Some women were upset by the appearance of elitism at this invite only event. I’m not going to try to be controversial as Anna was in her post, but I find it hard to leave a good controversy alone, even if I tap around the issue! But don’t worry, one day, I will write about male bloggers and some drama — I promise!
Here it goes —
Perhaps it is a good idea to create a mini-community within the larger community as a whole. We all have friends that we feel closer to than others. We all want to be considered important in some way, if not as bloggers, than writing books, or being the best fireman in the city. But, we all know how jealousy can rear his head. If you read the comments on Anna’s posts, it is textbook drama. There are accusations of jealousy. There are angry denials. Let’s face it, jealousy and envy are human emotions. Great books have been written about envy and jealousy. We need to be somewhat aware of the potential for jealousy and envy, in the way that we don’t put our hand in the lion’s cage at the zoo, and then be act shocked when we have one less finger.
Now I am friends with a couple of those women who went to this exclusive blogging retreat. I am proud of their success. I almost didn’t write this post, worrying that one of them would hate me. These women have all worked hard for their success, and are talented bloggers. But I’m not really talking about this retreat. I am talking about all of us and what we want “blogging” to be about. Are we just going to imitate the model of old media, or are we going to celebrate the fact that everyone and his mother can start a blog in five minutes?
It didn’t take a Sigmund Freud to figure out that this retreat idea was going to create uneasy feelings in a certain sector of the online community. No one wants to feel that others consider themselves “elite,” even if it is true. Or at least when it is done in a public manner. It just draws too much attention to status. It is like showing up to church driving a Lamborghini. And clearly that wasn’t the intention of this blogging summit.
Enough about that. I have much of the same feeling for all many of our online activities that we probably could do without — those bullshit blogging awards, for instance , which are mostly popularity contests. Or live tweeting who you are eating lunch with at a conference. (why doesn’t anyone ever eat lunch with anyone boring or “not awesome” at these conferences?)
I have insecurities, so I am assuming you do too. Yours may not be about blogging, but for some, it is. Boo-hoo. Who cares, right? But, If we are going to consider ourselves a community, and TALK about it all the time like it really exists, then we should try harder to think about the others in our neighborhood. All of us.
Think — What would Mr. Rogers do?
This is not to say we shouldn’t self-promote. I can’t wait to tell you how wonderful I am. I’m going to pimp Kate Inglis’ book next week, and I haven’t even READ it yet! We help our talented friends. We all know how this works.
BUT — back to the community. Are we a community or not? I join a community because it serves a common interest. Every time I read about a conference, half the sessions are about promoting oneself and getting more readers. Of course that is important. I am not stupid. But this is primarily a model for the business world. If that is the type of online world we want, then let’s openly admit it. Coke and Pepsi don’t hang out at the same bar, trading stories. We are competitors.
Example: A friend of mine was trying to create a blogging event and asked another blogger for advice on how to get a sponsor for a car. The other blogger, who was lucky enough to get hooked up with GM during some BlogHer promotion, didn’t want to give her any names or contact numbers, concerned that the new blogger might hone in on her territory.
OK, I understand that… in the context of the business world. I might have had the same concerns. Again, I am not an angel. But if we are going to pose as if this is a “community,” we should act more community oriented — whatever that means.
On the other hand, I am also having thoughts that go in the completely opposite direction. Perhaps, I should just start thinking of myself as a writer and you as my audience, without considering myself as part of something bigger online. My self-esteem would have nothing to do with others, and my main priority would be to keep myself in business. Maybe that is more professional… and “successful” thinking. I’m no angel.