When I’ve been asked about whether I would start my own blog or page my first reaction is a subtle internal cringe, and I’m curious as to where that comes from and if others can resonate? The act of writing or posting about our own lives all the time can sometimes feel vain, self-absorbed, and self-indulgent.
I think I should qualify this post by saying I do love reading other people’s work and what they put out into public life. I’m inspired daily but what I see in my newsfeed or read from what others have taken the time to share with us. I follow many public figures on social media as well as plenty in the ‘mummy blogger’ world and enjoy their posts and candor. Sometimes I disagree or find things controversial or jarring, but I also appreciate this aspect of engagement as it challenges my thinking, and gives me exposure to what is going on in other’s lives outside of my own echo-chamber!
But it can be tiring having the same narrative repeated over and over: the one that ‘inspires us’ of the storyline: I’ve been through [this thing] and came through the other side so now I’m going to inspire you to do the same’. I’ve done this and will likely continue to do this! Because it’s a narrative we’re comfortable with and many of us can resonate AND we can feel inspired about using the same tools or strategies to help us on our own journeys. Plus – it feels great to be able to validate and celebrate others’ personal stories of redemption and triumph, and there are so many milestones and achievements that are important to celebrate. It is also useful to have a record of these things that we personally can look back on (Facebook memories… are you a fan or not?)
We also consider that how we perceive/present ourselves through these mediums can come across very differently to others through a screen, and our INTENTION isn’t always clearly communicated through language/a picture.
What we may share innocently can trigger a wave of grief or pain in another.
What we may share proudly may come across as vain.
When we share something hoping to provoke solidarity, it may only serve to accentuate isolation.
When we share our vulnerabilities we may receive an onslaught of criticism.
When we ONLY share moments of joy then we risk partaking in the dangerous-facade-creating myth of the ‘perfect life’ when we all know human experience is far more complex.
Yet if we post our struggles/hardships/pain then there’s the risk of seeming like we’re self-victimizing in a bid for ‘likes’ and comments.
I am mindful of perpetuating narratives that chronicle an (often) linear ‘journey’ from ‘broken’ to ‘fixed’.
Maybe it’s because these stories seem to be providing answers when what we often are left with in reality is more questions than answers. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and experienced the ways my Dad and our family were revered and referred to as ‘inspirational’, which (although a compliment) felt like an erasure/blinding of the ordinary hard slog and pain.
Maybe it’s because so often we are individualizing what are social problems. We are relying on the strength, heroism, and redemption of the individual without being able to acknowledge, call on, and call into account broader structures and areas of responsibility.
What I have come to after grappling with all of this when deciding whether to make my thoughts public or not, is coming back to thinking about the ways in which other people’s public presence has enhanced my own private life. I’ve met some of my (real life) best friends online, whose children will grow up alongside my daughter. I see posts daily that inspire me and uplift me. That put a smile on my face. That put me in touch with resources/articles that help in very pragmatic ways. I have connected with researchers and writers in my area of work.
And I remember in the months after Dad died in the painfully quiet hours of the night when I couldn’t sleep, I would scroll and scroll and search through pages, blogs, pinterest, threads, looking for something to give me hope, to find connection, to find a quote that resonated, to read about the human experience of grief from another’s perspective. Although in small ways, those connections did help…
These platforms – for those who choose to participate – can be another version of community, another way of finding belonging, of catharsis, of connection, and of documenting the parts of our lives we have the opportunity to reflect over, whether that’s for other’s consumption or not.