I took this photo during a Pathfinders session at BlogHer '11 in San Diego.
One e-mail from June 2010 stands out for me, in particular, because it reminds me about why I'm here in the blogging arena and why I still love what I do. I've chosen to remove the author's name and tell-tale details to preserve confidentiality:
Okay, girl. I need to ask you. Where does your faith in blogging come from? I can't seem to muster it... I spend hours trolling online for amazing writing, and I rarely find it. Yet, people will share and discuss and comment and promote pieces that are really poorly written just because someone discloses something taboo or irreverent. It's like we applaud mediocrity all the time online. Now, don't get me wrong there are pockets of brilliance, you, kate, maggie, xtx, conscienceround, bhj, and a bunch of other. But, I see a lot of branding and bravado. The worst part, when you criticize any of it people just assume you are jealous or fearful. It makes me crazy. I don't know. I want to see the good in it. But, everywhere I turn people just seem to be following each other blindly without thought. It feels so obvious and at times desperate. I just want to write. I just want to participate in communities where people really love the written word. I don't feel that online. Maybe, it's me. Maybe it is all my own fault. I don't know.Here is my unedited reply:
Why do you love it? Don't you ever shake your head at any of it?
You know what? I see inauthenticity at every I turn, too. It's bound to happen. Just look out at the world. People can be really lame, and they are, all the time. People often rise to meet only the lowest bar required to show signs of success.
It's like with children. Their answers to questions usually meet their perceived needs of the question. If you ask them how fast a car was going when it bumped the other car, they will say that it was going pretty fast. If you ask them how fast the car was going when it smashed really hard into that other speeding car, they will jump around and tell you about flying shrapnel. I think we are doing the same with success as bloggers. Most of us are merely meeting the perceived requirements of the question and not pushing ourselves further than the needs of that question or even questioning the question itself.
There is bound to be a lot of laziness, hard work, hacks, shining talents, inauthentic dweebs, and people who put their heart and soul into it, but I would never look at blogging as a whole and then say I don't feel love of the written word there or originality or thoughtfulness. I can't take any book off a bookstore shelf and say that the writing in it is even decent. I cannot look at the human race and say I say I see humanity in all of it, but here we are, and we still try to tease out the bits of us that work on this planet. That's what I try to do sometimes with stuff like Grace In Small Things to help people remember to stop being awful and this thing to try to introduce some thoughtfulness to our blogging.
One big problem with blogging is that we can drop in and find it rife with douchebags any day of the week, but that is generally the problem with life outside the internet, too. I try to avoid the douchebags and focus on those who further themselves and their craft. It's not about putting blinders on and more like learning to live on the internet the way I live out in the real world where people are just as brilliant and awful. I choose who I'll hang out with, where I want to go, how I want to present myself, and who I'll invest my care and time into.
I have no more faith in blogging than I have faith in a hammer or a car's engine. Blogging is a vehicle. I do have faith, though, at least to a certain extent, in myself and some of those I find here. I have faith in certain individuals and individual talent. Blogging, though? That's just the how.
So, why do I love it? Because I love how I do it and some others that I've found. Do I ever shake my head at any of it? Hells yeah.