16 Apr 2013, 11:41am
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holistic blogging

i was looking back through this blog today at the kinds of things i have written here. i was thinking about how scattered i feel on the internet, a little bit — how there’s this blog which is public and has spanned many topics and spent time in multiple categories, fitting some better than others; and there’s the livejournal (yup) that i have kept for over a decade and still write in sometimes, though not as often as i used to, in order to remain connected to the small community of which i am a part there; and there’s my business blog, which consists mostly of pictures i have taken of other people’s lives, and some photos of my life as well; and there’s the religion blog project i started a year ago and to which i have not contributed anything since november, despite drafting a bunch of stuff and, uh, well, thinking about it a lot; and there’s facebook and twitter and instagram on top of that. whew!

one of the imaginary things that i personally am nostalgic for is the idea that at some point in the past, people were just whole people, all the time, without compartmentalizing themselves and considering their audiences when they put themselves out there. maybe in part because there was not such an “out there” to put themselves. the internet has been a part of my self-expression since i got an aol account at the age of 13 (i think). i started blogging at 14. i wrote about some of this a few years ago, when i was reflecting on the first decade of this millenium and on a decade of journaling online.

i haven’t written much here (not much more than a dozen entries) since i left the farm in august 2011, which coincidentally is the time i started photographing weddings and putting my business together — my oh-so-slowly-growing business. sharing imperfect personal snapshots feels weird when you’re asking people to buy your photographic expertise. i think, also, i’ve tended to be a little guilty of, like, creative capitalism, sort of — i mean, trying to create what i think others might like to read, rather than what i want to share. i found myself reading a bunch of blogs about spirituality and religion and thought, i can do this. i have been consuming blogs about running (especially trail running and ultrarunning) like crazy for the past six months, and look at the last several entries here. i have always had “enthusiasms,” i suppose, and to a certain extent i want to respect that, give those enthusiasms space and freedom to be expressed. but not at the exclusion of anything else.

i think i can identify when (in my blogging history, i guess i mean?) i am limiting myself and trying to do something that is not quite genuine because i write with Capital Letters. Like, maybe someday I’ll get a book deal?, or at least followers?, if I make myself look like a real writer with a real consistent focus or, god forbid, end every blog post with a question, like, “how often do you re-evaluate your internet presence? What do you think about the idea of trying to be a ‘whole person’ online? How do you consciously or unconsciously create the persona that you present to the world?” that said: 1. that shit really does lead to, like, discussion and stuff, doesn’t it? connection? and 2. i’m pretty sure i started writing without capital letters in order to be more like the cool girls i admired online in, like, 2001, so what’s genuine?

i think what i mean is: on the internet, and maybe in our modern super-connected, super-diverse, super-huge world in general, it is so easy to find parts of people, to look for specific qualities and interests, to pick and choose what we consume not only in terms of goods but in terms of people. if i want to read about what it’s like to finish western states 100-mile race, i can google it and find dozens of blog posts to consume. i don’t have to (and often can’t!) read about these runners’ training or what they do for a living or who they love or where they’re from. if i want to find pictures of beautiful rural off-grid permaculture homesteads, i can do that, without leaving my desk in my house in the city.

i’m not putting a value judgment on this. i have been hugely influenced and hugely inspired by niches i have discovered on the internet, by ideas i might have never been exposed to, by people who care hugely about communicating one thing that is really important to them. bike touring, bike commuting, permaculture, wwoofing, feminism, barefoot/minimalist running, ultrarunning (this is not a niche i can claim to be a part of, yet, but i’m working towards it), body modification, environmentalism, identity politics, travel, pantheism, spirituality, photography, my literary and musical tastes… the internet has increased my self-awareness and self-examination by exposing me to a million different and diverse perspectives and continues to productively challenge me every day. it has made me a more thoughtful person and inspired me on huge adventures both literal and figurative.

but i do wonder if all of this possibility, all these options we are exposed to, the ability to stop, re-focus, re-align, step sideways or go deeper by clicking links or typing keywords into search bars, has changed the way we (i) connect with people in the “real” world. online, connection is almost synonymous with consumption, because we have so much control over the connections we seek out and they are so explicit about what they are — i mean, the people connecting are so clear about their identities, “i am a runner with a running blog,” “i am a feminist with a blog about politics,” “i am a homesteader,” “i am a style blogger,” etc.

this happens offline, too, of course. we present ourselves in certain ways: attend certain events, dress in certain ways, carry certain props, and introduce ourselves in certain ways in order to advertise our identities and attract certain kinds of people who share or are attracted to those identities. this is an effective way to meet people and make connections. but i think that it’s not an effective way to achieve intimacy or develop long-lasting, fulfilling relationships.

in order to do that, we have to allow people to be whole people. we have to soften our focus and see the rest of them. even — especially — the parts we might not seek out or choose to connect with at first. this means setting aside what we think we know about a person’s identities — which, after all, tend to change over time — and connecting with them in another way.

i admit i don’t know what that means or how to do it, exactly. i think it has to do with genuine care and concern, with openness and willingness to hear and experience another’s perspective. with letting go of expectations in order to permit change and growth. and with nurturing connection where you find it, and maybe creating it when you don’t. compromise. and with connecting with others’ identities, and having patience with them and enthusiasm about them, even when they are not yours. i think figuring this stuff out is a meaning of life. a process. (i know a lot of this is maybe obvious, and i’m not suggesting that i totally suck at it, but there’s always more to learn. and i think naming the challenge is useful and productive.)

like a relationship — hah — this blog post started out as one thing and became another. but anyway: this blog is not, and is, a running blog. this blog is not, and is, a bike touring blog, a travel blog, a blog about permaculture, or theatre, or art, or books, or even me. it is just my blog. and i am just me.

As your mother (who reads ALL your blogs) and a blogger who writes about one narrow topic (doing agility with standard poodles) (well, and knitting hats) (occasionally)…. I blog on that narrow topic because that’s what I want to talk about and keep track of, not just because I think other people will be interested, but mostly because it helps me to organize my thoughts. By focusing, I can bring my energy to the area of my life that I find most challenging.

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