Are you disenchanted with the idea of the blogging community? No? Only me? Okfine. Then I’ll just write this to myself.
Disclaimer: This post has been brought to you by several weeks of sleep deprivation, clinical depression, and probably what is (if I’m being honest with myself) a little bit of sour grapes. I feel all dark and twisty; all ridiculously emo like someone half my age. All the angst plus fine lines and stretch marks! SCORE!
I’m taking a risk; this post could create some backlash against me. The blogosphere doesn’t take kindly to back talk against it. I hope it’s taken in the spirit it’s intended, which is not one of hostility but rather a yearning for discussion.
I’ve never been one who wants to stir up a shitstorm or create drama; that’s not the intention of this post. I’ve never been a boat rocker. I’ve never even had a troll. If I’ve ever been meant to have a troll jump out from under the bridge, this is the post that’ll do it. I don’t take critism well. I tend to find the nearest corner into which I can curl up into the fetal position and rock while sucking my thumb. I’m preparing myself to either get flamed or get ignored. I’m not sure which I fear worse– Dory, you’re kidding me, right?! You expected MORE you moron?! Do you live IRL or blog-world?! (A little of both actually) or ominous silence.
So what is my intention? Well, these words have been percolating for quite a while. I’ve NOT said this for months and I’m hoping that by doing so I may break some writer’s block. I’m also hoping that I’m going to discover that it’s not just me. Hopefully, I’m not alone. And maybe by thinking out loud here (which I do quite often) I can discover a solution to my discontent.
Here goes nothing. *jumps from the plane and pulls the rope*
My number one objective for blogging has always been this: a desire for connection. For finding people I get, and that get me. For stumbling across a kindred spirit.
My second objective for blogging has been this: to affect people with my writing. Whether I make you laugh or cry or think or snort with derision is not important; just as long as I affect you, I feel my mission has been accomplished.
I’ve been blogging since 2003. At first, it was just to friends and family on LiveJournal, but then I became aware of the blogosphere in 2007 and set up camp on Blogger. I loved the idea of connecting with other writers online and the whole concept of “blogging community.” I met a few really super cool people (I’m looking at YOU, Country Girl, City Girl, MelodyAnn, Abby, and Fabs) that really connected with and for that I am truly thankful.
Back then when I was all starry eyed with the blogosphere, I was completely enamored of the idea of the blogging community; the comments, the give and take, the camaraderie of this shared insanity that is blogging.
I mean, let’s face it; it takes a blogger to get a blogger. None of my IRL friends have any inclination to blog. I’ve never even met a blogger face to face.
And unlike In Real Life, my Deafness was not a factor whatsoever. (I’ll try to be concise on this idea, but I smell a whole ‘nother post coming from this one point.) You don’t have to have hearing to participate fully in the blogging community. I felt this was an area of my life where I could be on level ground with everyone else, instead of missing a great deal of what was going on around me. Plus, I was looking forward to the opportunity of meeting lots of other D/HoH bloggers; ideally, late deafened ones that share my experience. We aren’t equal participants in the hearing world, but oftentimes we’re not completely accepted by deaf world either. We’re a weird lot. We probably don’t have a deaf ‘accent’ because we were deafened post-lingually; our hearing aids are next to invisible; we’re less likely to demand our right for an interpreter and instead make do with residual hearing and speechreading; we offer no clue to you that we need acceptance and accommodation to be on equal ground with you. We experience the “real” world very differently and it can be quite isolating.
I saw the community that was going on around me, and I wanted to become a part of it. I started out with about 40 blogs that I felt I could really connect with the author, and set up my reader. I taught myself; RSS, Subscribe, Feedburner, search engine, keywords, memes, all of these were all completely unknown concepts to me in May 2007. But I researched and studied and learned stuff and set up my own little online living room in Blogger. Then I set about reading and commenting my little heart out all over the place. I wasn’t sure how to comment at first, but quickly came up with the strategy of picturing this author sitting across the table from me, sharing a coffee or a beer, and thinking, what would I actually say to this person. I really invested myself.
I knew it would take time to become accepted. But after a few months went by, I found the return on my investment unsatisfactory. I had erroneously hypothosized that if I invested in them, they would invest in me. But I wasn’t getting the connection, the interaction, I thought I would get. Surely, I thought, I am worth at least getting to know. I don’t think I’m coming on too strong and setting off people’s stalkeradar. Why aren’t people responding to me? I asked myself. What’s wrong with me?
Okfine, I thought, I need to show them I’m serious. I’m in this 110%. In August 2008, I put on my big-girl-blogger panties and bought my domain and hosting. I spent hours days setting up on WordPress, learning about widgets and CSS and fussing with the design. I saw my blog, and it was good. And I thought, now, now they will see I’m in it for the long haul. I got right back to reading and putting my heart and soul into the comments I left in my wake. I really put myself out there in my posts, offered myself up at my most vulnerable.
Now it’s February 2010 (can you believe it?!) and here I am, still dissatisfied with the blogging experience I’ve had. Years later.
I’m tired. I’m tired of taking five hours to craft one post and getting no comments on it. I’m tired of reading about the blogger meetups and the resulting lovefests and feeling left out. I’m tired of checking my stats and being disappointed that I haven’t broke 50 subscribers yet. I’m tired of reading about the awards and the different strategies for garnering votes, both the ones who take the high road and the ones who choose the low. I’m tired of reading about 100s, even 1000s of bloggers flocking to one blogger’s plight. Sour grapes? Probably. I’ll own that. But I wasn’t asking for donations or votes or 1000 subscribers or a trip to Disney. I was only asking for some connection; ok, I’ll admit it– I was asking to feel the looove. But all these years later, all I feel is that I’m pressing my nose up against the window, on the outside looking in.
I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I know that I’ll never receive an email from Dooce. I’ll never go stay a weekend at the Lodge with Ree. I know that an A-Lister will never actually strike up a friendship with me or find me interesting enough to talk to seriously.
But what about all those bloggers (probably 100s now that I’ve been at this a few years) that have maybe 50, 100, at most under 1000 readers, that I’ve laid myself vulnerable by sharing with them my personal experiences in their comment section? Some I sent encouraging emails with an “I’ve been there and I’m on the other side and you’ll get there too” or an “I’m really impressed with your writing, keep up the good work” or an “Your photos are striking and you have a great eye for composition.” And gotten nothing, zero, zilch in return. Not even, “Thanks for the encouragement” or “Your words came at just the right time.” I’ve even offered framed 5x7s in their choice of images for virtual housewarmings that they’ve thanked me for, but never actually collected on. Can you see my frustration in the fact that my photography sucks so effing much that I CAN’T EVEN GIVE IT AWAY?! That my words mean so little that they don’t even warrant a response?!
Something’s got to give.
I can’t any more.
Maybe I’ve had the wrong objectives all along. Maybe connection and affecting people was just too much to hope for. I’m just thisclose to unsubscribing everyone in my reader and closing comments on all my posts just so I can avoid the disappointment. Maybe even prove to myself that I can just write for the sheer joy of writing.
But in my heart, I crave that connection that the blogging community seemingly offers but that remains so elusive to me.
I’m tired of my blogging experiences being a trigger of so many depressive episodes.
I’m tired of feeling like the kid in Sp Ed who is trying to be friends with the captain of the varsity cheerleaders.
I’m tired of feeling so alone in the blogosphere. I get enough of that In Real Life.
Am I the only one?