April 14th, 2013
I’ve found it hard to write here lately, or actually, write and publish. People haven’t noticed, or perhaps they have, as when I visited a psychic several months ago, she seemed to pick up”creative” silence, telling me that I’ve shut down my voice and desperately needed to open it again, suggesting I wear a blue stone necklace to unblock that chakra.
I understood immediately what she meant. Because I could use some opening. I feel like a camera shutter with only some portions blacking the light. This part of my face is covered, that part’s not. I can’t show this side, you only get to see this one. This, when I could once come here and share so openly.
The last year I’ve thought about my silence a lot – coming up with reasons and explanations and logic. Sometimes silence is good and right and other times, it’s closed and unnatural. My rationale? I write for a living so I’m out of words. I don’t have a minute to myself and am unable to focus. I’m really, really tired.
But the real answer I know only as I type it now – is I don’t trust who’s behind the screen anymore. If I say why, I’ll move on and so this is me opening my chakra:
When I began blogging twelve years ago, I kept to myself. Of course, the ecosystem was vastly smaller then, and most bloggers at the time knit themselves into small groups I couldn’t hope to breach, nor did I want to because I rather liked writing in a vacuum where I crafted posts to please me, and not to attract readers or praise (or for that matter, criticism).
I abandoned that old blog in 2007 and began San Diego Momma to write, yes (and always), but to connect also. I wanted to reach out and talk and listen and be a part of the online space I saw unfolding before me. I recall coming up with the name of the blog, taking little to no time to create a URL, rather uninventively I might add, because my only thought process was “I’m from San Diego” and “I’m a mom.” After typing several iterations into Net Solutions, I discovered that only the “momma” spelling was available in combination with my city, and so my blogging persona began – on a whim and a notion.
I forced myself to write every day back then because I’d spent $1,500 on the design and I wanted to make my mark in this space. Not to rise to fame, not to be a name, but to be heard. I wanted to be known (as in “I see you, I really see you”), and connect with people I hoped were like me with the same hearts and minds.
I did. I met so many soul people I can’t number them all. It’s amazing how many bloggers love to read, dig music, and live inside their heads. I’d found my tribe. Several of them are still my friends, thank God, and I credit that to reaching out, allowing myself to be heard – and listening back. Those camaraderie days lasted a while, a few years, and then small shifts signaled that things were changing. One dear friend stopped blogging to pursue an online business, which is very successful today. Another grew tired of the narcissism and external living, and so blogs intermittently, if at all anymore. Another’s husband felt he was losing her to a virtual world and she gave up her space to save her marriage.
Then there were signs that blogging as I’d hoped it could be was morphing away from the personal relationships and stories. People asked me if I “monetized.” Others acted shocked when they discovered I wasn’t a proper “San Diego Mom” blogger who wrote about local events and such because it was a misuse of good SEO. Then, public relations companies began pitching, companies asked to run ads on my site, and meet-ups became hashtags. Blogging was discovered by the opportunists, and there were plenty of times I was – and am – one, too.
I rode the changes out with reactions ranging from bemusement to bitterness. I’m no better than anyone else, but this world was becoming too bright, too loud, and too phony for me. Blogging appeared to become a means to an end and a conduit for people’s fantasies and motivations to be BIG, BIG baby! It wasn’t and isn’t my thing to live outside of myself for so long. I grew to dislike the meet-ups where you had to broadcast your presence on Twitter, to shrink from the link-ups employed solely to increase readership, and to avoid the people who had agendas, which seemed to range from “I want to be a popular blogger” to “I think you can do something to get me ahead in this game.” Everything seemed so contrived.
The erosion of my blogging enjoyment came slowly as chipping away usually does. I had a horribly hard time accepting that people use each other for personal gain, that public faces were so different from private ones, and that it doesn’t always matter who you are, it matters WHO you are. This isn’t special to blogging to be sure, but it was my first concentrated exposure to this behavior, having successfully circled around ladder climbers and agenda havers most of my life. I couldn’t assimilate the fact that people I thought I knew were not at all how I wanted them to be (when people show you who they are, believe them the first time) and that recognition and popularity were so highly sought after with phoniness and insincerity. The emphasis on numbers and stats and social currency can strip people down to their barest essence. (Who are you really? What’s your price? Will you live your life for you or for what people think of you?)
This inauthenticity seemed everywhere. I once sat next to a woman who was compiling a list of bloggers she would “befriend” because they were influential and she wanted on their radar. She had her plan and over the next few months I watched as she reached out to these names on Twitter with fake praise and pandering, to, to – what? To be a name in the blogosphere? To grow her own influence (and for what)? For ego? I couldn’t hack it. Lack of transparency frightens me.
That’s what happened. I began to distrust. A rose is not a rose is a carnation. I wondered if people who reached out to me wanted something, because that’s what it seemed blogging and social media had become, in my world anyway. It didn’t seem like blogging and bloggers were doing it for the love, which is incredibly naive of me to write, I get that, and that’s the problem: my naiveté that ALL people and the ENTIRE world were real and good and what you say is what you mean was busted. It had to happen sometime.
My enthusiasm for blogging waned, mainly because I couldn’t picture my tribe anymore. In this online space, I’ve seen behavior that upsets me best case, and devastates me worse. Maybe not all people are good on the inside? I haven’t been able to get a handle on that and so I don’t trust. I need to imagine good behind the screen and I’ve been unable to conjure that image anymore.
I thought it was just this way now.
But with all things big and small, there’s many stories and a million sides. Sure, blogging has become more commercial and commoditized, drawing more people who will use it the way they used whatever came before to get ahead, or capitalize on building empires where they are kings and queens for the sole sake of saying they’re royalty, but it’s also the same as it always was. The bedrock is still there. It’s up to me to dig down and throw the dirt aside.
I’ve spent so much time in the disappointment and looking outward that I’ve missed the inward, which is my starting place for all things lovely. This online ecosystem is not bad – I’ve just been noticing the bad parts. The people who aren’t who they presented themselves to be? Let them fraternize with the other phonies! I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and this one was hard, but here it is: MOVE ON, with a side of PEOPLE AREN’T ALWAYS WHO YOU WANT THEM TO BE. I simply need to focus on the parts that are good (for me) and the people who are good (for me), as with everything, and there’s been plenty of both. I’m a child at heart and life lessons come hard and anything can be extrapolated into heartbreak when it isn’t to my liking.
Most of all, I’ve learned that the desire to create is still kicking in my gut and if I want to use this space in that way, I can. Meanwhile, I must detach and let other people use it for what they need, even if it’s not how I want them to use it.
I mean, the world is not my utopia.