I am an “old dog” when it comes to blogging.
Yep. (I use this a lot, don’t I?) I have been blogging since 2004/5. I’m not exactly sure why I started blogging, but I did and well, I’ve never looked back.
When I started blogging, there were not as many blogs as there are now and the whole concept of making money off of your blog was not as prominent. I don’t know the true history of the blog and I find that the internet while providing data can not give you the end-all-be-all history of internet usage. I mean think about how many blogs there are now on how many different platforms? My first blog from 2004 is nothing compared to now.
Yet blogging has evolved and has given way to all sorts of personal sharing developments. Look at pinterest. Sure you still need to find pretty photos from somewhere, but once you pin the photo to your board, you no longer need to bookmark that page on your comp, nor do you need to put together a blog of you “new favorite” items. It’s done immediately.
But that’s not why I am writing today’s blog. While I enjoyed trailing off for a bit there on the changes of blogging and the internet, the real reason I’m writing this post is because of a project I’m working on for the 9-to-5. I am drafting a “social media policy” and as I work on it, I find myself considering the many ways in which I am and have been an active social media user and abuser. These memories that are stirred with each suggested policy point reminds me of all the blunders I’ve made and well, I consider them valuable lessons for me and I hope for you, too.
My first foray into the world of social media always started with the sound of the modem connecting me to the internet world and the sound of “You’ve Got Mail!”. Yes, it was the AOL dial up days and I spent countless hours chatting my life away as a young teen. As a matter of fact, I met a still current friend in a chat room on AOL. It turns out that he was attending GWU as a freshman my sophomore year. It was a good connection, but what about the addiction it gave way to?
Once I moved on from AOL to the world of ethernet connections and owning a laptop and instant messaging from morning to night, sharing online became instinctive. In 2004, when I started to blog it just seemed natural to do and thus a nine year addiction came to be.
1. My first blog is no longer with us. Sure it’s carcass remains on a server somewhere, but the chances of you landing on it are never. I had to disable that blog because well, I made the first and worst mistake of blogging- talking about what I didn’t like about my roommate.
I don’t think I just discussed how much I didn’t like and the reasons why, but called her names and made fun of her. I was naive enough to think that she’d never find my blog and therefore didn’t need to remove incriminating details and maybe make it private. As I type this right now, I think about how young I was at the time, 23 going on 24, but the reality is youth does not make the mistake better. I was a horrible person. I had no respect for her and our bond (because we were friends) and it resulted in her moving out and us not speaking for a long time. In the last three years we’ve rekindled our relationship, but I apologized and she accepted.
Lesson: Don’t think you’re not being watched, or can’t be found. Respect other people and their business and never share stories or details that will hurt and/or offend (although your opinion will inevitably offend someone) people, or destroy relationships. It is not worth it.
2. My addiction with social media is strong and waning at the same time. When I say waning, I mean my personal social media use. When I first started on Facebook, I posted every thing – pictures, thoughts, what I was doing, etc. Now, not so much. I’ve created a filter of sorts. Also, there’s so much going on on Facebook that I often find myself with a glazed uninterested feeling.
But, I used Facebook for my business, and I blog, and I tweet (I was reluctant at first), and I use Pinterest, and I am on Etsy, and I have a website for my business. So indeed, I’m everywhere, and yet, I’m no where at the same time. As the person behind my business, I control the information on all of these venues and I keep it real and honest, but I also filter what I want to share and what I don’t want to share. I practice this not just on these venues, but also on my personal Facebook profile. It is the way I’d want anyone to see it.
For example, one of my first blog posts on the blog that no longer exists was about how I would stare at my camel toe during my Bikhram Yoga classes. Yep. I kid you not. My friends, who were the audience found it hilarious! One friend even still quotes that blog from years ago (your thoughts are remembered), but I would never assume that you fine reader, on this blog that is about writing, stationery, design and being an entrepreneur a. want to read a tale on that topic, or b. want you to create an image of me based on that one posting. Now, I do realize that I’ve just shared this with you, but I did it so you would have a point of reference. Don’t begin to think you know every thing about me based on that one sentence above.
Lesson: People are reading, watching, and following you, so don’t share just to share. Time is valuable and readers want information that helps them or makes them think as much as they want to engage. They will do all of this with people who are sharing honest and real content. Think of it this way, do you really want to be remembered for some off-the-cuff comment you said without thinking? Probably not.
3. I have always been a bit crazy. I mean that in a good way. Because of this crazy, I’ve always been me. I’ve never shied away from my unique voice. And it helps. It really helps. It means that the people who do like my voice and my posts will like them and come back for more and the people who don’t will not. It has allowed me to become a better __________ (everything!) – writer, thinker, designer, artist, and experiencer of life.
What I’m really getting at is that I haven’t and I won’t change my writing for any reason. My writing skills have definitely tightened up, but my voice is still my voice. While I practice the act of filter, I don’t filter too much. I will never sound like a NY Times writer, nor do I want to. In other words, I’m embracing my talent without being a fool.
Lesson: Don’t try to be something your not. It’ll come across as insincere and fake and nobody wants to read or follow someone who isn’t honest and real.
On the blog that took over in 2006 after my first blog ended, I took most of those lessons to heart. I posted a picture of my real self, I started using my name in posts, and I dropped talking about people who were/are near and dear to me. I did write a few posts about dates and people who had hurt my feelings, but I left out incriminating details. Not so shockingly, my friends and other readers found these blogs and responded to them. They enjoyed the escapades of me on my travels and my very open accounts of dealing with my father’s passing.
See, I managed to find a way of writing about my life and sharing my stories without the casualties. I made myself accountable and responsible for the image I presented. Every one using the internet should do the same. Not just for the professional implications, but for your own sense of worth and benefit.