I May Be a Jerk, But at Least I Brought Cake

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On this day four years ago, I began this blog on a whim with a post about graffiti in a Starbucks bathroom. I was a new D.C. transplant looking for an outlet for stories - an outlet that wasn't Myspace. Yeah, seriously. My, how far we've come...

The purpose of my blog hasn't changed much. I still use it as an outlet to tell stories, to speak my piece, &, OK, to post photos of ridiculous people & things I observe around town. But the purpose has evolved, too. I occasionally post about more serious topics; I've let you guys get to know me. Not only do I no longer live in D.C., which was the initial impetus for writing, I now live somewhere I never, ever expected to be - with just as much to say.

And the friends. I've made all kinds of friends via blogging. Friends I've met in real life, friends I exchange texts & snail mail cards with, friends who have invited me to their weddings. Blogging has given me so much more than I could've anticipated. And of course, I don't mind the comments, either, & the fact that 700 people subscribe to this little site. It's nice to feel like your voice is being heard & enjoyed.

But of course, with great power comes great responsibility, or something, & so the more well-read my blog becomes, the more issues there are to deal with.

The point of this blog? Is still writing. The point has always been writing. This is why lately, I find myself struggling with this idea of "community" that so many bloggers are so adamant about - about supporting, about building, about protecting. Many bloggers work hard to create a sense of community. Such is the case with folks who use blogging to promote their businesses, and those who write for the purpose of creating a community of like-minded folks (fitness bloggers, fashion bloggers, craft bloggers, etc.). I don't begrudge these people their community-centric approach to blogging at all - but there's a huge difference between their motives & the motives of a blogger like me, who identifies primarily as a writer. Frankly, I wish more bloggers could recognize & respect that not all bloggers care about or want a community in the sense they do - and that they'd stop holding us to the same standards.

I'm just... not sold on the idea of blogging as a "community," not for me. I would never post something on my blog intentionally meant to hurt someone I consider a friend, Internet-made or otherwise. But is saying something potentially offensive a violation of "community" if it's not a community you ever meant to be a part of? Bloggers I don't know, don't read & have no association with have, in the past, accused me of doing things to harm them: They've accused me of trying to hurt their businesses; they've told me I should reconsider the way I world things; they've even told me I'm a negative attitudinal influence (chortle). While I do my best to display basic human compassion & kindness toward others, the fact remains that most bloggers are not my friends, per se. I don't know these people. I started blogging to write, not to form a community. My blog should be my blog, not a communal space where I have to tread so lightly around other bloggers' feelings that I can hardly press "Publish Post" without worrying who I'll somehow offend.

Comedian Ricky Gervais, of all people, said something recently that resonated with me both as a writer & as an overwhelmingly sarcastic individual: “You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you," he told New Humanist magazine. "But no one has the right to never be offended." The bottom line, I suppose, is that we should all bear in mind that behind every computer is a real, live person, with real, live feelings - but that, as in real life, we don't all have to be friends just by virtue of having the same hobby.

I do my best not to hurt anyone's feelings or be mean or spiteful or steal content. God, I try not to do any of those things. But so often, bloggers seem to get wrapped up in their ideas community & how various faux pas are detrimental or hurtful to "the blogging community," & I just don't buy that. I'm here to write, period, & if you like it, I'm thrilled. But if you don't? Well, I hate to be cliche, but the solution is easy: Don't read it. It doesn't have to be a part of your community.

Everyone is so obsessed with etiquette & community & networking. Me? I just want to write.

Here's to four more years.

Photos: 1, 2


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