Authenticity, blogging and community.

I’m not sure what to write for this post.  Actually, I’m not sure what to write in general.  But my fingers are itching for the keyboard and my heart needs to write, so it will out.

I have been reading a lot of posts lately about fitting in, or not.  About what kind of blogger people are, or are not. About labels and what they mean.  How they define.  Who they make you. Mummy blogger, not a mummy blogger, the in crowd, the outsiders.

I am, I must say in all honesty, concerned. There seems to be a tear in the fabric of our blogging world, and I’m not sure how to mend it. For the record, I do not define myself as a Mummy blogger. I blog, I am a Mum, but that’s where it ends.  To me the issue is not what we blog about or what kind of blogger we call ourselves.  It’s the fact that we are connecting with each other, and sometimes, with people we don’t know at all.

Personally, blogging has become a way for me to practice writing.  Practice at what I had always wanted to do, but had not done. For me it’s not about how many followers, hits or comments. Don’t get me wrong, these things are nice.  But I don’t get caught up in it.  I don’t worry of I don’t get as many emails to write sponsored posts – as a rule I don’t do them, because for me they don’t sit well with where I want to take my blog – but I have no issue with bloggers that do, I even enter their giveaways.  If I was sent an email for a product I felt fit, I would write about it though.

Blogging affords me connection, online and personally.  It affords me a sense of community, one that is at times difficult to explain to those outside looking in. One that to the newcomer may look free and easy, with the declarations of friendship, complements, hugs and kisses flying around the blogospere and twitterverse. But here’s the thing – like all aspects of life, relationships take time to establish. Take time to deepen. Like all aspects of life not everyone fits together well.  Relationships take time to develop, take time to become more than acquaintances, even online.

What you see online in the open is not all that goes on.  There is behind the scenes communication too.  A slow establishing of trust, a building of relationship. Addresses and phone numbers are not given out easily.  There are only a handful of people online who know my children’s names.  Even less know what they look like. It’s not personal, it’s my decision, and now that they are older, my children’s decision too.  They have a right to their own privacy.

There has been talk online about authenticity, and I have to say from my perspective, being authentic does not mean divulging anything and everything.  Nor does it mean that as a blogger I have to feel the same affinity with everyone.  I’m realistic, my blog is not for everyone, this does not offend me.  Just as I can not claim to like all blogs I come across.  I am human, I am not all things to all people, no one is.  This is my authenticity.  This is my honesty.

I can be supportive, I can tweet, read blogs, but some tweeps, some blogs, some people are going to speak more to me than others, and if I am to be authentic, then I will not apologise for that. I will not be rude, or dismissive, but I will be true to myself.  For me that means not spreading myself too thinly. Not overwhelming myself.  Taking a step back when I need to. Protecting myself and my family.  If this makes me seem standoffish, or like I am excluding people then so be it.  It is not on purpose, it is because I have to keep boundaries in place. Take it from someone who’s time at school was not always pleasant, I would never knowingly or purposefully exclude.  But communication, relationships, they are a two way street, they take time and I will not allow myself to be overwhelmed or stretched to breaking point. It’s not pleasant for anyone.

So, where am I going with all this? I guess what I’m getting at is that we are all adults, are we not.  We can agree to disagree.  We can recognise that online, as in our offline worlds, we gravitate towards some people more than others, and that often the reason for this is undefinable. That blogging is more than a label, more than the sum total of followers, awards, sponsors and comments. That being authentic means being true to oneself first, before readers, followers, prospective sponsors.  None of us are perfect. None of us.

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