I’ve been radio-silent around here, publishing blog posts in fits and starts and deleting swathes of earlier stuff. But rather than go apologising, I’ve finally resolved that it’s OK to just see this blog as a diary of sorts. To do anything else would be to presume that a) there’s anyone reading b) that you’re irked by my inconsistency. But to those who have stuck around and found yourself clicking through to here today, thank you – you’re good eggs. 🙂
But the reason for the inconsistency? Well, aside from the usual ‘tired, busy, etc’ (urgh, so cliche, I know!), it’s because I’ve been wanting to step back from social media and blogging while I figure out my answer to a question:
Why do I want to share any part of my life online?
I’ve no doubt that’s something you’ve thought about before, and I suspect it might also be something you wrestle with as you upload selfies or stories for the world to see.
So, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Why do you think we feel the need to update our Facebook statuses, share snippets of our lives on Instagram, or go whole-hog and blog it all for everyone to read?
I’m asking because my boyfriend challenged me over it recently, and initially I was a bit stuck for an answer. He’s private, observant, reflective and introverted, and he chooses not to have any personal social media accounts. At. All.
He sees a dark, narcissistic and potentially even dangerous side to uploading your life to the internet, and I can see where he’s coming from. I also think he’s drained by the idea of interacting, fielding and absorbing so much ‘chatter’ from thousands of people at a time, and if nothing else, he just doesn’t ‘get’ why you’d want to upload a photograph of your crumpled bedsheets or tell people about what’s happened from week to week.
Balancing my desire to share things, with his desire to – well, not – is tricky. I mean, I’m transgressing right now but telling you about our conversation and sharing some of his opinions, aren’t I?
I’m happy for him to have his opinion and keep his life offline, but I’m also passionate about allowing myself to have my life online. (And in case you’re wondering, he’s cool with that too).
But our differing attitudes towards blogging and using social media is making me question why I want to do it.
I think in part it may have something to do with insecurity; certainly when I started blogging back in 2010, I felt motivated to continue sharing because people praised or complimented me. That felt good (and still does).
But over time it’s become less and less about that. I blog sporadically, upload to Instagram intermittently and all but disappear from Facebook from months at a time, and yet I don’t feel any less or more secure for it.
So I wonder if it’s more about self expression? As someone who’s always wanted to be thought of as being ‘nice’ (read: agreeable, un-challenging, considerate, amenable), I used to find it difficult to express myself in my ‘real’ life. Blogging and writing captions for Instagram has always given me carte blanche to have an opinion or feel a feeling, as well as somewhere entirely of my own to explore it. That’s a powerful thing, and despite being better at being disagreeable, demanding and challenging in my day-to-day life now, I’m still drawn to the platform the online world gives me. Not least because I’m better at articulating myself with a keyboard.
But more than that? I think it’s about something that’s almost like a super-power; something that goes beyond even ‘connection’. For the same reason reading a book is one of the world’s greatest pleasures, I like to place myself in the shoes of other people. To live a thousand lives, travel to countries beyond the reach of my income, experience triumphs and tragedies, take alternative paths – all that ‘stuff’ is perhaps the strongest pull of all.
That pull is not something I can satisfy without someone sharing their experiences, highlighting our differences and commonalities – whether they write a novel or keep a blog. So, I think I engage with online world to inhabit the lives of others – people I’ll likely never meet – and I get this crazily-good kick out of doing the same for a stranger a million miles away. Or a grandparent I seldom see more than once or twice a year. Or a colleague I sit beside everyday.
What about you? If you post anything about yourself online, at all, why do you do it?