eQuilt Universe

On Blogging, Part 2

Recently on Creature Comforts, Ez wrote “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You,” a discussion about life behind the blogging curtain.  Leave yourself some time, if you want to hop over there and read. One salient quote:

“However as time has gone on, and with the ever-expanding roster of blogs that are out there showcasing pretty thing after pretty thing, I’ve come to realize that all this beauty can actually have the opposite effect. The always-nice that we see on constant display everywhere we look (from blogs to magazines, etc) becomes frustrating because it doesn’t really look like how our life looks, right? Instead of visiting a blog and feeling inspired, we quite often leave feeling less than, and like our life can never really match up to what we see.

“As a long-time contributor to this trend of pretty-everything I should know better, but even I get sucked up in feeling like other bloggers are more successful, have better wardrobes, perfectly behaved children, gourmet meals pre-made weeks in advance…they host fabulous parties with every last detail glittered and festooned to perfection, take lavish vacations, sign book deals in their sleep and pose for photo shoots in their immaculately clean designer-decorated homes. Please can I at least get a raised hand if you’re feeling me on this.”

I’ve heard too many blogging friends say that they recently have come to a point where they hate blogging, that they just want to sew and walk away from the other part of having to put up photos and commentary on what they do at the sewing machine.

I graduated with an MFA in Writing, and this idea, that our private selves–or what we do when we create and spend time thinking about while move around our bits of cloth–can be in opposition to our public self, is not a new one.  Cezanne was famous for this, often packing up his paints and easel and leaving if he thought someone was watching him.  But even he participated in gallery shows, presenting his work for his audiences when he was finished with it.  The difference between us and Cezanne, is that blogs are DAILY (or at least WEEKLY) and are giant content sucking machines.  And usually that content comes from us.

And we all know you have to have generate content to blog.  And if you don’t have content, you have nothing to write.  And if you don’t write, then you don’t have a blog, which many quilters use as a tool to decrease the isolation as well as foster a conversation of sharing.

Bridging this innate tension between wanting to create privately, with sharing what you are doing with the public, is a constant.

I have one more post about this.

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eQuilt Universe

On Blogging

Do you like to blog?  The previous post discussed audience, and how we find our audience for our quilting and our art through some linky parties.  But this one is more about the blogging–the writing, the putting down of our thoughts and our ideas, the putting down of ourselves for others to see and (hopefully) comment on.

When I sit and read through lots of blog posts, like on a Linky Day, I am overwhelmed by how underwhelming my work is. I feel like I produce nothing, while all of you are out there with Bigger!  Better!  More Colorful! and looking like Jennifer Lopez or Jackie Kennedy (pick your icon) and I’m just sitting at my sewing machine/computer with unwashed hair in my slouchy pajamas.

I believe one place this feeling of inadequacy comes from is the deluge of interesting projects and quilts that I click through in short order.  It’s like going to a quilt show, with multiple projects all out there for you to see.  However, when we are in a giant hall, with loads of hanging quilts all around us, we recognize that we are at a quilt show and are there to gather ideas and inspiration.  But when we’re home breezing through blogs, we think we are looking at someone’s real life–that they are endlessly pulling quilt rabbits out of hats and never have a bad day, or one that they’ll write about.  I’ve been reading in Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, and he notes that when we gorge on internet reading, we become “mindless consumers of data.”   He continues, “Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains shallow. . . we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections.”

Perhaps at this point, we need to push back from the computer and realize we aren’t looking at quilts. We’re looking at a “blog”– a constructed persona, full of sunshine, happiness and perfectly pieced points.  I love the following quote on how we portray ourselves on Web 2.0, the internet:

“That kind of thinking is precisely what I’m talking about, what lies behind the bland, inoffensive, smile-and-a-shoeshine personality — the stay-positive, other-directed, I’ll-be-whoever-you-want-me-to-be personality — that everybody has today. Yes, we’re vicious, anonymously, on the comment threads of public Web sites [I think of the recent brouhaha between Kate Spain and Emily Cier], but when we speak in our own names, on Facebook and so forth, we’re strenuously cheerful, conciliatory, well-groomed. (In fact, one of the reasons we’re so vicious, I’m convinced, is to relieve the psychic pressure of all that affability.) . . .

“Well, we’re all in showbiz now, walking on eggshells, relentlessly tending our customer base. We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something (though thanks to the Internet as well as the entrepreneurial ideal, more and more of us are), we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves like little businesses, something to be managed and promoted.

“The self today is an entrepreneurial self, a self that’s packaged to be sold.”

Do you ever feel like this–that we package ourselves to “sell?”  More on this in next post.