What Does One Write in a Personal Blog These Days? (And what kinds of posts you might expect to see in the future)

I started blogging sometime around the turn of the century.  I had a couple of homemade websites up using some elementary Microsoft hosting and then eventually I found MySpace where Shipwrecked & Comatose was born.  

I still miss MySpace.  I liked the format.  The blog function made it easy for me to keep a daily journal of my mental flotsam and jetsam.  I could make every post public and open to all, open only to my MySpace friends, open only to certain MySpace friends, or private like a diary.  MySpace friends who liked my blog (and in those days I had my fans) could go to my profile and scroll through all the posts. I had friends who who visited it every day to see if I posted anything interesting.

Open blogging did take a toll on me.  I wanted to blog about all the minutia of my life.  I sometimes felt as if I were living for the blog.  Every thought that popped into my head became a potential blog post.  Every event in my life became a story to blog about.  I didn't always know when to keep my virtual mouth shut and offended more than one reader.  There came a time when I realized I needed to back off.

Facebook eventually killed MySpace.  I moved my essay writing here to Blogger and used Facebook for my random thoughts and updates about my life.  There are times when I think something is missing.

I have a third blog aside from Shipwrecked & Comatose and The Essential Rhubarb Pie.  It's on LiveJournal.  I joined LiveJournal years ago because I participate in a forum that is hosted there.  At first I had no need to use the personal journal feature, but over the years I found it useful for journaling the minutia of life.  When I say minutia, I do mean minutia.  It's a diary form of thinking out loud where I keep records of things like my diet and my finances and write out anything on my mind to come up with solutions.  It's mostly public because I don't expect anyone would want to read it.  There are times when I do want to write something personal, so I put those posts on private.  It bears no resemblance to either my old MySpace blog or this current incarnation of Shipwrecked & Comatose.

Recently I began to wonder if anyone who doesn't participate on the forums hosted on LiveJournal ever use it.  Do I know anyone who uses it?  I did a search for everyone listed as someone who went to my high school or college.  Almost nobody in either list has been on the site for more than ten years.  I can't fathom how that platform survives when all the users abandoned it.  Unlike Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it gives you so much space to be a writer and lay yourself bare.  When you have the kind of room to create LiveJournal provides, why not use it as a network for sharing and support? It seems like such a personal way to stay in touch with your friends.

I decided to do a bit of internet research.  What caused the fall of the public journal?  Why do we prefer to give nothing more than short soundbites or pretty photos instead of sharing ourselves?

The answers I received were grim.  Nobody wants to be real online anymore.  We use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to create a public version of ourselves and we don't want that version to be anything less than perfect.  We want to show the world how admirable our lives are.  What kind of romantic relationships do we have?  What interesting places do we travel to?  How fashionable is our clothing?  How adorable are our pets?  Social media are not a place to find community, but a place to show off.

That seems sad to me because once we lost our ability to be real, we lost our ability to connect and to support each other.  Instead of a community of friends, were are nothing more than a bunch of people showing off pictures of their dogs and creepy photos of their disembodied feet. (We can't even show our own faces anymore.  It's just feet - the body part farthest away from our brains.)

Personal blogs do still exist.  Blogs like this one where the blogger writes observations on a free blogging site are mostly dead, but there is a whole new generation of personal blogging.  Now these online journals are professionally designed glossy affairs where mommies and fashionistas and fitness junkies detail their lives in professional-looking photos.  The blogs are playfully self-deprecating with names like, "Crazy Mom Life" or "Fit Girl Loves Cupcakes" but all of them show good-looking, white, middle-class women who always come out on top when thing go wrong.

As soon as I visit one of these blogs, I am assaulted with a request to subscribe, and when I close that box, I still have to deal with ads glaring at me from the margins.  The posts themselves are full of affiliate links.  No wonder these women act so perfect.  Being real doesn't sell much. 

This isn't what I want from my relationships online.  I want to be real.  I admit when I first joined Facebook there was a part of me that wanted to show all the high school bullies who friended me what a fabulous life I have now, but that gets old.  If there is one thing Facebook taught me it's that there is a reason why I wasn't friends with certain people in high school.  We never had anything in common then, and we still have nothing in common as adults.  After I deleted my original account and and started up a new one with a much more edited list of friends, I was ready to share more of what's important and less of what makes me look good.

Leaving Facebook is never easy, especially for someone like me who likes to always be in touch with people.  Unfortunately Facebook can be dangerous for me because I become addicted to chasing likes and comments.  The same goes for Instagram.  This is why I am going to stick to my current compromise where I keep my Facebook deactivated until I have something to share.  This could be a blog post or any sort of announcement I think my friends will want to know about.

Now I have to consider the direction I want to take this blog.

I want this to be the kind of blog my MySpace blog was back in the early aughts.  I want to write more about what's going on.  I want to make more observations.  I want to continue writing essays.  I don't want to be perfect.  I want to reach out. I want to make more "A Day in the Life" posts.  They won't be meant to talk about how perfect my life is, but they will let people who care know what's going on with me (something people who care about me might want to know since I'm not on Facebook).

"Okay, Rachel," you say.  "Why all this navel gazing?  If you want to write more blog posts, write more blog posts.  You didn't need to spend more ten paragraphs babbling about it."

Now that I have babbled on for an additional three paragraphs, I will come to the crux of this post and why I am not sure how far I can take this in the direction I want to go. The crucial question is, how can I blog about my life, without blogging about the people in my life?

I am an over-sharer.  I'm an open book about most things.  There are some topics I won't ever talk about, but I don't have much to be ashamed of.  If I keep too much of myself private, then I risk closing myself off from people.  I don't want to close myself off from people.  I want to reach out to people.  We can't support each other if we are always hiding ourselves from each other.  Too many people in this world are closed off from each other.

Many people in my circle don't see it this way.

For example, I have found precious little support online or offline for spouses of Meniere's patients.   I formed a Facebook group that fizzled out.  I have looked all over the internet to find other women who go through some of the things I go through.  I found only a handful of articles.  If I can be one more wife, one more spouse, who can reach out and understand and give advice to others in my situation, I would love to do that.  But how do I do that without violating the privacy of the person who suffers from Meniere's Disease?

It can also be difficult to write even lighthearted topics and include people you know without them feeling targeted.  Years ago on MySpace I wrote a post where a friend recognized herself (although she wasn't named) in an anecdote.   She was quite upset and told me, "I don't want to be blog fodder" (and right now I made her blog fodder again - sorry about that).  Everyone I know is potential blog fodder when I'm writing observations about my world.  This is a difficult line to walk.  Readers can take offense because they think a post is about them when it isn't.  I might have a conversation with someone about a topic and it triggers a post, but that doesn't mean I'm attacking that person in the post.  I may criticize something in a way that strikes a nerve with a reader.  It's not intentional.  I don't blog to attack or offend people.  This blog is about me, not you (everything is always about me you know).  We live in a world where people love to be offended and take things personally (and I am no exception to that as I take everything personally).  I don't know what people will take exception to until I put it out there.  I can guess, and I try to avoid the obvious pitfalls, but I can't predict.

I don't know what will happen if I keep blogging.  I have to bite the bullet and start writing and what will be will be.  If I start having too much negative feedback, then I know it will be time to readjust and consider other topics to blog about. Either that or I say "screw it" and blog about what I want no matter what other people think.

After saying that, I realize I have little to worry about.

My last post had five views.  The post before that had fourteen views.  The post before that one had nine views.  The post before that had a whopping twenty views.  All of these posts were linked in Facebook.

Nobody is reading this blog, so I might as well say what I want!


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