Blogging has changed us. Some for better and some for worse. That’s to be expected when something we’re excited about takes hold of us and refuses to let us go. I know that’s how I felt when I began blogging. It was exciting and scary to put myself out there in a way I never had before. I was used to working out my issues (and boy do I have them!) by writing short stories and drawing but never sharing them with anyone. A stack of half-filled journals in my office can attest to that.
However, it’s not as if I was a stranger to making a bit of a fool of myself online. While I was still writing and drawing for myself, I was starving to connect with other people and the internet thrilled me. By 2001 I was deeply immersed in chat rooms, parenting forums, and message boards. I was searching for others like me; women crazy enough to have three children 5 and under. That’s really where everything started; a need to find answers to the questions I had and make new friends.
I was the only one of my friends breastfeeding my children, I was also the only one staying home with them too. It’s not like I had a ton of time on my hands but I needed to know that I wasn’t completely crazy. I signed up for every parenting site there was at the time (iVillage and ParentSoup anyone?) I even became a message board moderator because I loved talking to others so much.
Been There, Done That (bought the T-shirt)
There’s no point in rehashing my post from last month about how brands and media companies killed the personal side blogging for us because that was probably going to happen at some point, right? Oh but I remember those OG glory days. Google was still a baby and so was Mark Zuckerberg for that matter. AOL ruled the school. If you sat and listened to the whir of a dial-up connection, held your breath, and crossed your fingers that someone in the house didn’t pick up the phone to make a call, you know what I’m talking about. It was new and shiny; the internet.
The World Answered Us
It taught me what natural remedies I could add to my diet to keep milk production up when I returned to work and kept nursing my daughter. It allowed me a super cheap way to keep in touch with my friend in Georgia (hi there yahoo email). The internet opened up so many doors for us and when the blogging community was born, many of us, with voices to be heard and stories to share, jumped in and brought our hopes, dreams, and hearts with us.
We also brought questions, problems, and compassion for others like us. Maybe our sans internet BFFs couldn’t relate to what we were blogging about but By George nearly everyone who had access to an internet connection understood us. We could share the funny and painful with people who only knew us by our Blogger handle but they were our BFFs inside the fiber optic, mystical world of the internet and we held on tightly to them. They were the lifeline that kept so many of us breathing.
Saving the World
A few weeks ago Asha asked if we could rebuild America and then Jenny called us back to the front lines. I for one, am so glad we’ve been called back up for duty. It’s been lonely out here slugging through the sea of sponsored posts and social media campaigns that our precious community has become. We need to tell our stories once again. We need to shine lights in dark places and put names and faces on the people and things that matter most to us once again.
I’m talking about reigniting our independent spaces once again. Turning up the volume on our individual voices and real-life stories, sharing our values…creating an alternative to the mass media (now social media) messages and memes that keep floating to the top. – Asha Dornfest, Parent Hacks
Ladies (and gentlemen), once upon a time we couldn’t give a shit about keywords and SEO and we changed the landscape of media; built communities and gave voices through comments and word of mouth (ie message boards). We can do it again and we can do it better because we have a million more tools than we did then.
In the coming weeks, I will be rebuilding my blogroll and virtually knocking on your doors with love, comments, and a smile. I hope you’ll join me.