“So soon!” I hear you cry. Yes, it’s just a little over a month since I last swung by this space to give you an update after a long stereo silence and here I am, back again! I’m as shocked as you are, really.
I originally started this post writing about my January. I started to tell you about how fast it’s gone, how it feels like nothing has changed, how rubbish it has been and I have felt. And, in the interest of ensuring honesty I have to say that so far 2019 has been a bit of a bust. Not because anything has gone wrong in particular; there have been no new problems to deal with, but because I having been living by checkpoint and tantruming because I couldn’t leave the burdens of last year in year. Life is tough right now and there is little I can do to control that fact, however, five paragraphs in (yes, I rambled on for that long before deleting – you know how I like to ramble) I realised how pathetic and sad I sounded.
So, I did what you do with writing which you can in no way do in real life and I deleted it. Start again. Round 2.
And, here we are.
This is the bit where if we were in person we would sit in a slightly awkward silence, take an awkward sip of our tea and then say something like, “So, that Brexit, huh?”
It’s been a struggle to think about what to write today, but that’s been the case for me for the last year or so. This blog falling by the wayside is not just as a result of life getting in the way, as I mentioned last time (although that is a strong 80% of the reason), but also because the platform I host it on isn’t the best and I haven’t got the capacity to figure out the workings of moving over to a different platform right now (5%). The other fifteen percent is down to the fact that I have been really struggling with writing in general.
When I first created this space the blogging landscape was very different to what it has become now. As with anything, the popularity of blogging grew and with it came the obligatory implosion as a result of over saturation in the market. As the implosion continues I’m watching bloggers jump ship to the vlogging community, become niche to a specific topic or give up all together because they aren’t getting the numbers - the validation - that meant that their time was worth anything. Blogging became a competition. Everyone was grappling to become the next big blogger, it was a fast track to becoming famous and one that had limited capacity. It became all about brands and the side hustle, and less about the art of writing or photography. Being as I am (that is to say easily spooked and influenced), I started to take a step back. As my inbox started to fill with emails offering me free eyelash extensions and false nails to review, I started to feel as though this space was worth nothing unless it was being used to influence people – something I wasn’t overly interested in doing.
At the height of my writing confidence I was writing multiple times a week here, I was writing monthly for a magazine site, bimonthly for a few local sites and was constantly sending pieces out for ad hoc publication. It was all opinion pieces, or attempts at thought leadership. But slowly, over time, I have lost my voice. Suddenly everything that I wrote felt pointless, either because it wasn’t “influencing people” or because I didn’t feel like there was any substance to it. My opinions didn’t matter in such a saturated world and I fear sticking my head above the parapet to make it load enough to be heard. So I stopped. Everything stopped. Slowly but surely I went from writing content to writing nothing.
I think in this world where opinions are so freely given and so swiftly annihilated if picked up by the wrong person, it is very scary to jump in. Especially when you fear being wrong.
Watching the western world seemingly divide over Brexit, over Trump, over whether or not Gemma Collins is entertaining or unnecessarily diva-ish, it throws everything into uncertainty. Constantly we hear the words “in this age of uncertainty”, “As we face an uncertain future”, “with the uncertainty this brings”. It instils the notion in our very core and before you know it you are influenced into feel nothing but uncertainty in everything.
Now, bringing everything back in line from this first-world-problem perspective, there are far worse things to suffer with than a fear of putting metaphorical pen to metaphorical paper. As a species, humans have faced uncertainty consistently throughout time. Amongst invasion, civil wars, world wars, cold wars, the human race has survived uncertainty. Brexit and Trump combined is nothing compared to some of the things we have faced in the past. (Watch them confirm my fears about being wrong, start world war 3 that obliterates the planet and leaves the last cockroach standing reading this having a little chuckle to themselves). That all being said, regardless of the reason behind the uncertainty, if it is there we will feel it. And that’s ok. After all we are a privileged generation that have been raised by a privileged generation, we’re going to feel anything that threatens our privilege. If it’s there, they can take it.
Uncertainty, by nature, puts everyone on edge, which in turn makes everyone more likely to fight or flight. And fight some are doing well. Too well. As the digital age develops and the volume of keyboard warriors multiply, and as uncertainty brings with it a more vicious fight the fear of being wrong becomes very real. No more can you have an opinion and have someone write in to Points of View with a sternly worded disapproval. Now you get a death threat littered with emojis. And that’s the basis of my fear.
I don’t want to be seen as stupid, naive, uneducated, or worse, ignorant. I like to think that I’m fairly well read, up to date with current affairs, and balanced in my views (in that I can usually see both points of view), but all it would take is one warrior to virtually bash me over the head with their keyboard for me to be paralysed with fear. So I paralysed myself. If it isn’t there, they can’t take it.
So, that’s where I’m at. Slowly trying to wake myself up from the paralysis of the last year. Starting with one blog post at a time.
Well, would you look at that, I wrote an opinion piece.