10.03.2010

Stepping away from the blog

When I first considered starting a blog, I was really reluctant. It wasn't that I didn't think I had things to say or share (particularly because I was about to embark on a year-long M.A. abroad). The pros included the notion of continuing communication with my friends and family in the states; I was moving abroad to live with a boyfriend and neither of us knew how long my stay in France would be. The reality is, having a blog was an easy way to communicate with a significant number of people and it comforted my anxiety about staying in touch.

But on the other hand, I remember being almost... embarrassed. I had only read a handful of blogs up to that point and most of them seemed to be pure bragging. I couldn't put my finger on it back then, but starting a blog stunk of self-centeredness. Again, I comforted myself by that fact that I would be using it to keep in touch, a communication tool. It made me feel better.

I attended Your Brain on the Internet today, an hour-long panel discussion with neuroscientists and Internet gurus. It was so interesting that it ended hours ago and Chris and I have just finished discussing it. And though it was not the main point of the talk, there was one theme that got thrown out in conversation that has stuck with me since: the Internet and self-promotion.

I sit here conflicted. As Chris pointed out, this blog has been a great tool for me to express myself, to get my thoughts down on paper. To some extent it continues to be a tool of communication with friends and family who live far away. But I am having some serious problems with blogging tonight, so much so that I'm considering dismantling the whole operation.

One of the panelists pointed out that studies show that even Facebook users who have 1,000 or 10,000 friends actually have 4-7 close friends in real life. In French, there's an expression that you can only have as many "amies" (close friends) as the fingers on one hand. And I think I've been pushing this boundary, refusing to believe that it's true. Out of all of the amazing people I've met in the world, how do you narrow it down to 4-7?

The truth is that life does that for you. You don't actually have time to be close with more than that number, unless, maybe, your job is making and maintaining close friendships. Four to seven friends are just the amount that should know about how your relationship is going and what happened at the doctor and how your parents are doing. It's really all you can commit to, regardless of how easy it is to "add a friend" on your favorite social media site.

What happens if I don't provide this one-way portal into my life? It forces the people that I know to either write or see me more often... or not. I hate the idea of losing touch. But I also hate the idea of a one-way friendship that exists via social media so that others know what I'm up to.

In the subway on the way home, I admitted to Chris that much of my time spent on the Internet makes me feel terrible about myself. People tweet about what they're doing or who they're with, others post the same stuff on Facebook, bloggers post the adorable outfits they've thrown together. And instead of inspiring me, it really just makes me feel inadequate.

There. I said it.

And maybe this is the nature of the beast, but I suppose I'm really examining whether I want to be part of this beast.

When I imagine the things that I post on my blog or on Facebook or on Twitter, it horrifies me to know that there is some aspect of self-promotion in almost every post. And that's not the kind of person I am! And it's certainly not the best person I can be. There's something to be said for publicly setting goals to hold you to them, but there's also something to be said for holing up and asking yourself what you really want.

The easiest posts to write on this blog have been the informative ones- here are some great books out there or here are some great places to visit in Paris or here's a great tailor in New York. I suppose that's because they provide a specific service to readers; those posts do not promote my ego or what's going on in my head. I think there's a place for those on a blog. I am not sure, though, what else belongs.

So long as I am in this state of discomfort about social media posting (blah blah blah buzz words blah), I'm not going to do it. I may find a new energy or direction for this blog, in which case I'll come back and post more here. I may decide to shift what this blog's focus is, or what it intends to accomplish. Instead of it being about me, it might be about my writing or something more niche. I'm taking a break from Twitter and Facebook too for the same reasons.

Thanks to all of you who have read or kept reading. Every comment or email was appreciated and I'm so happy to have stayed in touch with some of you because of this blog. I hope that, no matter what the fate of this blog, I'm able to remain connected to all of you.