Over on one of the blogs I follow I read a post concerning "blogs." The author was discussing which blogs she chose to read and what type of criteria she found her self using as there are so many blogs out there. This got me thinking about my very small niche within the larger online sewing community and the blogoshpere as a whole.
I started blogging in May of this year and I started it mainly as an outlet for my creative pursuits. I didn't know the first thing about sewing blogs or the online sewing community until I started one and as I began following blogs and reading what other people had to say my feelings toward blogging and my own blog began to evolve as the enormity of the online sewing community unfolded before me. Though this community is based online there are still very real societal constructs at play.
The social hierarchy and nuance being played out in this microcosm is fascinating. Everybody has a role and there seems to be a representative for every standard societal archetype, arguably stereotype....There are the "popular" lot, they even clique together at times, there are the "henchmen", those who hang at the periphery of the popular in an attempt to be recognized as popular as well, there are the "individuals", those who are "different" by choice and pride themselves on their "against the grain outlook" even though they are as plugged in as the popular since they continue to subscribe to the societal norms we have constructed as an online community and there is the mass multitude of nameless, faceless "operators." People who are part of the community, operating within it, but have either failed to distinguish themselves or are as yet unrecognized as part of a large subset. These people may be completely satisfied to observe from the fringe or maybe they are completely unsatisfied with this placement and so they scramble for recognition by the rest of the community.....and here I am.
I began viewing my blogging differently once I began to really pick up on this complex environment I stumbled upon. I no longer placed the value of my position in the community on my accomplishments in sewing or even music, the entire point of my blog mind you. I instead started basing my value within the community on my place in it or how I viewed my place in it. And I viewed my place in it as miniscule and insignificant having measured this by how many followers I had and how much traffic I generated and if anybody left me a comment. I wanted to be recognized and appreciated like some popularity obsessed teenager, so what did I do? I did what has been done countless times before since the beginning of time when attempting to obtain recognition within the dog eat dog world of "society." I networked, I advertised myself, I put myself out there. I held a giveaway, I posted on a couple of the well know online sewing-centric networking sites, I commented on a multitude of blogs (the "popular" ones particularly) and I checked my followers and "stats" constantly, fanatically. I felt like I had entered myself into a self sponsored rat race and there was no satisfaction to be had since the limits of success were unstructured and I could not stop expanding them...and having completely exhausted myself I decided I had to put a stop to this insanity.
Upon reflection I realize now that I felt compelled to act in this manner not because I am a fame hungry, recognition obsessed luney but due to a more complex and innate instict, something borne out of being a social creature by nature. I want the society and community I value and am operating in to accept me and want me as much as I want it. As humans we feel validated by the acceptance of our peers and the recognition of those we respect. It is also a survival mechanism, we want the pack to protect us and feel we are worth protecting. How awful to feel dispensable, useless and what an untenable situation to find yourself in. I believe these feelings and instincts are left over from our days living not at the top of the food chain and our only protection came from the small community we lived in and our very survival depended on our being recognized as an indispensable part of it. So valued by the community that our lose would be detrimental to the society at large and worth protecting at all costs. For these very nuanced reasons I feel that at times I place too much value on my "status" within the online sewing community and I invest too much energy in elevating my standing within it.
I have felt it necessary to reevaluate what is important to me and why I began my blog in the first place. The point of which was to document my creative journey for personal validation and as my own personal yardstick to measure the progress I make. I have had to consider what is actually valuable to me within this community so I don't lose sight of what I am attempting to accomplish, a community I feel very fortunate to be a part of even if only on the fringes. This community has a plethora of knowledge and experience to gain an education from, though I knew nothing of this before I started my journey it has truly become a valuable aspect of my online presence. Since my goal is to continue to learn new techniques and to apply them in the garments I make the fact that all this knowledge and experience is out there to be had, free for the taking, benefits me innumerably and I am truly grateful for it. My sewing has improved measurably due to the stuff I have been exposed to through this community. Isn't that what a community should be? A mutually beneficial construct where the members are able to freely exchange necessary commodities, in this case all types of sewing related information. The point of any community, at least in my opinion though I am by no means an expert, is to serve as an environment to nurture the members in some way not as a platform for vanity. Vanity being something I have all too often fallen victim. Here in lies the basis of this whole post, my finding it necessary to shift back to the nurturing aspects found within this community and a retraction from it as a means to fanning the flames of my misplaced vanity.
The point of this blog, for me, is to document my growth and progress. If others find that interesting or inspiring and would like to follow me on that journey than I am truly grateful that I have been able to contribute even a small bit to the community. For my own sanity I am no longer going to measure my own self worth upon things which are completely out of my control, like whether or not people find my journey intriguing or worth following. I will continue to produce garments at my own slow & steady pace, continue to blog about it and I will cease measuring myself against the success of others. I will be satisfied with merely operating within the community so that I can continue to learn from it and not feel inadequate if I am not considered a taste maker or a tone setter by others since all I can control is my own taste & my own tone.
Jeez....that was an epic discourse, maybe diatribe if you are so inclined, but I guess that other post really got me thinking and I am grateful for it.