‘Normalize Being Whole Persons’

It seems like in the past six months much of the meta-blogging has been about anniversaries: so many people seem to be marking ten, fifteen, even twenty years of blogging. It seems this naturally leads to thinking about why.

Simon Reynolds last December noted having missed their anniversary two months earlier.

I completely failed to register this when the anniversary rolled around two months ago: it’s been 20 years since I started Blissblog. Two whole decades – a third of my life – I’ve kept at this thing! Not just posting here, but at the daft profusion of satellite blogs spun off it – got a little carried away with the fun of proliferation!

Colin Walker this week noticed that he’d missed his anniversary of twenty years, although by a mere two days instead of two months.

So much has changed over those two decades, not least the blog itself as can be seen in my retrospective. The look, the platform, the topics I’ve covered, they’ve all been in a constant state of flux. Ultimately, I’ve always posted about what interests me at the time — that’s all you can really ask for from a personal blog.

It’s funny that Reynolds specifically calls attention to having blogged for one-third of his life, because Mandy Brown cites the same thing while marking her anniversary of fifteen years.

Fifteen years ago I published the first post here, and fifteen years is one-third of my life, but I’m trying to locate that math in my body and coming up short. Not because it doesn’t feel so long ago—it does—and not because I expected to still be here after all this time—I didn’t. But because the experience of having this place is so ingrained I can no longer find the edges of it.


These sorts of anniversary posts interest me, of course, because I’m still in the midst of what will be the long haul of restoring two decades of blogging across (at last count) thirty-nine different sites, eleven of which already have at least some sort of restoration achieved.

Recently I decided to stop filling in posts from the past few years in favor of going back and tackling the earliest blogging I’ve been able to find: my first entries on the website of the Global Effort to Eradicate Know-nothings. I can’t shake the nagging feeling that I’d some sort of blogging prior to March 2000, but there’s no proof of this to be found anywhere.


Reynolds:

I put it like that because blogging remains my favorite format precisely because the writing so rarely feels like labour. Liberated from the need to pitch an idea or wield credentials, blogging – for a professional writer – frees you up to address topics outside your perceived expertise. It feels like a leisure activity because it’s leisurely – a ramble across fields of culture and knowledge, during which you sneak short cuts and trespass into areas you are not meant to go. A post doesn’t have to have a destination, a point. You can bundle or concatenate several different topics, push into adjacency things that don’t obviously or naturally belong together – like oddments inside a Cornell box. You can start somewhere and end up somewhere completely different, without any obligation to tie things up neatly.

Walker (later):

After such a long time a blog becomes part of you, has become part of me. It is part of my very being and identity. It sounds a bit odd yet so much my life and ideas and dreams are held within these posts. The look may change, the colours, even the topics and fascinations it covers, but that reflects my own propensity to change over time and as I age, different clothes and hair styles, different interests and responsibilities.

Brown:

I’ve been distracted over and over. I’ve been lost and submerged and I’ve drifted away. If you look at the pace of writing over the years, you’ll see many long periods of drought, punctuated by the occasional drenching storm. Which is as good a signal as any about what this place means to me: anytime some space opened up, this is where I turned. I’ve come to see that movement as akin to returning to the breath: when you sit in silence, you lose awareness over and over and over again. What matters isn’t holding on (that’s impossible). What matters is coming home.

Walker:

But then something shifts within me and I have to come back. That could take days, months or even years but the shift has (so far) always happened. I hope it keeps happening. Things have realigned and the urge returned to post, to share, to send thoughts and ideas out into the world. I don’t pretend to know why.


Roy Tang, in a post not about anniversaries but about writing online and writing one’s self:

Recently a friend who is a very serious figure in certain business circles started tweeting about one of her fandom “ships”. Later on she mentioned that some people had suggested she set up an “alt” account for her fandom stuff because it “detracts from her image”. Her response: “Thanks but I don’t think any of my fandoms detract anything from my accomplishments. Normalize being true to your geeky fanfic reading die hard shipper self AND kicking ass.”

[…]

You are (I hope) a person, not a company or a “brand”. People are a varied lot and each individual has their own peculiar set of interests. What you write about and who you read on the internet should reflect that. I think that the world and the internet are big enough that there will be people who will be interested in your writing anyway. And I believe the internet will be all the richer for it.

Winnie Lim, in a post about being creatively flexible, responding to Tang:

Yes pls, normalise being true to your hobbies and interests and your whole self – also why I refuse to have dozens of different instagram accounts and websites for each of my interests. Everything I do is intertwined in some way and I can’t slice myself cold into separate slices.

We have to write about anything and everything to widen each other’s narrow perspectives, to express the amazing amount of detail that reality has, to normalise being whole persons, that having a wide variety of interests can be a good thing, because everything will ultimately feed into who we are and what we create.

Brandon Writes, unknowingly (maybe?) responds, too, in a post about being truthful with yourself:

It’s true, I needed to eat healthier and begin working out, I just didn’t need to completely cut off my all of my interests for it. Instead of saying, “This is the new me and let’s burn down the old me” I should have worked on just reprioritizing my time and adding healthier habits to my life. In a way, by cutting off my interests, I shamed myself for liking things that a nearly forty-year-old man “shouldn’t” be into. “Horror movies, science fiction, comic books? Come on Brandon, it’s time to grow up” I’d tell myself. And once the excitement of my new hobby of working out wore off, I found myself angry and feeling empty.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I hate myself, I just struggled to accept who I am, even when it makes me happy. For some reason, I tend to think that if I spent less time indulging in pop culture, I would be a happier person. I’d have more IRL friends and life would be grand, but this is all illogical and I know it. It’s just a lot of old messaging that’s been imprinted one me stirring up trouble.


Julia Evans recently debunked some myths about blogging. Without quoting their explanations, here’s the list of eight such myths.

  1. You need to be original.
  2. You need to be an expert.
  3. Posts need to be 100% correct.
  4. Writing boring posts is bad.
  5. You need to explain every concept.
  6. Page views matter.
  7. More material is always better.
  8. Everyone should blog.

This post didn’t get a title until I was almost done with it, because Lim’s injunction “to normalise being whole persons” (Americanized in my title) is sort of what my entire blog restoration project is about.

Brown:

The new stuff sits next to the old but doesn’t supplant it, doesn’t shove it out of the way. Each new post lays atop the next like sediment, and all the old layers remain exposed for you to meander through, with their mediocre sentences and lapsed claims, all the sloppy thinking ever on display. It’s a great exercise in humility, keeping a blog for this many years.

There are two decades worth of Bixes that have been lost to the memory hole of identity crises, changing interests, and expired domains. These layers only have existed in some unconscious substrate of my own mind with all its memory deficiencies. All of these Bixes, and all of those layers, technically are me, even if—as is inevitable—I come to find that I can’t quite recognize all of them.

I am a whole person. So were those other versions of me. Unlike many other bloggers, but very much like my own sense of self, they’ve never actually existed together as a continuous whole. After the fact though it’ll be, many or most of them will, hopefully by the end of this year.

I wonder what that will be like.

Referring posts