by Megan Johnson, intern
The views expressed in this blog are solely my own and do not reflect the views of The Digital Arts Experience in any way.
As a marketing intern at The DAE, I manage all of our social media channels, which includes this WordPress blog. Before coming to The DAE, however, I’d gotten my feet wet in all different types of blogging sites throughout the years: Xanga (embarrassing), MySpace’s blogging feature (hyperemotional), Blogspot (nothing of relevance to say), Tumblr (also hyperemotional, but with photos and GIFs!), and finally WordPress. Using these blogging mediums for the past eleven years (am I that old?), I’ve clearly found purpose in writing in an online journal of sorts. So, if you’ll bear with me for one of my less emotional posts, here are a few reasons I’ve stuck with blogging my entire Internet life:
The people you connect with on blogs are different from those you meet in your everyday life. If you’re anything like me, you’re unlikely to walk into the nearest grocery store, for example, and form a deep connection with the next person you meet. Chances are they’re from the same town, have the same routines as you, and that their life story is not that different from yours. But online, you surround yourself with people with whom you share similar interests. You can connect over things that perhaps your friends don’t have an interest in. You find people who have been down all different walks of life and they expose you to a wider world.
As a Irish-Catholic girl growing up in a very small Irish and Italian-American town, I didn’t know too much about what other people were experiencing beyond the typical Eastchester situations. Having a blog and following others’ blogs helped me to see what was going on beyond the four walls of my room and see things in a different light.
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes my blogs would get a little hyperemotional. But, for the most part, they acted as a healthy outlet for the stressful feelings that come with adolescence and growing up. I identify as a writer: of stories, poems, songs and, well, blogs. So, to have a place I could turn to just by turning on my computer did a world of good for me. I wrote to express everything that I was feeling: stress, sadness, excitement, fear, anxiety, happiness, all of that. It helped to clear my head and keep up my spirits in times of change.
I support certain causes very passionately, specifically those involved with mental illness, and while I wasn’t being thoroughly educated about these issues in school or on the news, I was able to stay up to date through blogs. I learned about the different laws, movements, attempts to raise awareness, spokespeople and what was being done overall to reach out to those who struggled with mental illness. It was an education that I couldn’t obtain beyond maybe a day of Health class in school or on the evening news aside from the tragic stories. Following sites like TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms), an anti-suicide nonprofit, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health), and individual bloggers kept me informed and intelligent on the causes I cared about. On a lighter note, I also follow blogs that provide a certain type of education that I can’t get in school: sports! As a huge Mets fan, I need to stay up-to-date on my boys in orange and blue to be as true of a fan as I can be. So, Mets blogs are a huge part of my blogging experience as well.
As a writer and as a frequently stressed college student, I often need a pick-me-up. Early on, there were Xanga sites (does anyone even remember these?) that posted song lyrics and cheesy GIFs to try and make the angsty middle schoolers of that day and age feel a little less mopey and a little more glittery, I guess. Then, with Tumblr, we gained the ability to reblog these images and lyrics, but with the added sophistication of the format, GIFs, and the quality of the quotes. As silly as it may sound to those who never used Xanga/Tumblr, that action of reblogging to save that inspiration for later did a lot. I had a little tag going on my Tumblr called “inspiration” so that if I ever needed a pick-me-up, well, there it was:
“Allow yourself to be a beginner; no one starts off excellent.”
Except for me, of course. But that’s an entirely different story.
What have I learned from blogging? How have I grown? I have been exposed to people from all over the world who are eerily similar to me (sometimes making me think, do I have a clone?). I’ve been a resource to others and they’ve helped me in turn. I learn about the causes I care about and ones I didn’t know existed. My eyes are opened to different opinions and I’m supported by those whose opinions I share. Many times, in today’s day and age, we are told that our connections are so fake because we’re friends with people we don’t really know that well on Facebook or we feel more comfortable talking to certain people online, that we’re not engaged in the “real world.”
But I’d like to argue the opposite opinion: I think we are more engaged in the real world than ever. Instead of limiting ourselves, I feel as though we’ve grown by expanding our interests, knowledge, experiences, and, in general, our reality through the Internet. My reality was once the comfortable life in a New York City suburb, and though I won’t say that I know everything about everything (chances are I’m close), I’ve learned a lot more about the world from being immersed in the blogosphere. I’ve encountered people who have really struggled in their lifetime, stories that aren’t mainstream newsworthy enough, movements that connect people across the world, and it has been a beautiful experience.
I can’t wait to see what else I learn in the years to come. Because even as I finish up my formal education this year, I know I will still have so much more to learn from the wider blogging community.