Five years ago, I was in Philadelphia, after deciding to spend Christmas with some friends instead of coming back to Brooklyn. While pacing back-and-forth in my room trying to think of a last-minute gift to buy, I decided to write to clear my head.
My old blogging site on Yahoo!360 was about to shut down so I needed to find a new space to write. I have always loved blogging and always saw it as an inherently revolutionary and community-building tool. So I signed up on WordPress and penned this piece outlining why blogging is so important to me:
With my other blogging site on the verge of shutting down, I have come across many people who wonder what the big deal is; after all, it’s just the internet, aint it?
Well, quite frankly, I am an avid believer in the internet, blogging, and the power the two have had and continue to have on relationships, politics, and identity.
I became aware of the power of blogging when Hurricane Katrina hit. Local newspapers were wiped out and national papers had difficulty getting in. However, regular people with friends, family, or they themselves who lost everything in the floods got on the internet and told their stories. They were not hindered by stringent standards of journalism, political allies, or profit: they were motivated by pain and a desire to share their stories. I remember reading some one’s blog who managed to post pictures of their house after the hurricane; or someone who described the pain he felt when they realized their parents were gone. Emotional relief through blogging need not wait for financial resources. All you need is the internet…
I see students who couldn’t care less for writing an essay suddenly have no problem writing about unfair teachers, painful homes and neighborhoods, first loves, lost loves, and other sentimental emotions in a passionate way. Blogs allow them the space to vent and reach out while simultaneously reading and writing more. Students won’t buy a newspaper but they will read an article online which often has a forum attached for questions and a space for people to blog and add more commentary.
And so, on December 23rd, 2007, this blog was born.
Reflections on five years
My earlier posts are much more personal and, to be honest, kinda terrible. Some of them make me cringe. But in flipping through them, I can’t believe how much has changed, personally and professionally. My blog has gone from “oh shit, is this life?” to “ok, I think I get this work thing” to “wow, this blogging stuff is pretty powerful” and now to “I am so grateful – let me share what I know and please, share with me.” And this year has been my best so far.
- I started a new job at Idealist.org, managing their social media and blog. The ability to combine my passion (connecting people to the resources they need to make a difference in their communities) with my talents (writing and communications) at a kick-ass innovative organization is truly a blessing.
- I started blogging for the Huffington Post. When you are asked to write for a major website, you begin to think more clearly. What message do I want to send about myself, my work, and my topic? How can I leverage this for more writing opportunities? Should I spruce up my blog for new visitors? It was a tremendous opportunity to connect with new people and work with greater clarity.
- I spoke at Net Impact. This was my first time being in a business-oriented space and hearing about the intersection of business and doing good. It was electrifying. People presented big ideas, shared successes and failures, asked challenging questions, and had a hunger for excellence and change. I left feeling even more committed to the work I do.
- I learned more about you. This summer I did a survey and I am SO glad I did: the diversity of readers here is refreshing yet presents a fun challenge for me as a writer: finding the sweet spot where I write about what I know/love while ensuring it is valuable to you.
- I impressed my boyfriend. Random, I know, since I rarely blog about my personal life anymore but I found his response endearing. Because my topic is so niche, most men don’t have any interest past “Oh, so are you gonna blog about me?” Yet my boyfriend was interested and loved what I wrote about. And so were his friends and family. Yikes.
So, what’s next?
Although five years flew by, now feels like a good time to take a break. I’m not walking away from blogging, rather, I am taking some time to figure out the direction of this blog. I love blogging waaaaaaay too much to give it up, but I’d like to focus on tightening my writing, being more helpful, and meeting more people. Let’s call it a sabbatical. How long? I’m still chewing on that one.
Let’s keep in touch
Happy holidays, happy new year, and thank you!