I started blogging in 2011 and I think I thought it was a good career move. I certainly saw it as Brand Tubridy and liked the idea of social bridges in all their forms.
That general notion fell a bit by the wayside about five years ago and blogging became more of a hobby and having a sense of being part of a decent community. Compared to other social media platforms, all of which I have left now, I never encountered anything in blogging but camaraderie and a sense of belonging.
There are still topics that I want to write about such as sense of place, my Ireland, the impact of elderly parents dying, poetry and matters sociological associated with my professional training. But, this is essentially a personal blog and I don’t see it being very tied up with career now.
One thing that stuns me is the fact that readers of the blog have come from a vast array of countries. I am hopeless at geography so haven’t a notion where many of the countries even are or why people from such far flung places would land on Social Bridge.
I suspect I am not alone in having only fairly vague memories of the early days of the blog and what I expected to gain from it.
What has your journey been like? Has your blog evolved much from how you planned it at the start and have you been surprised by the whole experience?
I wonder if we bloggers were better prepared than many to cope with the challenges of the pandemic. I’m inclined to think we were.
I think it’s because we are used to being ‘together apart,’ to borrow a phrase I heard on the radio this morning (Yes, I am a radio person much more than a TV one.)
‘Together apart’ is what blogging involves and it is what Covid 19 hates.
I continue to find it quite extraordinary that over my almost ten years of blogging that I have built up a ‘community’ of people from all sides of the world whose lives are intertwined with mine. So often, I am in the middle of something and I think of how one of my blogging compadres had written about a similar experience or had given a whole new outlook on it.
My nearest and dearest have come to know about quite a few of my blogging ‘friends’ and aren’t a bit surprised when they crop up in conversation – usually described by where they are from. That seems to be a big part of it in my subconscious.
There’s something very freeing about being able to write and express one’s thoughts without the whole palaver of issues around age, appearance, gender… Bloggers look and see beyond such features that can dominate ordinary interaction.
We see the benefits of that, or maybe I should speak for myself here, but they are what so many people are finding tough in this Covid era.
There is one thing, though, that I worry about when blogging these times. It’s whether or not someone reading a post is going through a hell that I am somehow accentuating. Finding a balance between positivity and diversion and just writing from the absolute heart can be difficult. Overall, I hope we know each other well enough and have enough trust to be able to write without fakery.
Thanks for being there, my friends, and I hope you are feeling connected – together-apart.
While the subject matter of most blogs has undoubtedly been affected by the horrible pandemic, very little else has changed about the blogosphere.
We don’t expect to see each other in person anyway: we judge by content not stuff like age, gender, race, appearance ….; we arguably know each other better than many of the people we meet up with regularly because we have been reading each other’s thoughts without distractions often over long periods; we look out for each other in our own little ways; we share a space that doesn’t require masks or social distancing; we don’t expect to ever hug each other. Our hugs are written ones that stretch right around the globe.
Yes, dear friends, we are so fortunate to have each other, especially at this crazy time when the rest of the world seems uncertain and unsure of itself.
I have been really bad at keeping my blogging going this last while. It’s not that there’s anything getting in the way of it. Rather, I feel a bit inhibited because I am acutely aware that everyone is being affected very differently by Covid19 right across the world and many are suffering terribly.
My Ireland is doing okay but we’re treading very carefully as there was a horrible rise in the infection number yesterday after what seemed like a very good outlook.
This morning, as July comes to a close, I am looking out at thick fog and heavy rain. I totally accept Irish weather because it’s what gives us our greenery and as life moves on I feel that sunshine is a state of mind and heart and not just weather-related.
The sun shines for me when life is calm and those I love are healthy and happy. What good is a bright sunny day when one’s heart is heavy.
So, wherever you are, I hope there is sunshine in your heart and, if not, I hope you can see that storms do pass eventually.
I need to do a major spring clean of my blog because of storage issues and a refusal to pay out vast sums, at this point, to do it the easy way.
Thing is, I don’t like tossing thinks away and while many of the posts and pics here may seem pretty worthless (and objectively speaking, they are), they have meaning for me. Just look at these shells. There are zillions of them but it’s their togetherness that I love and treasure and I see the continuity of the blog in a similar sort of way.
I know I can’t be the first person who has faced this conundrum. It’s tiny in the overall scheme of life and much better than thinking about tackling the house or, goodness help us, sorting out the world.
However, I want to try and get to grips with it and would welcome all ideas. Bear in mind that I am not super techy.
I was gobsmacked to hear from WordPress that today marks the 6th Anniversary of my blogging life.
I feel like I could write a tome about the lessons I’ve learned about blogging since January 2011 but what I want to do tonight is thank every single person who has interacted with the blog over the years.
I deeply appreciate the many friends I have made through Social Bridge. I find that you are with me on my daily round as well as here online. Hardly an hour goes by that I don’t think of how one or more of you would respond to a particular situation.
Maybe I’ll be bold and ask if there has ever been a time that I’ve suddenly crossed your radar as a result of something I’ve written either on my own blog or in response to one of your posts?
I wrote a post on December 17th, 2012 about my experience of having written a ‘Thank You’ letter to my father when he was in good health and how it was one of the things that truly helped me in the aftermath of his death in 2010. I can honestly say that coming up to my sixth Christmas since his passing that I often think of that letter.
The post itself is one of the most read here on Social Bridge. People don’t comment, they just read it, and I hope that at least some of them write a letter while they have time. Far better to write it when your parent is alive and well than writing it after they have died.
Before I paste a copy of the post that I wrote in 2012, I must tell you that I recently came across a photograph that Dad took of the very place that I mention in the P.S. I will add it in at the end:
In 2003, when my father was 84 and in good health, I decided to give him the gift of a ‘thank you’ letter for Christmas. Interestingly, I can’t remember if I gave him anything else to supplement it but I know for sure that the letter meant the world to him then and means a huge amount to me now.
It was a five page letter, written by hand with a fountain pen, and started like this:
This may seem like an odd Christmas present but I want to remind you of all the really ‘fatherly’ things you have done for me since I was born.
It covered happy times growing up and moved on to his involvement in my education:
Another aspect of life was the academic; your willingness to pay for me all those years in Trinity. The PhD was the outcome for me – a lot of money spent the outcome for you! Trinity was my first time away from home. I have vivid memories of you delivering and collecting me from Trinity Hall, driving me to the station, meeting buses. The car was always there and so were you with your warm smile.
There was so much to say and on the last page, I wrote:
In so many ways, it’s been the little things that have been everything – mopping up the cuts, catching the mice, just being at the other end of the phone ….. Nights chatting over cups of tea and sugary hot orange drinks …..
Father never, ever mentioned the letter to me after I handed it to him in a yellow folder on Christmas Day in 2003 but my mother told me that he was deeply touched by it. After he died almost seven years later, I felt a great sense of happiness that I had taken that opportunity to thank him when he was fit and well.
I was rather surprised when I was clearing out his house that there was no sign of the letter. I doubted very much that he would have thrown it out as he always kept things that mattered to him. Then on the day I was handing over the key, I decided to have one last look and there in a special hidey hole, I found the familiar yellow folder. It was well thumbed and I knew that he must have read the letter on quite a few occasions. It has now become one of my treasures and sources of solace.
So, from my experience, I would say: write that Christmas ‘thank you’ letter now and don’t wait until it’s too late.
Oh and there was a PS in the letter:
PS: Remember that magic moment when we saw the deer crossing the mountains in the snow ….
Comments are a huge part of being in blog land. They are what makes it such sociable place to hang out.
The other day a comment landed here on Social Bridge from Tara at Tara Sparling Writes. Tara’s blog, from here in Ireland, is one that I read as much for the banter in the comments as for the witty posts themselves.
The comment that she wrote was in response to Puppy Stan’s, Love Bites, and this is what she said:
I ‘m sorry I disappeared for a while there, Jean, while I was caught up in booky things. It was my loss. I could have done with a daily dose of Stanliness throughout that whole time…
I loved the idea of Stanliness and, by coincidence, that night I heard an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live about how words get into the Oxford English Dictionary. The one that was under discussion was Brexit.
Brexit has certainly become one of the most used and abused words of 2016 and, along with Trump, it seems destined to be part of our daily round for quite a few years.
Thing is, though, Stanliness is an even more fundamental part of my everyday life than either Brexit or Trump and it seems to have legs and a wagging tail.
Today, I got the full vision of what Stanliness actually means. It happened all in a moment out in the woods:
The framed face with those deep, determined eyes, pressing through the tangle of winter, brought me straight to this quote that I’ve long loved:
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, and invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back. (Albert Camus)
Yes, Puppy Stan represents my ‘invincible summer’ and Stanliness is something that can be shared, should be shared.
That one word in a comment can be so thought-provoking speaks volumes for the power of blogging and the connections that we make through it.
I’d love to hear about comments that have caused you to pause and lingered long in your consciousness.