Why I blog

For my community engagement class, we have had to write reflections to share with the rest of the class that tie into the readings. My professor suggested and encouraged me a few times to write about my experience blogging. This post has been edited down from the original to keep with the degree of anonymity that I have adopted. But it’s been a good reflection on why I blog – something I’ve often been asked and is usually met with a shrug and a “why not?” sort of response.

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This has been a reflection that I have been writing, and re-writing, since the beginning of class when my professor suggested that blog on the topic. How do I write without touting my own horn? How do I sum up what I am trying to do? And can I speak candidly to a class that knows me when generally I can hide behind the screen of my computer?

Today, I went back to the readings with a ‘simpler’ idea to try on for size. However, the readings reinforced the original idea and I have strong feelings against a particular reading.

See, I am a writer. I have a blog that is being followed by people around the world, most of whom I do not know. One of my many projects is writing a memoir which is more steps closer than when I started this term. In an age of social media, I am just one of thousands of bloggers who think they have something of importance to share to the world. Memoirs are popular at the moment and I am one of many writers who dream of being published. And who cares, really?

Malcolm Gladwell criticizes social media as being able to do small-scale, low-risk activism that has very little impact (Gladwell, 2010). In particular, he is talking about using facebook and twitter for social activism and he has some interesting points. After all, the majority of facebook posts on my current feed have really nothing to do actually changing the world – instead, I have a list of what my facebook friends have done today, often in greater detail than I would find out if I sat down over a cup of something with those friends (And I admit – I am one of those who chronicles mundane moments of my life on facebook). It is incredibly easy to spout off your opinions and thoughts for the world to see and to enjoy a moment of popularity when the number of ‘likes’ to your status update surpass your expectations. The blogging world can be like that too – you can self-publish now really quickly for the whole world to see and for free!

Is this all social media is good for – self promotion and a momentary agreement that something should be done? Is social media activism for the “faint of heart” (pg 43) or for those “not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice” (pgs. 46-47) as Gladwell claims?

Not always – but in order for me to explain, I need to tout my horn for a moment (so bare with me!).

My blog is primarily devoted to sharing my stories, lessons, challenges and joys that come through healing and recovery from childhood abuse and shattering the stigma and assumptions that are out there! My case is not atypical, however it has elements that do not fit the typical stereotype. My abuser is an educated, upper middle class and published author who has been active in the community, in church, and in my family’s life. There is a lot of irony in my story – but basically, this person would not fall into the typical stereotypical conception of an ‘abuser’. Moreover, there is an ongoing court case regarding this that will have implications for many. As a Christian, most of my healing has been through lessons and experiences of faith and I share these things. My writings have been shared with many church members and pastors throughout north America and the U.K. – Churches have a bad history of dealing with abuse and abusers, and sadly, have perpetuated the problem.

Will this blog deal with the underlying causes of abuse and end childhood maltreatment? Will it motivate my readers to change the world in this regard? My guess is no to both questions. 

But are these the only ends to social media – to fix problems?

If social media was the answer to our problems, suffering around the world would be easy to fix. It’s not though (see Tufekci, 2010).

So who cares about what I write?

Every week, I get messages from those who have stumbled across my blog.

Some are abuse survivors themselves and they have mentioned that they have been encouraged that they are not alone in the road to recovery. Some are Christians who have been encouraged in their own faith journeys. Some have written to say that my perspective has challenged their thinking. Some have written that they are encouraged to stand up against injustice by hearing of how I have done it in a very public way (using our criminal court system).

Is this enough? I’m guessing Malcolm Gladwell would say no.

But this type of blogging is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it without sacrifice.

I am accountable for each word I write – potentially in a court of law. Legally, things could get kind of complicated – and that is a risk I take. The internet is anything but private and once the information is ‘published’ it can be sent to anyone and everyone, manipulated, commented against, etc. Advocacy and activism can haunt me in later days. Currently my blog is under a pseudonym, due to legal restrictions and to protect those whom I love who are not yet ready to spread the story. But if I change my last name to my writing name as I plan to do, I will come up in google which has impact on my professional life.

Is it worth the effort? 

If one abuse survivor is encouraged and does not feel so alone because of my writings…

If one friend of an abuse survivor is inspired to help their friend because of my story…

If one abuse survivor has the courage to speak up because I did…

If one person’s stigma of abuse changes because of my perspective…

If one person speaks out against injustice because they see it is possible because of my writings…

Then – yes. It is worth every effort.

And I believe that is how change happens.

 

Bibliography

 

Gladwell, Malcom. (2010). “Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted.” New Yorker, October 4, 2010.

 

Tufekci, Zeynep. (2010). “What Gladwell gets Wrong.” Technosociology.org, September 27, 2010

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  1. Barb
    December 2, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Well written Elizabeth.

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