Three years ago I was in a state of transformation.
My heart was on the mend and I was eager to try out my new independent-woman-in-the-city grown-up wings. They were barely dry, but they were beautiful. I wanted to see how they worked in my new life.
And so I did.
I dodged being drafted to a naked volleyball team.
And then I climbed back out of it, bedraggled, bewildered and shivering from that special kind of cold that comes from being discarded without grace or compassion by someone who has won your heart.
I took candy from strangers.
I documented the unfortunate life of a lovingly crafted, hilariously disturbing voodoo doll.
I marched in the Pride Parade.
I learned to shuck oysters!
Every day, this weird and wonderful city became more my home. And through it all I wrote.
I wrote when I was charmed and delighted by the city around me. I wrote my love, my curiosity, my anger, my humiliation. I wrote to grieve and to heal, to provoke, to entertain, to share and to learn. Sometimes I wrote just to make more space in my brain.
And finally I realized, I was writing because, no matter what I do during my 9-5, I’m a writer.
This city has changed me. It has made me bolder, and braver. It has given me friends I would never have known and now can’t imagine my life without.
This blog has changed me too. It has helped me get to know myself and introduced me to some amazing people. It has opened doors I would never have imagined three years ago. I’ve learned so much here in this wee cocoon of internet space.
Thank you so much for stopping by from time to time and being a part of the ride.
I’ve been thinking about trolls lately.
No, sadly, not the fluffy, neon-haired bejewelled belly button type (what a weird fad that was).
I’ve been thinking more about the type who prowl the internet looking for unmoderated forums to spew bilious, hateful trash. You know, the ones you encounter when, against your better judgement you think, “I’ll just quickly scroll down to the comment section of this thoughtful piece of writing or this heartfelt video.”
I believe in dialogue, I believe in letting people have their say and I believe in participating in important conversations. After all, respectful debate is essential for human evolution and democracy.
But man, few things are as optimism-crushing as a comment section on a viral post.
My personal policy is to try never to say anything online I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to someone’s face and/or be comfortable having everyone I know hear.
For some folks though, the possibilities that come along with perceived anonymity are too tempting not to test out.
Online, you can be whomever you want.
And for some reason, I guess a lot of people really want to be assholes.
Maybe they feel powerless or invisible in their own lives. Maybe they hate themselves or are bored with their lives and don’t have the resources to deal with that productively. Maybe they’re genuinely mentally ill.
Whatever the reasons, they bring their racism, misogyny, intolerance and bullying to the internet and let fly. Some seem to believe the nonsense they’re spewing, while others pathetically claim to be writing loathsome things just to get a reaction (the original definition of an internet troll).
Recently, a woman accused of “trolling” a family whose toddler went missing was unmasked by a news team when they found out Scotland Yard was investigating her Twitter account, with which she obsessively tweeted abuse towards the family, who she believed were responsible for their child’s disappearance. According to news outlets, she was found dead of an apparent suicide a couple of days later. The situation has sparked some debate over whether exposing so-called “trolls” in this manner is the right thing to do.
I don’t know exactly what the solution is. I value my privacy online, and I value free speech, but I do think that we need to take online harassment, threats, and hate speech seriously, because the internet doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and the more encouragement these so-called “trolls” receive either directly from other mean-spirited commenters cheering them on or through lack of consequence, the more likely that behaviour will be picked up by others and the more it will bleed into their lives offline. And even if it doesn’t, we all know by now that sadly online bullying can have devastating and fatal consequences.
Some say we should just ignore online bullies and trolls, but Stephanie Guthrie had an interesting take on misogynist trolls in particular in this awesome Ted Talk last September:
What do you guys think? Have you encountered online bullying or trolling on a personal level? How do you think we should deal with people who make it their mission to threaten or make others miserable online?
This week over on the League of Extraordinary Ladies we’re talking about who/what we’re currently obsessed with. I chat about my iPhone camera lenses, Best Friends Forever, and Bananagrams.
What are you currently crushing on?
So this is vlogging. I’m still not sure how I feel about the medium, or at least about myself sitting in my apartment rambling at a camera. But try anything once, right? At least I’m in good company on the LXL channel!
Do you guys vlog or watch vlogs? What are your favourites? I could definitely (clearly) use some inspiration!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Apparently I have too much money (just look at me up there cackling like a robber baroness at a picnic), because I am sponsoring another giveaway. This time it’s over on Diaries of an Essex Girl. We’re giving away $85 paypall cash, a $25 etsy voucher and 6 months free ad space. Get in on it!
Happy Monday, pets! Today I’ve teamed up with some other lovely sponsors of The Nectar Collective to show some appreciation for our readers with a draw for $130 deposited handily into your paypal account!
If you’re anything like me, yours may need some replenishing after the holidays, so why not take a second to leave some comments or follow some of the beauties pictured below (can I just say how much I love that we all submitted photos where we’re grinning happily? Not a duck face in the bunch!) for a chance (or several) to win? Good luck!
1. Winner will be notified within one week of the giveaway ending. Winner MUST respond to the congratulatory email within 48 hours in order to confirm their email address. If the winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.
2. Giveaway is open to anyone and everyone!
My friend Pete has been known to suggest from time to time that I should try my hand at vlogging.
He’s been at it again lately, proposing that I be part of a group vlog featuring some fantastic bloggers.
It sounds like a really cool project, but I have two concerns about his proposal.
The first is that between working 9-5, writing/researching for Spotted, volunteering for Mother Nature Partnership and working away on this tiny corner of the internet, plus trying to eat, exercise and have some semblance of a social life, my time for taking on new projects is slightly limited.
When I expressed this concern, his reply was that since a vlog should only be about three minutes long, plus a couple more for uploading, it doesn’t need to take too much time at all.
“Unless you get into editing (pain in the ass).”
I assume he means editing is a pain in the ass, and wasn’t just name calling me on account of my pain-in-the-ass reticence, but who knows.
Now I don’t know who these magical masters of eloquence who just record three minutes of their stream of consciousness and then just throw it at the internet backwards over their shoulders without looking are, but I’m pretty certain that is not the vlogger category I would fall into.
For one thing, I am rarely coherent on the first try, even without a camera trained on me. And as everyone knows, the camera adds ten pounds of incoherence.
For another, (and I realize this might seem at odds with my recent admission of slovenliness), I do have a streak of perfectionism in me.
There is just no way I could yammer away for three minutes and then slap whatever weird words and faces inevitably came out of me up onto the internet for the world to see. It’s bad enough I can’t shield people from my weird words and faces and pigeon sounds in person.
Oh yes, there most certainly would be editing. And, at the very least, if not a full script, there would at least be a carefully thought through and probably written down, outline.
Five minutes my butt.
So I thought I should probably say no.
But then I thought about my notebooks.
The beautiful notebooks given to me by friends and family over the years.
They knew I loved to write, but I’m sure they had no idea of the total paralysis a beautiful notebook could cause me. How I’d stare at the beautiful, crisp, clean pages, full of possibility and just plain freeze.
That’s the danger of aiming for perfection. It can stop you from trying the things you might actually love, things that could light you up and inspire you, just because you aren’t sure you’ll excel at them. Not just excel, but excel immediately. It has stopped me from writing down the stories in my head, it has stopped me from singing in public, it has kept me from learning languages.
How sad, how silly, is that?
It’s only in the past couple of years that I’ve been able to move beyond that a little. Filling beautiful books with my imperfect words and being ok with that.
I think blogging has helped to teach me that.
I don’t always have enough time to draft, edit, rinse and repeat before it’s time to make my offering to the internet Gods. Sometimes I even know that what I’ve written is pretty sub-par, but I do it anyway.
I do it to stick to my schedule and to move forward.
So who knows? Maybe I should give this vlog thing a try.
Though I think I’ll always keep at least one beautiful blank notebook around.
It’s just nice to have that possibility.