Remember the old days of blogging? I do, and fondly. I loved how blogging was like carving out my own online space to be creative, to express myself, to have conversations and connect with the people I loved.
But eventually blogging started to stall. People started migrating to Facebook and Instagram; these were the new methods of communicating your message. And they came with new rules. Provide shorter, pithier (and sometimes meaner?) content. Always include a photo. Maybe even build your post around the photo, instead of the words. Extra points if you can edit and improve the photo.
And so for a time, it became easier and simpler for me to just to pour my personal content onto the Facebook platform. After a while the photo requirements started to feel heavy. I’m not a visual artist or a talented photographer. I know nothing about photo editing. I tell stories through words, usually long stories. Even with all these changes, I still kept at it.
But years of this social media habit took its toll. Facebook began to stress me out. It wasn’t the light-hearted online gathering place it used to be. It was filled with angst and stress. But I couldn’t figure out a way to get off of Facebook and still be a communicator, because Facebook was where the people were. And if you want to have meaningful conversations, you need other people to be involved. And importantly, I loved the ability to keep in touch with friends who were far away.
But about a month ago, after reading a book and doing some personal reflection, I signed out of Facebook. I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it, not even my husband, because I didn’t know how long my decision would last. A few days later he asked me a question about something that had happened on Facebook, and I replied, “I haven’t been on Facebook for 3 days. I don’t know what’s happening there.”
He (and the rest of the family) seemed thrilled that I wasn’t on Facebook.
As the days and weeks went by, I found I was less stressed out. I didn’t necessarily think I was acting any differently, but my family told me I seemed happier. And every time I considered signing back in, perhaps to try to connect with friends or find out what they’d been up to, I was filled with dread. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was afraid of getting sucked back into the endless scroll again or being activated by triggering content.
This experiment proved to me what I had only previously wondered about: Facebook is a place of stress for me. At this point the stress is so intense that it’s not worth the gains of being on it. Once upon a time, it hadn’t been stressful. It is now. Even though I dearly miss catching up with far-away friends on social media, I’ve realized that taking care of my mental health in this way is the right thing for me to do in this season.
But what to do about the writers and experts I followed on Facebook? After some investigation, I learned that serious writers back up all their content on their own websites, and they have email lists for people like me who want their content but don’t want social media. I signed up for all the email lists I needed, and now I happily receive their content without the stress of social media.
This made me consider the idea that perhaps the future of blogging lies in its past. That maybe people are returning to website-oriented writing once again. Or that maybe in the future, they will. This blog is our own: Jonathan and I pay for the privilege of hosting our own online space. The content doesn’t belong to a “free” social media company that bombards you with pointless or offensive ads, or that is constantly monitoring your online behavior (read the aforementioned book if you want more insight into the monitoring).
Regardless of whether or not the future of blogging lies in its past (my prediction could very well be wrong), I’m choosing to return to my blogging roots. I don’t plan to get back on Facebook any time soon. If you want to follow my journey (especially as I repatriate to the States), following the blog will be the fastest way to see new content. (Simply click on “Follow trotters41” on the side bar if you don’t already subscribe.)
I’ll also plan to use third party aps to post to Facebook, but I won’t be around to answer comments on Facebook itself. And I’ll eventually make that announcement on Facebook, too, so my online friends know what’s going on with me.
I want to start writing again, and this is the place where I’m going to do it. It may be in fits and starts. It may be small updates at first. I might include longer essays at some point. I may share mundane things that are going on with me; I may share books that are helping me along my journey. I may suddenly share something really private and profound. I don’t know how it will unfold. I’m just going to begin again.
I’m going to let trotters41 be in 2021 what it was for me when we first transitioned to Cambodia in 2012: a place to share my journey and a way to walk into the future, whatever that future looks like. In a way I’m coming home. This is the place I first found my voice, and I intend to find it again. I hope you’ll join me here.
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