the library of alexandra


Everyone Should Blog, And That Includes You

one of the reasons why i'm so passionate about the personal web is because i want there to be a diverse range of the human experience documented online. especially now, there are more internet preservationists than ever, and a part of me believes a digital legacy is the closest someone could actually come to living forever.

i talked a little bit about this earlier this month on mastodon, centered around the challenge of getting more folks to build more personal websites.

when trying to evangelize creating a personal website to someone with little technical know-how, sometimes i find it's a harder sell than those already familiar with what it takes to build a website. searching out tools and resources often ends in a rabbit hole of technical jargon, gatekeeping behavior on development forums and communities, or over-engineered processes and tools for the layperson's beginning journey.

in the 32-bit cafe, we talk a lot about how we can make building the web more accessible and approachable for folks without much technical experience. one of the best ways to get folks away from the fold of social media is by blogging on a self-managed platform (that isn't wordpress) or a small web service like bearblog or when exiting social media into the personal web, though, the challenge begins.

throughout indieweb spaces, i've noticed there's a deep saturation of blogs that talk about similar things: technology from the perspective of being within the industry, programming projects, fixes in coding, very specific technical problems, or general establishing content to bolster the author's expertise in a subject. there's a professional edge to it, even on some "personal" websites. to someone's first exposure to the independent web, it can be a little overwhelming.

there's nothing wrong with this at all, of course! the folks that make up the indieweb are really the modern backbone of the internet; developers in tech publishing fixes on blogs and having places to discuss technical issues is foundational to this generation of technical troubleshooting and knowledge-sharing. it's integral to software and web development these days. and i must admit, as someone who works within the UX space professionally, blogs that center around these subjects are useful to me as well.

but what about someone who doesn't feel like they have anything to blog? someone who feels like they don't have anything to say? i want to help lead by example: i am not immune to these doubts, especially after slapping a label like blog on it. unlike my other writing, i find myself asking, "what do i have to say that others haven't? i'm of <insert demographic>, haven't they heard enough from folks like me? i'm sure someone else has covered this from all angles, what else could i possibly add?"

i want and wish for more people feel like they themselves can be what they show the world—not just their work or their projects. i want to read your thoughts, your feelings, your perceptions of the world as it's happening around you. romanticize your life; tell me the minute details of your commute—your perception is yours, after all, and i've never experienced it before. if it's common or unoriginal, that's okay; nobody can tell it the way you can as long as you're writing it.

someone recently commented that their life was too boring to blog about. i vehemently disagree. you could stay at home, staring at the ceiling for 12 hours a day, and i would still wonder what you think about. that would be interesting enough for me to read. to me, that is part of the human experience that can be encapsulated into ones and zeroes.

we as humans experience the world in a multitude of variety; one's perception of an event is affected by the ripples of one's perspectives of circumstance, no matter your so-called "importance." your life is important, no matter how boring; your thoughts are interesting as long as you're thinking them.

of course, i am not advocating for the tolerance of intolerance, but instead, the publishing and promotion of experiences of the alleged mundane.

your blog doesn't have to center around your political views, ethics, or beliefs. if the most important things someone has to talk about are things that tear down other people, what does that say about their life and the type of experience they want others to glean from their blog? this, to me, is not as integral to your identity as the way you move through the world, your thoughts, the way that you choose to present yourself, how you impact others, and the perspective that powers the actions you take. i want to see your growth as a human being, your opinions changing, the type of thoughts you have after receiving additional information you never had before.

your blog doesn't have to be a curated presentation of yourself to the world—it can be a byproduct of it. there is something to be said about the journey of self-discovery through the act of blogging: putting yourself through thought exercises, thinking critically about yourself and your place in the world, and exploring thoughts publicly as documentation of someone thinking them. the concept of a digital garden shows us this is just as valuable and integral to the documentation of the human experience.

your blog doesn't have to be as tedious as a diary of what you did that day. i want to read published blog entries about how you've grown out of the kids' table at thanksgiving, your journaling strategies, walking through a park, or pushing back at the idea of only being professional and serious on your blog. i want to read how you're personally experiencing economic downturns; how your favorite books affected you; your goal-setting and progress you've made on those goals; how your family celebrates traditions; your analysis of your favorite TV shows and movies; your concerns about modern technology affecting your life; what you do to organize yourself; or anything, anything at all.

in the age of the influencer, relatability has been commodified; the uncanny valley of their reality being "relatable" has been sold as the bar to reach. relatability, though, is hard to come by these days when we find ourselves too polarized to relate to anyone; i wager i have more to learn from the teacher who blogs in their free time than the self-professed truthsayer on social media. there's far more authenticity in a handcoded html journal than an instagram profile.

for me and my blog, i may not have any ideas that are groundbreaking or even all that original. but for this person, who happens to be a speck on a moving rock flying through space, at least there'll be some record of the type of person i was; what it was like in a cross-section of time in my life, even if i'm not that person for long: my opinions will change, my thoughts will evolve, and i will grow as a person, as we all hopefully do. this doesn't dissuade me from blogging, from being wrong at some point in time; if anything, it's a reminder that this isn't just a digital garden i'm dealing with. my thoughts are sprouting, even now.

i hope to read your blog someday.

and when you're done, don't forget to create webpages too!