Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Confessions of an Internet-Avoider: Why I Struggle with Being Online


I feel like the time has come to fess up to something I've really struggled with for years, something I'm quite embarrassed to admit and something that is probably going to raise your eyebrows with scepticism. But it's something I feel I need to talk about, almost an apology or explanation for being the worst blogger in the online community. 

'Blogger' - strange. It feels weird to apply this term to myself as I really don't feel like a blogger. Yet here I have been, for a few years now. Distributing things into the web-sphere and feeling utterly detached from it. 


For me, blogging feels a little like posting manuscripts for unfinished stories in the post-boxes of strangers. I feel so disconnected from the whole process, especially since my blog has morphed in time and lost its original purpose. 
The thing is, I document some of my memories, I write them up with no particular audience in mind and then  post it out into the world, turn my back on it and then forget all about it. It's like walking to the postbox at the end of the lane, sending a postcard to a made up address and then going back to the house for a cup of tea. 
But that's not what blogging is all about, it's about community, and engagement and sharing. I always have this horrible sense of guilt that it's not a place for virtual hermits like myself. In my head, if I were to give an image to the web-community, I'd picture it as this big sociable party where everyone goes on a Friday night, loves, the music is loud and the people are sharing wonderful stories, tips about where to go, how to dress and how to help with makeup. There's a room for everyone, no matter how quirky, socially awkward, introvert/extrovert or outrageous you are. Everyone has their 'group' and everyone is welcome. And yet there I am, sat at home in my pyjamas, gazing out the window while my invitation sits unopened on the table and my friends and acquaintances are wondering "where on earth is Sarah?" "Does she even care?"


Of course I care. When I come back to my blog to find these kind words from these sweet strangers, people who have taken time from their day to not only read my meandering posts, but actually comment on them, I am filled with an extremely humbling feeling. It's like honey and I feel incredibly grateful. It's like when a stranger holds a door open for you and smiles, or helps you out when you're struggling for change on the bus. It's that feeling of when a stranger is holding a free hugs sign in the street and another person goes up and hugs them and your heart mellows, it's that feeling when the barista who's making your coffee gives you a friendly wink. 

Over the years, I've found myself spending less and less time on the internet. I always enjoyed reading blogs, and though admittedly I never read as many as I 'should*' I particularly enjoyed learning about people that I felt I sort of knew, engaged with or who's names I recognised popping up time and time again with sweet words. There are people like Kezzie, Anna, Alice, Cherie, Mimmi, Chelsea, Chloe, Emma, Melanie and many others (I'm sincerely sorry for missing anyone's names) who brighten up my morning or evening time after time with their thoughtful comments and who I delight in taking a peek at their stories in turn, feeling a little less like this world is a huge and terrifying place filled with strangers.

*Is there a recommended/socially expected amount? 

This year though, it's reached a point where I am feeling extremely detached from blogging and even the community. I struggle with leaving comments, even when I've read and thoroughly enjoyed a post and I find it impossible to join in twitter chats, threads and even Instagram communities. I feel rude and selfish, like I'm the spoiled child sitting in the playground with my arms folded refusing to join in on everyone's games and I'm continually beating myself up for it, but there are two fundamental things that stand between me and being a 'properly dedicated blogger' or even using the internet recreationally for that matter. 




G U I L T    &   C O N D I T I O N I N G 


If you do happen to be one of the beautiful strangers who regularly check upon this space, you'll know me by now as the sort of person who loves to be outdoors. All of the time. Growing up, I was the kind of kid who did a lot of extra-curricular activities. At one point, I was doing Surf Life Saving club 3 days a week and Sea Cadets 2 days a week and then spending my Saturday's off, exploring Illogan woods, playing with tree swings and walking down to the beach. I really didn't spend much time indoors at all. If it was good weather, I had to be out doing something. My Dad and I are quite 'activities' based sorts of people, we like to be out in the good weather - even if it's just for a walk or bike ride so as a kid I didn't spend a lot of time indoors and if I did, I'd be doing something like drawing, painting or reading. It didn't help that throughout my life, I encountered a lot of negative experiences with people around me who had unhealthy video game addictions, often lashing out as a side effect of too much time spent playing. I developed a really negative view of video games (not including the Sims :P) almost to the extreme and it only pushed me even further into my personal view that any free time should be spent outside. 
When the internet became a huge thing, I never really jumped on the bandwagon. I was outside trying to figure out how to use my surfboard and I guess I never really caught up from there. When I first discovered blogs, they were these diverse, hand-madey personal spaces where people just wrote stuff regardless of whether people were reading it or not. There were no flashy templates swanning about and no pressure to have a ton of followers. People shared their art, their writing, their outfit-combos or whatever they felt like and it felt organic, stripped back and scrapbook-like. I liked that notion and quickly joined in with my own online diary, although I was sporadic with my entries. There was no pressure. 
Now that I am a wedding photographer, I have to spend an awful lot of my time on the computer. If I'm not trying to make adjustments on my website, keep the wedding blog up to date, reply to emails and keep the Facebook page maintained, then I'm spending 30-50% of my day editing photographs. I spend an AWFUL lot of time on the computer and the truth is, I hate computers and associate them with only productivity and functionality - not leisure.
This means, that beyond working on my business (Which I quite enjoy at times) I really don't want to spend any more time sat at the Macbook. I already feel guilty enough staring at the screen while it's dry and adventurable outdoors, that when I'm finished with my to-do list for the day, I can't bring myself to stay sat down any longer. I truly begrudge spending time on social media (except for Instagram, although that's more of a phone-camera-instant-share-thing) and I have this enormous sense of guilt and self loathing for hanging around on the internet. 
So when I tell myself "today I'm going to make an effort and attend that twitter chat!" but there's a cracking sunset outside, I find myself putting down the iPad and heading outdoors with the thought in my head 'there's always another day'. There never is another day because the truth is, even when it's raining - I convince myself that I can be doing something than lazing around on the internet. 
(Sarah fully accepts that the internet contains a wealth of knowledge, entertainment, art, creativity and witty memes and yet she can not convince herself that not being in the fresh air is even an option





U N C O M F O R T A B L E 

Am I an introvert? Am I an extrovert? I'm not sure I even belong in either of these categories. The second truth of why I struggle with being online, is that it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Despite never having encountered a troll for myself (so far) and everyone seeming so lovely, supportive and kind, I find myself feeling so awkward and uncomfortable. Like I'm standing in a crowded room at a huge party where everyone knows each other, everyone has something to say and everyone is looking amazing and I'm just like "where do I fit in?" 
I don't lack self confidence and my anxieties are generally irrational and can't be attributed to the usual culprits of busy spaces, social expectations or high pressure. I don't find it difficult to talk to people in the real world, I am quite approachable and friendly and love to chat with new people. So why do I find it so hard online? I really don't know. I recognise that I do struggle with the barrier that is my screen and the web-sphere and that maybe it's the guilt of spending time online that disconnects me from the pleasure of connecting with online strangers, perhaps it's even the extremely fast pace at which twitter chats whizz by.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles to keep up with the #lbloggers chats, and I'm sure there are many out there that are much easier to find a place within them but I haven't yet managed to get to grips with twitter well enough to find my own place. The truth is, when it comes to things like twitter, I feel like an old technophobic lady who squints at the screen mouth slightly open, adjusts her glasses and types heavy fingered, one lonely key at a time. Sure, if I sat down and gave it some dedication and time, I'm sure I could learn to use it - but that's where the guilt thing comes in. 
So there it is, I just feel really awkward and out of place on the internet. Like someone with a phobia of deep water trying to hang out at a swimming pool. 
I'm an utterly awful blogger.
And yet, why do I do it? 














B e c a u s e ... 

I do it because I love the process in the making. I love taking photographs and I love to curate them into a little informal gallery. I love that I never apply pressure to myself regarding my blog, unlike my website and the things I share in order to promote by business...  Here, I can put up my duff photos that I love anyway, the goofy or slightly blurred shots of people and places I've enjoyed. I can write about why I love those people and places and create a scruffy but loved gallery, of the three things I adore most in all of the world: places, people and ideas
I love writing for the sake of writing, reading for the sake of reading and taking photos just because. That's why I put things here. Because I can. 

So here I am, putting postcards through the letterboxes of strangers. 

I am truly sorry that I am a terrible blogger, if you could even call me a blogger. Sure, I use a blog. But I use it to write, to put up photographs and memories. To the wonderful people who come to this space, I truly appreciate every single one of you. And I appreciate the silent people, who like me, come along, read silently and vanish quietly. I appreciate you very much. 
I'd like to consider myself a writer and photographer, if that doesn't sound too pretentious. There are bloggers who write and writers who blog. I guess I'm pretentious by default since I did a degree in writing. I'm sorry. I don't mean to be. I just really like it :) 









This August, I've been travelling quite a lot for work. I had a wedding in Kent to photograph and since we rarely go to the eastern parts of England, George and I thought it would be nice to visit the coast and drive through Brighton, taking the coast road home. We stopped off at Beachy Head near Eastbourne for a little rest before continuing the long drive. It truly is a beautiful spot, even with it's austere history. I loved the white cliffs, it's such a charming change from our dark and wuthered counterparts in Cornwall. These cliffs were so sheer and mighty and the colour of the stone against the sea was something else. The entire colour palette of this piece of coastline was just dreamy. 
I never did get to explore much of it because our time was short, so I must go back (perhaps when there are less tourists.) It's the sort of place I could sit in one of those fold-out chairs and read a book, watch the boats go by and stare at the sea for hours with a picnic on my lap. 








Thank you dear stranger. 
I hope I haven't offended anyone with my clumsy wording and inability to properly 'internet'. 
I do not dare to disregard anybodies hobbies or loves for this realm and admitting my detachment  from it, I don't in anyway disrespect it. It's just not a place I often come to, but then again I don't go to church either and I still greatly respect the faith of others. I hope you can forgive me for daring to keep a blog and simultaneously be a lousy blogger. 




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19 comments

  1. In my eyes you're the very best kind of blogger, I honestly wish there were more blogs like yours. It's such a joy, like peaking into someone's diary and with your beautiful photos it's actually like stepping into the pages. If this is being a bad blogger then I really hope you carry on being rubbish ;)

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    1. Thankyou Chloe <3 :3 I'll do my best ;) xxx

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  2. I think these feelings are more common amongst bloggers than you realise. I find it really difficult to stay present in the 'online community' and flit in and out, like you, writing my little posts and then turning away and forgetting about it. I don't think this makes you a bad blogger, it just makes you human. Your blog is beautiful and you should be extremely proud of it. I much prefer reading posts that are well written and beautifully displayed, every now and then, rather than posts which are so clearly published out of pressure. Keep on doing what you're doing, it's great! xx

    Abby | Eärendil

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    1. Thankyou Abby! The wonderful thing about personal blogs is the infinite freedom we have to create and share ^_^ xxx

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  3. You are the best kind of blogger. A person with real feelings, someone who is willing to get personal. In all honesty, I miss the days where blogs were little galleries and glimpses of someone's thoughts and ideas. I want to walk along the pages of someone else's book, and that is why I feel very much in love with your blog. Not everything has to have a perfect business model - the best things in life are imperfect.

    And I don't actually care for the Internet either, even though I blog and use Instagram religiously. I just have so many other things I want to do in a limited amount of time. Nothing will ever be wrong with that.

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    1. Thankyou Elizabeth :3 I love your description of blogs as the pages of somebody else's book. That's exactly the concept of blogs that I love and hold in my dreams. I feel like Instagram is a wonderful hybrid of real-life and virtual world, because you are out there, adventuring and taking photos and then sharing it instantly. It's a way of sharing virtually without sitting at home ^_^ It doesn't interfere with fun outdoor time :P xxx

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  4. Aw yay, I got a mention :) I too have struggled with commenting and being a part of the whole "blogger community" lately. Yours is one of the few blogs that I always feel a genuine wish to comment on, perhaps because there is something genuine and down-to-earth about it. I don't understand twitter chats, I can't spurn out a blog post a day, and I don't know how to/don't want to promote my blog on twitter 10 times a day. I have nothing against people who do, and I understand why some do it, but it's not for me. It's strange, because I do love the internet - I love instagram, twitter and blogs - but only to a certain extent. I love that I've got to know so many lovely people through blogging, but at the same time I struggle to keep constantly in the loop. Oh dear, I'm rambling and I don't even know what I'm saying. I definitely don't think you should see yourself as a bad blogger though, because you're not. You're doing what works for you, and that's wonderful. xxx

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  5. I feel honoured to have a little mention here :) (apologies if I'm being assumptive that the Anna is me hehe). I understand the conflicts of blogging but funnily enough I am the exact opposite of you! I spent my childhood online (half of it on Sims I must admit - loved that reference) and I spend my life on it now for leisure and work, but I always feel guilty that I should be outside living my life and exploring haha! Everyone has their struggles with this blogging phenomenon I'm sure, but I want to tell you that you shouldn't feel guilty because you bring your own unique you to blogging and your blog wouldn't be the beautiful place it is if it wasn't for your adventures and love of the outdoors. Stay you all the way! Xx

    Anna
    http://thecornishlife.co.uk

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  6. I'm definitely one of those silent readers that hardly comments on other people's blogs. I read lots of blogs, but find it really hard to engage and stay present in the blogging community. That's the difficulty about it isn't it? The fact that you go on adventures to have things to blog about, but at the same time you somehow need to be connected to bloggers and blogs too. It's bloody hard to find a balance in that. I do absolutely love your blog though and you certainly aren't a bad blogger. Xx Eline

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  7. I adore your blog- everything about it. It is so quintessentially YOU! I may not have met you, but when I see you've posted, I always feel excited. Because what you write is so sincere, so true, so beautiful and so aptly put, that it is a sheer pleasure. And you are SUCH an outdoors person that it is totally understandable. I think also, that your blogging, logging the outdoors beauty, when you actually do, is perhaps a sort of survival strategy for the winter months when it is so much harder perhaps. These dreams, these memories are here.x

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  8. I completely understand what you mean about finding it difficult to be part of the 'blogging community'. I feel so awkward every time I join in a twitter chat or just leaving comments on people posts. I'm trying to do it more often because I know it always makes me smile any time I get a comment but something about talking to someone you don't know personally through the screen like this always makes me feel very self conscious about whatever I'm saying! I don't think you should ever think of yourself as a bad blogger though. Your blog is one of my absolute favourites. I'm always excited whenever I see a new post from you in my bloglovin' feed!

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  9. :') yay I'm in your post! But you've said everything that I'm feeling about being on the internet, blogging, the community, everything! I feel the same way: I used to blog because I used to write a lot, and it was nice to write and write without thinking about 'oh am I getting good engagement'/'is this a good template'/'is this title SEO worthy' and it all gets a bit overwhelming to me that I too, run away to live in real life where I don't have to feel like everything must be perfect all the time. You're amazing though, I feel like, no matter how long in between your posts, your voice is still you and your stories are the stories we remember - and not just another 'here's what I wore today and what I drank' post floating around...

    And I completely relate to this: " I hate computers and associate them with only productivity and functionality - not leisure." To me, now, when I come home from work I'd just like to go for a walk, listen to the silence and not think about anything on the internet!

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  10. I have to say, I do adore your blog Sarah. I know I'm more of a recent visitor but I love your posts. You write beautifully and so eloquently and your photos are always so dreamy and pretty. Visiting your blog is like taking a miniature holiday via the internet, and it's lovely! I think in terms of the blogging community and blogging in general - it's all up to you, and you make it what it is. I rarely attend the chats on Twitter and I've yet to attend a blogging meet-up, but I don't think that makes someone a bad blogger in any sense of the word. It's a very wide umbrella term, as you mentioned and I honestly think that, if you're blogging, you're a blogger. I think there's a lot of pressure in society now to be a certain way but it's fine if you're not and all of the little quirks and traits that make up you are great and it's actually really great too that you spend more time outdoors than on the computer - it's much better for you I can attest to that! Never feel bad for feeling something or being yourself, and though I know it's easier said than done, try not to let the pull of other people or things make you feel anxious for spending time doing what you truly love. When I was working I barely had any time to post comments or join in with Follow Friday and sometimes real life gets in the way of the blogging world, so just enjoy yourself, and remember that we all love your posts! And I'm sorry this is so long! :D - Tasha

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  11. I've told you this on instagram, but I love blogs like yours. Blogs and photos that actually inspire me and make me want to travel the places you've mentioned...so much so, we booked our first holiday to Cornwall this year and had the best time! {I keep falling in and out of love with my blog, I hear exactly what you are saying here too}.

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  12. Okay, first things first, what bloody beautiful photos! Second things second (?), I absolutely adore blogs like yours. In my opinion, all blogs should strive to have your kind of content- inspirational, wanderlusty and yet totally real and relatable. It's so easy to get caught up in the distractions of the blogging community online and totally ignore what it is that you really set out to do with your work in the first place... to the point where all blogs become slightly anodyne and (I hate to say it but) indistinguishable from one another. I applaud you for sticking to your guns and just being yourself- never feel bad about that :) Sian x

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  13. In the past 5 years or so, there's become this 'blogger elite club' which I believe has been fuelled by the likes of PR, blogger outreach, competition and awards. I think we all feel like this. I know I feel like this if I don't blog regularly but then it's my day time profession, so my personal blog can feel somewhat a chore and I really dislike feeling like that. I am trying to get my love back for my own blogging and I do that by reading others like yourself who inspired me in so many ways on that basis, I hardly think you come close to a bad blogger. I am constantly reminding myself that I blog because in 90 years time when 'the blog' is looked upon like we do a 'vinly, I want to have a clear snapshot of what I did with my life! And If I pick some readers up along the way, then that's lovely, and I hope to meet and learn more about these people through their own diaries. Your type of blog is really rare. You've got a wonderful lifestyle which weaves itself exceptionally even through you occasional PR (ish ) type posts. Keep doing you. It's good enough! :)

    Loving Life in Wellies Blog
    xxxx

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  14. Oh no, you mustn't apologise, for you're not a bad blogger at all - in fact, you're one of my favourites, and reading your blog always puts a smile on my face. I also struggle taking part in the blogging community; I hardly comment, I don't think I've ever taken part in a Twitter chat, and I probably don't read as many blogs as I should. But blogging is personal, and I love how you describe it as sending postcards to strangers. Reading your posts, with their beautiful photographs and beautiful words, is such a delight, and is ever so inspiring, too. So thank you, for this post and the ones to come :)
    I hope that you're having a lovely day,
    Ellie (thestorybookgirl.com) x

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  15. Being one of the (and your) silent readers, I appreciate you too Sarah :)

    Big hug,
    Eirini (or Irene)

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  16. I could not respect you more for this! I think this incredibly refreshing. The community is always here when you want to engage but you certainly don't have to. You have a wonderful way with words and your photos show such a beautiful outlook on your life. Everything about blogging is a personal journey and I think think it's completely fine that you blog however fullfills you the most :)

    I've fallen in love with this little space on the internet and look forward to catching your next post (at any time!).

    I hope you're having a wonderful day!

    Best,
    Karissa
    www.rissieblog.com

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