Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sept. 21: Changed forever by blogging?

Blogging challenge for today: Discuss the ways that blogging or social media have changed you.

I started blogging as a way to record a few things specific to me: recipes and gratitude. Back in the day (2008), the blog tagline reflected that: A little food, a little gratitude. Jen served as inspiration--she'd been blogging for nearly a decade by then. My brother has also blogged off and on over the past few years, and he helped me through some early technical snafus.

While I wouldn't call this blog an online journal--I would be more transparent there--I do share what's going on in my life. I'm very sensitive to husband's privacy, and Seth's too, to a lesser degree--he used to like being featured, now he's neither here nor there about it; Mom blogs? Whatevs.

What I am mostly conscious of, and pay the most attention to in my tone, is presenting a "la la" view of the world. I mean, hello?! The blog name is Sweet Tea & Sunshine. If I could tell you how many times in the past five years a girlfriend has sweetly but mockingly said, "Well, yeah, Sher, but you ARE Sweet Tea and Sunshine." I get that. In many ways, the blog name is a nod to an almost-45-year history of my sunny disposition. Thankfully, though, I long ago gave up thinking that I had to choose between being my sunny, optimistic self AND being a "serious thinker." Who knew? You can be both?! Awesome.

But, as is often the case, the sunny comes out first and is much more marketable--does anyone really want to know when I'm feeling down or crabby or had an argument with my son or husband, or what I'm pondering about gun control or health care or...? It is certainly not my first inclination to share that line of thought in this venue--or anywhere, really. So I'm cognizant of that--that I'm sharing mostly the pretty and yummy. I know bloggers who do a great job with relaying their trials and tribulations, their highs and lows, their bitchy days as well as their happy days. Whenever I have tiptoed out there, it just feels inauthentic. It may be a muscle I flex at some other time, in some other setting, but for right now blogging about what inspires me is what makes the most sense, to me.

One of the best parts of blogging, and social media in general, are the connections. I have "met" bloggers that I would never meet otherwise--Janet and Chel both come quickly to mind, and Lisa has become an IRL friend too, having met initially through our blogs.

As for Facebook, there are countless examples of people who have come back into my life that make me smile (and Jen is one of them). Just when I think I couldn't possibly dig up a past connection, another one finds me, and I'm blessed for that. (Famous last words, I know. Knock on wood.) And for those who I see regularly, Facebook still provides a keep-in-touch aspect to our busy lives, little windows into what's happening even just three pastures over, or across town as kids grow up and people change jobs.

I am occasionally annoyed by Facebook, by the changes that don't allow me to see updates from those that I really want to see, or by posts that irritate me. But I remind myself that I can easily just turn it off, and having a busy work life certainly keeps it to a lower level of interaction than it used to be when I was home during the day and more easily distracted.

Twitter is Twitter. I like it well enough, but am not ambitious enough to actually USE it to an end. I continue to see it as a wave to be ridden, coasting along on top of a massive swell of information. Dipping into it on occasion has worked well for me, and I understand that some people really appreciate the pithy microblogging platform. For me, it's a side dish, hardly the main entree. (Let's see how many different metaphors I can stuff into a paragraph, eh?)

Pinterest is a joy, pure and simple. It's social enough, with existing friends, but not a place to meet people (in my experience). I will follow anyone who shares my interests, but striking up a conversation is a whole other ballgame. I just pin, and am content with that.

Instagram is my newest joy, and I've really enjoyed playing around there the past year or so. I have met people there in a way that Pinterest doesn't facilitate--commenting on someone's picture is a much more common experience than with Pinterest, and getting followed back is natural, and conversation just comes from that. There are amazing photographers on Instagram, of which I am not one. I just love to document various aspects of life, and then share the images elsewhere--Facebook, Twitter and the blog. (And I love to see what my niece Maizy is up to too!)

What am I missing? Foursquare? No thanks. Snapchat? Not for my generation. Vine? Not for my attention span. What else? Who knows. I'm sure something new is being invented even as I type.

Connections. Sharing. Being shared with. It's (generally) all good.

Or, we can hear what Louis C.K. has to say about things in this vein... which is worth a listen. (It's mostly about texting, but you know that half of the people he's talking about texting and driving are really Facebooking and driving. Or tweeting and driving. Or Instagramming... You get it.)

How do you feel about social media/blogging? Any changes to your life because of it?

Jen and I (and now my mom and Lisa too!) are blog challenging throughout September. You can catch her blog over at Stuff Jen Says. If you want to write along with us, give me a shout and I'll send you the blog prompts.


  1. You are a great example with your sweet spirit. Thank you. In fact, I would say you are an inspiration.

  2. I want to be your IRL friend. Someone needs to invent teleportation so you and I can meet for regular cups of tea.

    I love that little bit with Louis CK, especially the part about just feeling the feeling and then feeling good because you felt it. And the part about sending out a message to 50 people just to get a response. That resonated. I'm torn on technology with Gracie. She's very interested in documenting her life and my life, and that's incredible and I know it's an amazing habit for her to have. But then there's privacy issues and the fact that little kids DO get distracted, so letting her have our old iPhone to snap photos and tap notes as she's going about her day (only when we are home) inevitably turns into her playing a game. I'm actually thinking about disabling all the other apps on the phone and getting her a small, inexpensive photo printer for Christmas so she can take and print photos and then document things on paper with the photos. I dunno. It's a whole different ball game than it used to be...

    1. I want to be your IRL friend too, Chel! I don't give up hope that someday I will make it to Florida and we'll meet up for tea, definitely.

      Kids and social media can be a little scary. I've been blessed to watch Seth toe-dip into it and not get too carried away (yet). Might be a boy/girl difference--he has a friend (girl) who is also a friend of mine, and watching her can be illuminating. Much more open about what she's thinking/feeling. I'm sure Gracie will figure it out, and you'll help her along the way.


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