If you are one of the 10 people who read this blog regularly, you probably noticed the lack of updates for the past 5 months. I could come up with many logical reasons for my absence that are all true, like… that I have been busy, I wanted to focus on studying for the JLPT, and I was trying to make a decision about my contract next year. However, if I am being honest with you, the real reason is that I wanted to quit blogging.
The falseness of our online lives has been heavy on my heart lately and I couldn’t help but wonder why I was putting so much effort into blogging. Originally, it was a way to scrapbook my experience and have a creative outlet. When I paused and looked at it a few months back I couldn’t help thinking it looked like a shrine to myself and my experiences. I just don’t want to be a person who puts that much effort into proclaiming “the uniqueness” of myself.
I started asking myself questions like, “Why do I have a blog?”, and “Is what I am writing about having a positive impact on the people who read it or a negative one?”
I know that, by nature, blogs are personal things and the best blogs are usually very personal. That is what differentiates blogs from other types of websites and writing. The blogs I like to read regularly, always give a sense of the personality of the writer. I continue to read them because I feel connected with the writer, like we have a real friendship.
Blogs are also businesses for many people. You put your opinion and experience online and try to make it attractive so people will read it. If people are reading, you have an audience. An audience means you have influence and influence is money. The more hits and shares the more money you make!
If life isn’t going well or you get into a funk and it affects your writing, business goes bad. There must be a temptation for bloggers to continue their online life undisrupted and separate from the reality of their real life. Their online life and voice is, after all, their income! Is the duality a healthy thing or an unhealthy thing?
For the blogger, it might help keep their lives sane and manageable. Having a fake pen name or online persona for writing may help them keep their privacy.
For readers, however, it can cause them to compare their own lives with the seemingly constant happiness and good fortune of their “blogger friend’s” online and perfected persona. This, of course, is the same problem that occurs when scrolling through Instagram and Facebook too often.
Before I give you the wrong impression, let me clear this up. I make nothing from my blog. I only talk about the business of blogging because I’m aware that blogging has become an industry. While I am not pursuing a career as a full-time blogger or trying to make money from my blog, I am aware that it could become supplemental income one day in the future. This sort or business or money feels a little strange. Why should I get paid to write about my life and opinions? My opinions hold no more value than anyone else’s. This is a slippery slope that I’m not sure I want to have to battle.
Recently, I was talking with one of the new ALTs in Fukui about my conflicted feelings towards my blog when he responded with a nice story. He said that after he found out he would be coming to Fukui in April the previous year, he goggled like crazy and stumbled across my blog. He said that he read all of my posts and was able to get excited about where he would be living next year. He said it gave him something to look forward to. Before that conversation, I had no idea that he even knew I had a blog! (He even told me specific posts he remembered, “Didn’t you get stuck in an airport once?”)
Another friend was recently on Pinterest searching for places to travel during spring break and wanted more information about Kamikochi. She said she ended up scrolling through a blog post looking at pictures and deciding it was a good place for herself and her friend. At the end of the post, she realized that she had been reading my blog accidentally. The post about Kamikochi had helped her make a decision that it was a place she was interested in.
I also use blogs this way when planning trips and find them so helpful! I am happy if my experience can help someone else get more out of their time in Japan or more out of their experience with their students.
I guess I should end this post by saying that these 2 experiences have motivated me to get back into the blogging world.
I do not want this blog to be a shrine to my life or to be about me at all. Of course, it will be personal and have my thoughts and opinions. That’s what a blog is. However, it will be about Japan. It will be about travel. It will be about lessons and teaching. It will be for a purpose other than myself. Something that is becoming harder and harder to do in this selfie-crazed social media world.
Here’s to the next era of posts. Cheers readers.