Monday, December 17, 2012

1 Looking Back to Look Forward: A Really Honest Post, Part 1


Occasionally, this blog gets personal. A lot of times it's introspective. And over the years, it's changed a lot. Maybe that's because I've changed a lot right along with it. It's also morphed back and forth in terms of its primary purpose. It started as a personal log of my journey to get back to running and ultimately train for a marathon, but then later changed into a primarily informational blog, which, not so coincidentally, happened around the same time I began coaching. And now, it seems to have become more of a hybrid of both.

One of the reasons that this happened has to do with the changes in the blogging world itself, and my level of comfort with these changes. First, we started out as a relatively small community of blogging runners. (To clarify, this was back in 2007.) In my particular circle of blogging runners, we used to frequently comment on each other's walls, and it didn't take long before those comments turned into extended conversations. It was only until later that most of that conversation moved onto Twitter. Bonds of friendship formed and most of us still keep in touch. In fact, almost all of the people from that core group are Facebook friends with each other as well.

Then, the social media microcosm grew, and suddenly our cozy little community of blogging and tweeting runners wasn't so small anymore. By this time, more and more people started blogging and also paying attention to blogs as a whole. And along with that expanded consciousness of blogging came more visibility for our blogs and related endeavors. More people had begun to find out about our blogs and pay attention to what I and other runner friends were writing. It was surreal. You would think that most bloggers would look upon this as a good development, because it would mean more recognition and visibility for their blogs. However, in truth, it's a mixed bag. Sure, the attention can feel great, but at times it can also be a bit overwhelming, weighty, and uncomfortable too. My blog had started out as a place where like-minded runners could converse with each other -- we already understood each other and more or less had a shared frame of reference -- but when the blogging world expanded and others began visiting my blog, that began to change as well. There were times during that period when I felt like my message was being completely misunderstood and honestly, it was very frustrating to have to continually clarify what I'd meant, whereas I hadn't had to do that much before.

I honestly didn't know how to react to all of the above-mentioned changes, and wasn't alone in that regard either. Many of us had mixed feelings about how visible we'd suddenly become, particularly in the context of the rapid evolution of not just blogging, but all of social media. This wasn't uncommon. Would we evolve along with these changes? How would our protected, tightly knit, and now, ever-expanding, community of blogging runners fair? Would we shine in the spotlight or cocoon? Would we still have the time to stay connected with each other, especially now that there were so many different social media channels in which to participate? It was a bit overwhelming and there was a sense that a person could get lost (or perhaps even submerged) by it all. Then, blogging gradually began to fade into the background a bit, due to its competition with so many other, new and emerging forms of social media.

And then something weird happened: we'd all started off as "regular people," but then some of our blogger friends' public profiles began to expand and loom large. And then other people's perceptions of us also began to change. Had some of us become truly a larger-than-life presence on the internet or was that just a delusion invented by other people?! I remember a few people saying to me, "Wow, you're almost famous now," to which I had to laugh. It sure didn't feel that way; I'm just a regular person, so why were some of my IRL and online friends saying otherwise? Is that really how they saw me now?! It felt absurd and ridiculous. Internet "rockstar" status seems like such a silly concept, an artifice really, not to mention that this title seems like it should really be reserved for people whose blogs actually have a zillion followers and then graduate to network TV. ;) Given how I feel about celebrity and its effects upon those who "rise to the top," I wasn't about to fall into the trap of thinking that I'd somehow become famous, nor would I be following up that act by allowing myself to pulled into a self-delusional vortex of idiotic and egotistical behavior that often goes along with it. ;) And even for those people who are famous, why do we as a society attach so much significance to it?! I don't care how famous people are or have become; they are just human beings like the rest of us. Furthermore, no matter what people's perceptions might be, humility, above all, is a quality that keeps us real and connected. And if I ever did become truly "famous," I'm very happy that I have friends who would still think of me in the same way and also give me the ego check I'd so richly deserve should things ever get out of hand. ;) The bottom line is that your contributions to society matter more than how other people perceive you.

I will say this: As a general rule, we runners tend to be a humble lot, even the famous ones. In fact, even though many in our small circle of blogging runner friends have now gone on to become prominent and well-respected voices/presences in the running community -- for example, Steve Speirs, Blaine Moore, Jenn Gill, and Tim Wilson, to name just a few -- they are all still humble, decent people who have kept the core of who they are intact.

(To be continued.....)

1 comment:

CewTwo said...

I think it is funny. There were many, many blogs.

Based on what you speak of, I think of the offers that I received. I received offers of shoes, apparel and supplements. I talked to the potential 'sponsors,' but I want my voice and did not want to align myself with any group.

What really got me with your discussion, is that many of the people I interfaced with on Facebook I knew already through their blogs.

I've pretty much given up on Facebook now (as I find it to be mostly a waste of time - Except when in conversation with you, of course).

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