I originally planned on calling this post “To blog, or not to blog”. Yes I know, contrived. The whole purpose of the post was to ask what inspires us to blog in the first place? What is our ‘motive’ so to speak. I wanted to touch upon what we avoided blogging too; what topics and ideas were off limits and why?
I have only just recently entered the social media sphere myself. I joined Facebook, Twitter and of course, WordPress approximately two months ago now. As I continued to post, tweet and blog on all these sites the questions I wanted to ask kept coming back to me, because I was and still am sussing out what the heck I’ve gotten myself into. There are several reasons why I left joining the online world for as long as I did. Firstly I consider myself something of a privacy freak! Another I had no real reason or desire to create a blog, or so I believed, and thirdly I wasn’t really sure how to go about doing it. It all seemed so… difficult, then dangerous. We’ve all heard about the horrors of trolling, online bullying, and other forms of celebratory depraved abuse, often sexualised and violent, all available for your instant gratification. At one end school kids and exes attacking and dehumanising for kicks, the other IS beheading journalists and aid workers. For someone on the outside looking in, it can all seem way too much to handle.
Anyhoo, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My reasons for creating this blog were not entirely lacking an ulterior motive. I am a bit of a chameleon or ditz, take your pick: Once an administrative assistant, then librarian before re-entering education to grabble with creative writing as it had dawned on me since my childhood I’ve been telling stories to my toys, myself, my pet cat, and my friends before doing a one eighty and retraining to become chef because the idea of forever struggling to get published was unbearable and with no librarian work forthcoming… you get the idea, I panicked. With the radical changes that have occurred in the last four years alone I realised its possible to develop and achieve a career in writing without going through the middle man. Whoo-hoo! And that ladies and gentlemen is why I decided to begin writing a blog. This wasn’t the sole reason or purpose through. Between a friend wanting to keep in touch and me wanting to share what I have learnt, I finally decided I had no excuses left and took the plunge!
However, not all has been plain sailing…. It was the accidental creation of a maelstrom for myself that lead to this post changing direction.
Very recently while on twitter I engage in a conversation with a Buzzfeed reporter about some ISIS terrorist. Nothing too intense, just the possible birth origins of the IS member. I concluded she was British born and shared as much. What disturbed me came later, twelve hours to be exact. I noticed that I had been contacted vis à vis my tweets with a question pertaining a statement I had made, while another had been replied to with a LOL. The individuals who contacted me were obvious fans of the IS terrorist and had been following the tweeting between the reporter and myself.
As my blood ran cold, my feeling of being exposed left me deeply disturbed. I swore off social media for good, but only stayed away for a good twenty-four hours. Although the question was by no means menacing, it was the idea of being associated with individuals who propagate messages that are anathema to me that was problematic. In the real world I would never knowingly associate, remain friends or acquainted with persons who believed in such corrupt ugly beliefs. While there are situations in which you can and do come into contact with such people, like work or your oh so friendly psychotic neighbours. And God help you should this happen, even though there are means of tackling these problems, it can be a battle just getting acknowledged let alone taken seriously, and depending on where you live, the authorities’ response will vary. Keeping in mind the levels of open corruption being perpetrated in the United Kingdom (I kid you not) I will never expect concern from the British law enforcement agencies and little if no action, ever (Ann Cryer, anyone?).
If I am frank, the notion of sharing this post still unsettles me. But I think it’s a matter that needs out attention. I would never claim the responses to my tweets are trolling or even bullying, but my real life experiences have taught me to recognise when someone is on a fishing exhibition; seeking to pull others into a tangled web of games, often more vindictive and aggressive than those being baited realise until its too late. These individuals are not troubled or victims. They are in fact predators seeking prey. Do not fall into their trap, but don’t be too hard on yourself if when you ignored them, they still came after you.
I still consider the venture into social media something of a risk, but one I am increasingly growing confident in. The question of how much to share still arises, as it must with all bloggers and other social media users. The only advice I can give is, be brave and go ahead, join WordPress or some other blogging platform and share what you feel is important, necessary or just down right fun. But please do not forget to be careful as there are people out there who will take great pleasure in engaging with you in a way you may never have envisaged. Good luck, and may you surprise yourself and others by giving something enlightening or empowering to others.