Blogging for 2016

Yule is over, and it’s a new year, making this a natural time to rethink certain things in my life and make sure I’m on the right track, and if not, make course adjustments.

That includes this blog. I’m still not sure if starting it at all was a good idea or just a big waste of time. Sometimes it seems like the “pagan blogosphere” mostly distracts me from what’s really important and upsets me unnecessarily.

I’m not the first one to bring up how the Pagan Internet has a problem with drama, some have even called it toxic, but I would like to remind people that it’s not really a pagan thing, it’s an internet thing. I’ve been socializing on the internet for 20 years. I started with Usenet newsgroups when I was 15. Trust me, it’s always been like this, and it doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. It can be paganism, organic gardening, or Doctor Who fandom, all of them have flame wars and drama and people blowing things out of proportion. Humans just aren’t good at communicating this way. It doesn’t come naturally to us to communicate completely through text with no tone of voice or facial expressions to clarify what we mean and remind each other that we’re all human beings here.

It does worry me a little bit that so much of pagan discourse is on the internet instead of face to face, when it’s clear that internet communication has these problems. The internet can allow us to communicate with pagans from different states or even different countries, but also allows us to get into flame wars with them. Is that worth it? I’m still not sure. Maybe we’d get along better if we were talking with each other in person instead of typing on the internet. We’re trying to build traditions that will last for generations here (or at least that’s my goal), and I’m just not sure if the internet is the best place to do that.

Anyway, people complain from time to time that when they write a blog post about something they think is really interesting, it gets no views or comments, and the only way they can get any attention is by writing about the controversy of the week. I’ve noticed that too. The solution proposed is usually to quit taking the bait, and just write about what they think is interesting and not care if anyone reads it or comments. I also realize that is much easier said than done. But maybe it is beneficial to periodically rethink why you’re writing a blog in the first place and try to refocus on that.

I half-write a lot of blog posts that I eventually end up deleting. I think it’s a good general practice to write a blog post on Word first, then save it and don’t post right away until I’ve thought about it some more. That way is much more time consuming though, so I get a lot less posted. I just hope it raises the quality of what I do post. I’m not doing that with this post, so maybe that’s a mistake. I think some bloggers post in a more knee-jerk fashion all the time, and that might perpetuate the flame wars a bit more.

I do post comments on other people’s blogs right away, and sometimes I regret that. Yesterday I posted a bunch of comments on John Beckett’s article about “Adulting” that I probably shouldn’t have. That’s a touchy subject for me. Wasted a lot of time and mental energy on that one yesterday. I usually just lurk on Patheos, and that was probably a good policy. I comment on WordPress more, but I still wonder if I’m bothering people when I do that.

But what should I be writing about? WordPress sent me that Year in Blogging thing they do. I was surprised that my most viewed post of 2015 was the one about the show River Monsters. Do people want me to write more about TV shows? Writing about stuff like that probably attracts a broader variety of people.

People are still reading my post about Texas Mountain Laurel, which is one of the first posts I ever did. I intended to write a lot more posts like that when I started this blog. I wanted to talk about local plants and animals and sacred sites and seasonal changes, since pagans are always so focused on far away places and ancient times instead of the here and now. But I got distracted by what everyone else was talking about. Plants and animals is what I know about though, not hard polytheism vs. soft polytheism, or lore vs. UPG, or folkism vs. universalism or any of that crap. That’s just not my area of expertise.

And it’s the same stuff people were arguing about on the pagan internet ten years ago. Yeah, now they say it’s monist vs. polytheist instead of Wiccan vs. Reconstructionist, but it looks like the same old thing to me. I don’t think things would seem this black and white if it wasn’t on the internet. I think the internet tends to polarize things. Again, I’ve seen this in every internet forum or community I’ve been in. Are you a John Lennon or a Paul McCartney fan? Which is better, classic Doctor Who or the new series? You must choose one side or the other and the other side is completely wrong!

(Oh, and don’t even get me started on bringing up any type of political issue online! I need to stay away from those kinds of “discussions” too, though those mostly show up on my Facebook, not on blogs.)

Religion, like politics, is a touchy subject for people. It gets down to our core beliefs about the Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I really doubt the internet is the best place for these types of discussions, but for some of us, that’s all we have. Maybe if we change our approach it can be a more positive experience, but I have no idea how to do that.

Over Yule I had a big crisis of faith/dark night of the soul type experience. And Yule is supposed to be fun, right? Humph! I thought about writing about it on here, but now I think I’m going to hold off on that. Just remember that pretty soon we’re all going to be dead, and there’s no evidence I’ve ever seen that anything comes after that. Oh sure, I might live another 30 or 40 years, but that’s like nothing in the grand scheme of things. How are you using the time you have? Is what you’re doing right now really the best thing you could be doing right now? If it’s internet drama, probably not.

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Blogging for 2016

  1. I like the questions and input you’ve given into my posts, at the least. On more than one occasion you have pushed me to consider a position or to go back and think about one I thought I had settled.

    You really hit the nail on the head here:
    “We’re trying to build traditions that will last for generations here (or at least that’s my goal), and I’m just not sure if the internet is the best place to do that.”

    You’re right. For me, writing online is a place to get my thoughts out there, get others’ perspective, and share my own. Some of my posts go through only one or two revisions, but my bigger pieces have gone through upwards of 34, and I still have about 90 posts in my Draft folder. So while I have had posts that get plenty of hits despite being written a year to a half year ago, that’s not my point when I write. I guess my point is, that I hope you don’t feel alone, and that while I may not comment on every post, I appreciate what you write.

  2. You just described why I don’t like blogging. Freyja gets angry with me, why am I.letting other people’s dramas affect my writing? Well, multimedia is what I was supposed to do.

    I call cyberspace a bad neighborhood. It also steals time from DOING.

    I’m just relieved you say this. Internet community is an oxymoron. It’s the height of narcissism.

    • I think it can have its uses, but only because so many pagans/heathens/polytheists are solitary and can’t find good local communities. It’s a poor substitute for a real face-to-face community, but maybe it’s better than nothing?

      Though since it can steal time from doing, as you say, sometimes I wonder if it’s still not worth it. Maybe bad community is worse than no community at all.

      I just really don’t know. It doesn’t seem to bother some people, and maybe the rest of us can eventually figure out how to do it in a healthy way.

      • I think staying true our own voices and not being sucked intothe latest version of the 1970s Witch Wars helps.

  3. Like Sarenth, I feel that you have great value in your words, and I have always enjoyed reading what you had to say, either post-wise or comment-wise. I approach blogging by writing about what I want to write about, do my best to interact in a way that interests me and that people can find value. But if they do not, then they do not, and I do not mind. Because I’m trained as a Historian (I recently got my MA), and because cultural development and social attitudes interest me, that’s what I focus on. Things I can do on my own, research I can do on my own, to help pass the time while keeping my skills sharp.

    Which includes a lot of revision in Open Office, just like you.

    I’m deep in the fight against atheopaganism and on a personal crusade against the terms “soft” and “hard” polytheism, but other than that I really try to eschew myself from a lot of the drama. As much as I can without it finding me, given my association and employment with Heathen Talk Podcast (and it collects, believe me).

    But, like your River Monsters post, my best post of all time is the Woden vs. Odin article I wrote. And that was by far less “educational” than some of my personal favorites (“Paganism and Pseudoscholarship”, “A Heathens Concern for Germania”, etc). It’s been shared the most around Social Media, it is by far my most viewed post ever, and every day it has the most views (even if it is something like 22 out of 35 views of the day).

    I think your posts focusing on your local experiences are far more accessible and interesting than yet another voice in a debate that’s raging around the Pagan or Heathen blogosphere, and that is not to say that your own views on [big drama of the week] aren’t interesting. But there only so many opinions before it turns into an echo-chamber. I’d much rather read about your approaches to Heathenry in Texas, local interactions with the wihta and spirits, and the establishment of your particular regional variation of Heathenry (I really liked your Planting Heathenry in Texas Soil post!).

    I envy the people who can manage a number of posting sites. I’m affiliated with mine, the HT blog, the Roman Revivalism blog, and the Larhus, and I’m like..struggling to even keep up with one. So maybe taking a step back is a good thing?

    Keep writing though! I’d hate to lose your voice. Just write at your own pace.

  4. One of the things I like best about your blog is how level-headed you come across. It’s refreshing. I also like your posts about how you incorporate your home region and your Heathenry- we’re on different tracks, religiously speaking, but I think it’s really interesting! Just keep on being you, you seem like a pretty neat person all around. : )

  5. I’ve just read through your blog. Each and every word of every post up through January. I did it in two days. How many blogs can pull me in like that? Very few. You have an important and unique voice in Heathenry. I love your discussion of holidays and relationships with the Gods. I like that you’re honest about your ancestry and the struggles it brings to honoring the lot. Sarah Ann Lawless was recently on Rune Soup’s new podcast with Gordon. They got on that topic and laughingly called it the struggle of dealing with “Cunts three generations back.” That seems to be your wall to climb. I would love to know more about how you tackle it. I suggest you have a look and listen at skeptiko.com. There’s more evidence for what happens when the meat suit falls than you may realize. Worth rolling around your brilliant mind. As for the dark night, we all have one or more. It’s normal. Come through it with your eyes open and wisdom shall be gained. Have you joined ADF yet? I truly believe you’ll love it, and really like the Dedicant Program.

    Finally, it has been an honor to read your thoughts. I do hope you continue. It’s never a waste of time. I have my tarot and magic based blog at tarotheathen.com. I also maintain my very inconsistent writing on a blog for anyone needing a light in the dark. That is tribeawakened.com. I get a lot of visitors every month on my old posts. Once in a while I get an email that thanks me. Very rarely I get one that says I saved their life. I’ll keep that site running until the internet dies. I hope you do the same here. I red a lot of blogs. Your blog is special.

  6. Even though I am new to reading your blog, I really enjoy your perspective and want to read more. Your posts about plants and sacred places are a great read for me since I’m also a Texas native. I would love to learn more about your experience with the gods being from Texas.

  7. I’m not a big follower of Pagan bloggers of any sort. I don’t really like all the controversy, don’t care if I’m not up on the latest bit of furor, and avoid getting into any of it on my own blog, which started as a gentle sort of PR for my novels, but find I enjoy in its own right. I always was a journaller anyway, now I can just do it with more photos. I actually like to follow sheep bloggers best, even though I don’t currently own any sheep. Go figure. 🙂 I did recently find your blog, though, and have bookmarked it for further reading. I like how you think. Keep blogging!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s