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.