Tag Archives: blogs

TMI?

Plenty of people who know me know I spend a lot of time on facebook – I love catching up with people, seeing what’s going on in their lives, reconnecting with people, sharing joys and sorrows, and all the rest of it. In particular I just find it so convenient – the fact is, however much I’d like to I’m just not going to be able to individually email/skype/phone/write to a 3 figure number of people very regularly, and it is just going to be a superficial Christmas and birthdays type arrangement in most cases, if that, whereas on facebook there are lots of my family and friends in the same place and I can catch up with lots of them in a relatively short space of time. With friends all over the world this has been an enormous blessing – I signed up for facebook when I was on my PhD fieldwork and found it invaluable in feeling still ‘plugged in’ to life back home and connected to my loved ones, plus it was handy for them to see that I was OK and having adventures and all the rest of it.

More recently, I’ve come across a few debates (on and off facebook) on over-sharing, particularly around pregnancy and birth. I suppose this is the next stage in the debate after thinking about over-sharing in a blog (one of the many reasons I’m enjoying the Project365 thing, as well as the opportunity to be creative and think of fun things to do and places to go is that I can blog regularly but quite superficially, which suits me for now – next year I’ll try to get round to writing a bit more substantially again). But even with my superficial blogging this year, following a chat with HD I did take down one photo which he (and, actually on reflection, I) found crossed the too-personal line (no I’m not going to discuss which one!). I think with social media, particularly a blog like this which I’ve done for years or facebook which I’ve also been on for 4 years and am very familiar with, it is easy to drop your guard and over-disclose without thinking of the consequences for yourself or others.

I have noticed a number of friends on facebook posting lots of baby photos, ultrasound pictures etc, and I am genuinely happy for them. But I do sometimes feel vaguely uncomfortable, not particularly on my behalf, but thinking about the impact this might have on other people who might be struggling with their less than perfect family life or other issues. I also wonder about how the child might feel about their picture being on the internet (more than one family I know, the kids love having their pictures up online so I’m not going to get all preachy about it, but in some cases I wonder if a line is being stepped over). There are a few blogs I read by parents which are all about their experiences as parents, so obviously the kids play a big part in that blog, and they are so well done that I can imagine the kids can look back on those blogs when they’re older and really know how proud of them their folks were. But I don’t know if I could do that.

This weekend I came across an article on the blog Feministing about so-called ‘Social Media Pregnancies’. This is coming from a staunchly pro-choice perspective and I think makes some interesting points (they also link to an article in the Washington Post which reckons that by the age of 2, 92% of American children have an online presence which I am both shocked and unsurprised by); it is also I think unfortunately rather strident and the arguments about ‘fetal personhood’ and women’s bodies as mere vessels are a bit unfortunate (this is something which is picked up on in the very interesting comments thread which follows). I think the stuff about the ritual of posting and sharing photos on sites like facebook is really interesting though and I would love to read some decent research about this.

And then today my friend blogs on exactly this subject and is so much more eloquent and gracious than me about it (don’t you just hate it when that happens? 😉 I should have just linked to her post and saved myself all this time). I love her take on thinking about how her life could be something that friends taken up with nothing but their young babies get jealous about, and which they could indeed be upset or jealous about. I don’t think we can self-censor to the extreme – whatever I post could potentially upset someone, so I have to be realistic and trust my friends to take anything I post in the spirit in which it’s meant. And it’s down to me to extend them the same courtesy (and if all else fails, the scroll feature is a wonderful thing).

Stuff I’ve found recently

One of the things I love about being on Twitter is that I find links to all sorts of different websites that I’d never have found otherwise. The internet really is brilliant! (although I really do need to take to heart the quote I saw on Twitter the other day which was so true I laughed (from @AdviceToWriters): “Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet.” Anonymous (via @Quotes4Writers)).

Anyway. I’ve really enjoyed this evening reading the back posts of a blog someone on my Twitter feed linked to called the Seventeen Magazine Project, where an American teenager tried to spend a month living just according to the tips and underlying ethos of Seventeen Magazine. Most particularly I enjoyed her response to the experience, which was to start a photo project inviting submissions to finish the statement “Hey Mainstream Media! I am …”. She explains the project here and you can find submissions on more recent blogposts and at the flickr pool here.

I was also interested to read a post, also linked by someone I follow on Twitter, talking about whether parents (well, specifically mothers) should blog about their children. The post is here with a link to the blog post which prompted it. I think the specifically mothers bit is because there seems to be a “mommy/mummy blogger” phenomenon which is rather popular – having participated in the Gallery photography project a few times I’m aware of a number of those participants who blog mainly as “mummy bloggers” – rather than because it’s having a go at mothers in particular. I should say here that in principle I don’t particularly have a problem with the phenomenon, and some blogs are beautifully written, so I don’t intend to criticise anyone for blogging about their children – particularly as someone who doesn’t have children myself. But it is definitely food for thought and something I may blog more on later (see below).

At some point I intend to blog about why I blog (at all), as it’s a subject I find really interesting from other people’s perspectives and I’m finding all sorts of people are blogging similar sorts of things for all sorts of different reasons recently. I’ve even found a PhD thesis on the topic, believe it or not (I believe it, they research anything these days!). But that will have to wait till after my own poor neglected thesis is submitted. Come October I’ll have so much time I won’t know what to do with myself! In the meantime I may well be restricting my time everywhere (including Twitter, as it’s such a distraction) – real life (and Very Real thesis) may well have to take the priority for a while.

Various links

Having had a Scottish photoblog, I gradually came to realise just how many other people have too. One that I discovered quite recently which I’ve been enjoying is Blue Sky Scotland, two Glasgow-based guys who go out walking and exploring Scotland and taking pictures of their adventures. Currently up are pictures from a recent walk on Islay, an island which we have talked tentatively about visiting. I wasn’t initially keen (if someone not a million miles away had his way, distillery visits would feature probably more highly than I’d like!), but these photos are rekindling my interest. I could always leave him in the distillery and explore outside!

And from the sublime to the, well, sublime, today on the Big Picture is a series of photos on same-sex marriage. Some of these pictures really are beautiful and heart-warming. Enjoy!

Things that make me smile

As an antidote to the whingeing, here’s a couple of things that have made me smile in the last few days.

First up, lolcats. They get me every time, but this one had me giggling for ages:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Secondly, one for all you grammar pedants out there. The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

Thirdly, for your regular dose of cute, here’s lots of ZooBorns.

And finally, I know Auntie Doris has already seen this as it was posted on facebook by a mutual friend and we’ve both commented already, but this photo is just brilliant. Even more brilliant for me is the fact that I can say “I’ve been there” (check out the lake name, it’s not one you’d easily forget, in a fnarr fnarr kind of way).

Colliding worlds

The world continues to shrink and collide. I remember when I first started getting involved in online communities, talking about my “real life” and “virtual” friends, and then getting really startled when “real” and “virtual” worlds started to coincide and overlap, and “virtual” friends became as “real” as “real life” friends. People from the wibsite and Ship of Fools turned out to know/have grown up with random people I knew in real life (especially people from madchurch, bizarrely), and since being on facebook it’s been amazing to see how many people have unexpected mutual friends with me – a few people I know from online are friends with a friend of mine from uni, whom they know from GCN, for example. I’ve had several facebook exchanges along the lines of “where on earth do you know x from?!” – one madchurch friend saw a comment from someone (whom I got to know through a friend of HD’s) and messaged me to say “I was at a Crusader camp in the 80s with someone called Jane Bloggs*, I wonder if it’s the same one”, so I messaged her and it turned out they were indeed already acquainted but hadn’t been in touch for 20 years, and then they spent a fun evening reminiscing together and catching up via facebook messages. I’ve also had a couple of “real life” friends come up to me and sheepishly confess that they think they’ve been reading my blog. One of whom as lots of people already know now has her own blog here too – we first met in the early 90s, and I think at first we were both a bit freaked out by the real/virtual overlap.

Now it’s my various virtual worlds that are colliding. I’m really delighted that Katya, one of my most faithful and regular commenters over on my Glasgow photo blog, has started to comment here too. I can thank Ian for following her comments on Glasgow DP and starting to comment on her blog for her getting to know the wibsite a bit.

Every time I experience one of these mini-world collisions I get a bit of a jolt. A pleasant one mind! I think I didn’t realise until I had lots of friends in lots of different places coming together the extent to which I choose what I reveal about myself in each different context. I think all of them are authentic expressions of who I am, whether it be the creative, spiritual, pseudy, or whatever sides of me, but I always wonder if those who know best the spiritual side of me will be surprised by the slobby side, or those that know the creative me will be put off by the more spiritual, even though it’s all me. I think I’m rambling (Shurely not – ed), not to mention getting a bit “me, me, me” on you – anyway really all I want to say is despite the momentary discomfort I think the coming together of these different worlds is fun and helps make the world both a smaller and bigger place. Yay!

In other news, working at home hasn’t worked at all. I have no self-discipline whatsoever (she says, like that’s news). Tomorrow will be better (actually maybe I’ll go into work after all). Sigh.

* Name changed to protect the guilty, obviously!

Links

Two months into the new wibsite design, and I have finally started to get round to putting some blog links up. I’m not entirely sure how to stop my chosen bluebird theme from duplicating them – so down the left hand of the two linky-bit columns are the blogs and links in various categories, but then in the right hand one they also then all appear again under one amorphous “Blogroll”. I only want the left hand one, but can’t yet figure out how to get rid of the right hand one.

I had a bit of a dilemma about whether to include wiblogs or not, and in the end decided not to. As I read pretty much all of the wiblogs that appear, and read many of them regularly, it would have been an enormous list, and so I was then thinking who I should include and who I should leave out. And then I didn’t want it to come across as a popularity contest (she says, assuming that anyone cares at all and would have even noticed!), so I just in the end included a link to the wibsite instead. I hope you all therefore feel equally included 🙂

It’s not a definitive list of links, so no doubt I’ll add to it as time goes on. But do take a look – there are some really good ones there.

Advent and tradition

A number of blogs today have posts (of varying levels of profundity) about today being the start of Advent, and it being a time of watching and waiting. See for example, Cal (hmm, blogger isn’t letting me link to the specific post – it’s the 30th Nov one), Folkie and Tractor Girl. Also, rain writes about her grandmother’s tradition of collecting santas and how she has continued this now that she’s put her tree up after Thanksgiving.

So, just to lower the tone somewhat I thought I’d report on our Advent and what looks like it is going to become a Christmas tradition in our house. I already mentioned a few posts ago that we have the alpaca on the top of the tree and with the addition of Miss Lisa’s kookaburra from Tasmania we may well start adding critters from around the world to our tree. So that’s one tradition.

Last Christmas (just a few days before we got married) we were stuffed and bloated after lunch and wanting to be as relaxed as possible before the wedding madness started. One of the things we ended up doing was looking at the lolcats blog and we read pretty much every page (I think there were about 100 pages or so at that point) and howling with laughter. We’ve kept on reading it throughout this year, but yesterday when we got back from the shipmeet HD looked all sheepish and said “This might sound a bit silly, but …” and I couldn’t imagine what he was going to come out with. He continued ” … I think we ought to stop looking at icanhascheezburger.com for Advent.” I got it immediately – after Christmas lunch, we’ll have a mammoth lolcats (and loldogs) session, and it looks like that’s our next Christmas tradition sorted. We’re so spiritual 😀

(I’m hoping to write more profoundly about Advent and Christmas at some point, to rescue this blog from total absurdity).

In other news, another great google hit: “PhD rabbit in headlights”. Yup.

Wiblog entry for 05/08/2008

I have moaned before on this blog about certain eastern European Christian websites, and the hatred they spew out, particularly about homosexuality. Recently I decided that, rather than keep shouting “you horrid little man” (or, er, words to that effect) at the laptop every time another article appears I should commit to praying daily for the main author of the main site I read, as I figured that would probably be more useful for both of us, him and me. Today, as I yelled “you horrid little man” at the laptop for the umptymillionth time, I realised I have not been very good at sticking to my commitment. So I am putting it up here so that I can be held a bit more accountable for it. Hopefully as I pray my teeth will become gradually less clenched. Pray for us both, God knows we both need it.

Thinking out loud

I’ve started and given up on this post several times over the last few weeks, because it will be rambly/probably dull/maybe a bit ranty/probably not too well thought through/not brilliant and incisive/too serious/etc etc. However, I am writing it now as I am putting off doing some proper work and can’t do the washing up as there’s a daddy longlegs flying around in the kitchen so I am hiding like a big girl’s blouse in the bedroom with the door shut. I think the inlaws think I’m working really hard – but I’m sure my secret’s safe with you.

Anyway, I’m digressing.

For the past several months, and particularly the past month and a half or so, I’ve been trawling the press and blogs from the two countries I was in last year for articles not just about my topic, but on the wider issues around sexuality. This started off as just gathering background material for my research, and I didn’t have any expectations other than they might occasionally say something that I could quote to use to illustrate an incisive and brilliant insight (or a sweeping generalisation, more like) that I might make in my thesis. However, particularly over the last month and a bit, this sideline has taken on a bit of a life of its own. I’m not going to talk much about what is being said in the press and blogs (they’re Christian blogs, you can guess. Sigh), but I just want to note down here something that is in the long process of occurring to me, with the disclaimer that these are initial thoughts and hunches and not well-thought-through nuggets of wisdom or anything.

Basically, I’ve been thinking about processes of “othering” – you can see it for example in America with all the rhetoric about “terrorists” – creating an “other”, a common enemy, in order to promote solidarity/identity/political support/justification for decisions and opinions/etc. Over the last few years of course this discourse has mainly been focused on the Muslim community, and in the Cold War it was the evil Communists. Of course it’s not just the West that does it – Cold War propagandists in the Soviet Union were just as active casting “the West” as the “other”, and even today there is a lot of stuff being said about the pernicious influence of the decadent west destroying traditional values etc. Likewise in the Muslim community the west is often portrayed as a corrupt and decadent society, an “other” to be resisted due to the threat that it poses to traditional values and lifestyles. This of course leads to the creation of a homogenous “enemy” who may exist, but nothing like in the proportion that the “othering” discourse would have you believe.

With that in mind then, I’ve been reading a lot in the media recently about sexuality, given that last month in both countries Gay Pride marches were in the news (in one it went ahead, in the other it was banned and didn’t take place). Amidst all the frothing at the mouth are some “othering” discourses which are really worrying me, and I have to say they are nearly all coming from Christians. In particular the language being employed is insidious and powerful – to give the most worrying (in my opinion) example, one very influential and widely-read Christian blog keeps referring to homosexuals as “imoralii”. You can obviously guess the meaning of the word, but what bothers me is not so much that they consider homosexuality immoral, but that by using an adjective as a noun they are not only objectifying and “othering” homosexuals but also implying inferiority, sub-status if you like. What ‘imoralii’ means is literally “the immorals” – they’re not saying they are people who happen to be immoral, but that their primary identity is not “person” but “immoral”.

I’m trying to think of an example in English where we use an adjective in place of a noun to mean something pejorative. The main ones I can think of relate to gender and race, and I don’t really want to dwell on them to be honest. Another example, again from the Cold War, would be when Americans termed anyone living behind the Iron Curtain as “Reds”. It was an instantly homogenising, pejorative term which took no account of individual difference, but of course “people who happen by geographical accident to be living behind this Cold War construct, regardless of whether or not they support or oppose the dominant political ideology” didn’t have the same ring to it, and also didn’t convey the same implication of Communist threat and American superiority.

Some years ago I was thinking about the term “non-Christian”, as it had made me feel uncomfortable for a while. I realised that what made me uncomfortable was the “non” bit of it. I think there is a subtle but hugely important difference between “person who isn’t a Christian” and “non-Christian”. The first one is just a statement of (arguable) fact (by arguable I mean that I don’t think I’m in any position to pronounce who is or isn’t a Christian), whereas the second one to me implies inferiority – I am an X, you are a non-X, therefore I am superior. This use of “imoralii” to me feels the same as that, implying superiority, so the uncomfortableometer has started to be more than a bit troubled.

What is troubling me even more though, is that leading on from this “othering”, which is largely being supported and not challenged, there is a disturbing undercurrent of hatred and violence. At the Gay Pride march which didn’t happen, there was a protracted incident where a coachload of people who were intending to participate in the Pride march were stopped and threatened by thugs with weapons. The Christian blog showed a (rather close-up) photo of this incident, along with a sentence about people trying to stop the march from going ahead, which was interspersed among pictures of people praying and holding placards. Although challenged later in the blog comments and claiming that they did not support violence, it was clear that they did nothing to stop the violent intimidation and by including the picture as though it was a minor incident were basically condoning it as, after all, it was against those evil “imoralii”.

That very blatant example is only the most obvious. There are lots of others that are much more subtle. And then today I was listening to the BBC World Service where they were reporting from the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, where many conservative Anglican bishops who are unhappy with the way the Anglican Communion are dealing with matters of human sexuality in the church have gone in protest instead of going to the Lambeth Conference. There they played a snippet of a interview with a delegate who banged on and on about “gays” and how the Bible is so clear that the only result of being gay is DEATH (which was almost spat out, she said the word with such glee and relish).

And this is what is really worrying me. I am sure that however the current lot of discourses have ended up, they started off with a genuine belief that this position is the one which most glorifies God and obeys his word and all the rest of it. However, it seems to me that this concern about glorifying God is now, in many (not all, I must hasten to add) cases is now used as a veneer to cloak violent “othering” discourses, debates AND actions. So it is fine to turn and look the other way when homosexual people are threatened and abused and worse, because they are the “other” and are defying God and so somehow deserve it. NO! By all means disagree and debate, but this “othering” and demonising, and not only that but creating an inferior “other” who is acceptable to abuse is so contrary to the gospel I hold dear I hardly know where to start.

Actually in writing this I’ve got myself so worked up I hardly know where to finish this blog entry, never mind start anything. God help me.

Glasgow bloggage

I’ve just started a new blog (as I’ve been meaning to for ages): Glasgow Daily Photo. The Daily Photo thing seems to be quite a community, and in the time that I’ve been thinking about joining in with it I’ve found I’ve been looking much more closely at the city and appreciating what a great place it is. Neds notwithstanding.

And, I also just discovered this morning a hilarious blog by an American woman who lives in Glasgow – Long Aye-lander in Glasgow. She writes brilliantly, and as a fellow non-Weegie I have to say that I think she has Glasgow culture spot-on.