Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the pros and cons of being a blogger


    QUICK DISCLAIMER: This is going to be long so if you have the time to get through it all, thanks for reading, if not, well, I don't expect you to get through a mountain of text sans photos. I'm trying really hard to not go into aesthetic theory so if there's something you don't understand, ask and I shall try my best to explain myself.

    As a few of you may know, I've been floating around the online fashion community for a while starting with places like Livejournal and The Fashion Spot then switching almost exclusively to Chictopia once it was created. I'd always been wary about balancing life with an "actual" blog so instead of heading that way like my fellow peers, I opted out and continued to observe from the sidelines. Sometimes I wonder where I'd be now if I had started a blog like this back then. Would I have the same type of exposure and opportunities that many of my blogger friends have now? Would I really desire those things to begin with?

    I'd love to pride myself on being a simple person living a simple life but things are much too complicated to call it just that. I am, after all, human just like everyone else, therefore I fall prey to the same human vices and temptations. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to stand out. You observe blogger X's success and you try to convince yourself that it's just as easy to replicate it. If X can do it why can't I? So you try and hope for success, but really, how do you measure this? By page views or the number of comments? By recommendations or write ups? By the amount of free products you receive?

    I dislike reducing something as entertaining as blogging to a set of stuffy values that should only be found in a math or science course but the truth is, as long as we're serious about it and setting goals, that's the direction we're heading towards. Here we find ourselves facing yet another dilemma: how do you reach this desired value when dealing with something as subjective as fashion? Or rather, to make it even more centralized, how do you gauge the subjectivity of personal fashion? If we're talking page views, well, obviously this involves a desire to appeal to as much of the masses as possible.

    And there, there's the rub. The ever complicated relationship between subjectivity and the masses. Yes, yes, you will always hear the endless echo of “FASHION IS SUBJECTIVE” wherever you go or whenever someone does not agree with you. Of course sensory perception varies based on the experience of the individual but with the expansion of the internet and close interactions with similar peers throughout the world, how personal is your opinion? Without a doubt, you will find your judgment influenced by others as long as you interact with people on the internet and you will choose to either agree or disagree. Yes, there is that choice, but what about the subtle influences which affect the molding of your thoughts without your realizing it?

    Fashion will never be objective because there will never be a set mathematical or scientific formula which governs it. Two plus two will always equal four but not everyone will agree about a certain trend no matter how many people are into it. What if I argue, however, that the internet allows us to get as close as we can to a type of subjectivity which inevitably mimics a sort of objectivity? Now back to the question of measuring a blogger’s success: can we now say that there is a loose formula or standard that one may follow to attain the same success as X or Y? Will following this guarantee the same result?

    And here, here we reach yet another obstacle. The same type of aspiration which governs the need for success also controls another facet of human behavior: the desire to be different, or as a reader of blogs, the desire to see something diverse. Obviously this disproves my previous statement that a certain formula is present but what if I claim that these two things coexist in a way that compel people to simultaneously try to find a way to stand out? Isn’t that a formula of sorts?


    Therefore, how personal is personal style in this environment? Of course I believe in the positive aspects of interconnectivity via the internet: the simple access to inspiration and ideas for your own taste of choice is extremely helpful when you can’t come up with something on your own and need a little push. Nevertheless, at the same time, this aspect is a double-edged sword: it’s so easy to find and mimic these ideas that there is an inevitable trend towards turning against these same things once they are considered overdone or too mainstream. Unless you are some saintly entity free of material attachments (which I doubt you will ever be if you are a part of this blogging community) you are very likely to fall into this tendency of fickle behavior in some way or another and in varying degrees. We are, after all, human.

    So then, how do my blog and personal manners come into play given these topics of discussion? I am not going to pretend to be some higher being who, in understanding and observing aesthetic theory and its ramifications, can transcend these tendencies and loftily distance myself from those who do fall into this. No, I wouldn’t be able to lie to you. I buy into trends as much as the person next to me does while avoiding others. I cannot act condescending towards anyone who seems to be mimicking everything X does nor will I put down someone who is going too far (by my own personal standards) to be different from everyone else. Regardless of the influences or mimesis involved, personal style remains personal thanks to a little something known as individual choice. You choose to follow or go against trends. You choose the clothing you buy and wear. Your neighbor may be doing the same but he or she is choosing so with his or her own right. A choice may or may not seem original to the masses but the conscious (or even subconscious) act of choosing is singular in its own right.

    This is exactly why I cannot stomach anyone who would dare to put someone down for individual choices. I cannot stop people from passing and displaying judgment since that is a choice in itself but I can express my own personal distaste for unnecessary negativity. A facet of maturity involves a (somewhat fatalistic, I know) recognition that life is governed by these principles and that you are no better than the person next to you just because you believe yourself to be beyond these things. Chances are, the person next to you thinks the same thing and there’s nothing you can do but accept it. Again, I hate being fatalistic but delusion is a much worse path, in my honest opinion.

    Now, back to the issue of measuring personal success and how I deal with it. I’ve come to the conclusion that, for my own sanity and well being, this blog will be, as it has been in recent weeks, more of a lifestyle blog which gives you a glimpse into my world and thoughts rather than just a blog focused on fashion (although outfit shots will still be an equal part, don't worry). Will this make me impervious to the tendencies I illustrated above? No, of course not. I shall still continue to read and comment on other people’s blogs and thereby be somewhat influenced in my personal choices. However, in my own case, I’ve realized that writing about more than my style helps me become more in tune with myself and my own private aspirations. By treating my individual sense of fashion as a certain, but still crucial, part of my life, I’ve been able to be more introspective about my needs emotionally and physically. I know this sounds quite cheesy but lately I feel I’ve been able to be more myself not only in my actions but also appearance.

    I don’t want to ever feel like I need to impress anyone on the internet or in real life; it’s too much pressure. I want, like everyone else, to leave a record of myself while still standing out in my own right. I don’t want to feel forced to update out of a fear of losing readers because, once I’m coerced into doing something, it’s not longer fun and I feel I can no longer be true to myself. I just want to show everyone who I am, who I choose to be, and who I may be in the future. I am extremely grateful for anyone who continues to come back even with my terrible blogging habits and it’s reassuring to know that someone out there finds my quaint little life interesting :)

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the pros and cons of being a blogger

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