The other day I had that familiar hankering to read something interesting. To have a little peek into someone else’s life. No facebook anymore, of course, so I dusted off my old feed reader. Remember those?
It was filled with the blogs I used to read 8-10 years ago, many of which are long gone now. The ones that are still active are about things that used to fill my days but don’t anymore: knitting, spinning, dyeing, freelance writing, breastfeeding, birth and babies, early childhood education. Even the homeschooling blogs don’t catch my interest in the same way that they used to. Perhaps now that I’m in the thick of the years that I was worried about I’m not so focused on learning about it anymore. I stopped reading Seventeen magazine by the time I was fifteen.
Clicking through those old blogs was like going to a High School reunion. This person’s still at the same job, this other person is having a baby, her second. Everyone’s lives have moved on, of course. A few were almost exactly the same – The Yarn Harlot is still knitting socks, travelling around the place as a speaker or on book tours, visiting her nephews, riding her bike. Then I remembered the names of a few blogs I used to read even before the blogs about wool and babies. Would they still be there, 10-15 years later? To my surprise, a few were. Reading their posts was like taking a trip back to someplace I used to live.
I liked living there. I like substantial, story-like blog posts about people’s real lives, with their real thoughts and emotions there to see. I like blog posts with no pictures, just well-formed paragraphs of beautiful typography. I like reading blogs that aren’t trying to sell anything. No ads, no online courses, not even any books written by the blogger. Just one person, and their story.
Somehow I hadn’t noticed that this was gone. Like the frog in the pot that doesn’t notice the water heating up until he’s well and truly cooked, those gradual changes are hard to see. How quickly we accept that everyone has something to sell, everyone is their own brand. The commodification of our social interactions.
One thing I noticed today is that my creative voice is attuned to whatever I read. When I read tons of parenting books, my creative voice speaks to me in the language and cadence of parenting books. When I read facebook, I hear potential status updates. And after I read those lovely, long-form blog posts, the ideas for a long-form blog post of my own started bubbling up.
You are what you read? Choose well.