I’ve come back from the Digital Parents Blogging Conference with a bounce in my step.
The session that stood out a mile was ‘Blogging is a Radical Act’. Moderated by Catherine Archer, who is doing a thesis in ‘mummy blogging’, the panel of three were Eden Riley, Beth Macdonald, and Nathalie Brown. The only problem with this session is that it was too short. I wanted to hear more and more. I wanted to ask questions. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
I’ve been thinking of the radical aspects of blogging for awhile. And about the very mundane aspects of some blogging too.
So here’s the deal: Most of the people in the room were women and mothers. Some choose to call themselves ‘mummy bloggers’, others ‘personal bloggers’. But whatever your label, the question is: As a woman, is blogging a radical act?
I think the answer is yes, and no.
Blogging is radical by the very nature of someone deciding to type what is in their head and sharing it with the universe. Whether you realise it or not, that is a powerful thing. It is radical insofar as it is powerful.
But how you communicate may determine how much of that universe you reach or whether or not you make a difference to lives in that universe. Your ability to make an impact is your power. That is where it becomes radical.
There are scales of radicalism. Some bloggers are more tuned-in to their power. And some are oblivious to it. Left unfertilised, many blogs can fall into wastelands of boredom and monotony. Not radical at all.
I believe that true radicalism comes with what you do with that power. Blogging has the potential to be a radical act. It is a tool. We can use it to shake the world. Or we can play it safe and remain mediocre and humdrum. It’s our choice.
The panel in the session talked about the radicalism in terms of revealing much of their personal life – akin to ‘naked blogging’. But I’m not sure vulnerability is synonymous with being radical. Rather, it’s the first step. Stripping bear, digging deep and exposing our hearts are essential in achieving connection. But I believe there is still something that is missing.
One of the missing ingredients is creativity. There is power in looking at the world in a different way and offering fresh insights. It’s about standing out from the crowd. When the blogosphere gets inundated with blogs looking and sounding much the same as each other, then I think we lose our impact and power.
Another ingredient is telling strong and meaningful stories. It’s about scratching beneath the surface of our lives, and drawing out the delicious details. Being radical is about raising the bar. About finding our stories. And telling them in a compelling way.
The final ingredient is about knowing who you are. It is about self-awareness and understanding your truth. It is about being confident in what you think and believe, and not being afraid to express it. A woman who knows who she is? THAT is potent.
Here are some examples of bloggers who have all the ingredients of being radical:
1. Eden Riley from Edenland. Eden is a masterful communicator. She makes us look at life differently. She shocks us (in a good way) and she inspires us. As we speak she is flying to Niger to report on the West African Food Crisis for World Vision. Why? To jolt us out of our comfy middle-class recliners and get us thinking about how the rest of this planet might be coping. She is using her blogging voice for social good – on a world scale. She is at the cutting edge of blogging, and humanity. You cannot get more radical than that.
2. Cate Bolt from An Ordinary Life. Cate is a humanitarian and social activist. She is phenomenal voice in blogging. She is gutsy and writes about things that are important to this world. She is the founder of Foundation 18 who – among other things – have set up an orphanage in Indonesia. She doesn’t care what you and I think of her. She doesn’t bow to any stereotypes. But when she writes, she challenges us. Her perspective is radical.
3. Shae from Free Range in Suburbia (formerly Yay For Home). Shae writes candidly about her family living outside of the mainstream. She writes about unschooling, eating real food, co-sleeping and being a connected parent. Unlike most ‘crunchy’ bloggers out there, Shae’s power is that she normalises her choices to mainstream blogging. She doesn’t stand on the fringe, she doesn’t judge, she just gets on with her stories, she is strong in what she believes, and has a laugh with everyone. I have the privilege of knowing Shae personally and know the powerful way she has impacted my life, just as she has impacted the blogging world.
And of course there are other radical bloggers (including the 3 ladies in the picture above), just not enough time to highlight them all. There are women who blog about living with mental illness, about surviving domestic violence, about autism, and about the grief of losing a child. These bloggers are taking that step into radical territory. Taboo subjects in previous generations are now being talked about. When these subjects are exposed through blogging, we all gain power.
Catherine Archer ended the session by citing Virginia Woolf’s quote, that a woman must have a ‘room of her own’ to write in. (By the way can you imagine if Virginia had her own blog today? Mind blowing!). Essentially that is what our blogs have become – our own rooms. They are our space to express ourselves, to harness our imagination, to write our insights. And most importantly, to write our stories. And the amazing thing is that now – in our modern world – our stories are being captured in a collective room: the Internet.
Let’s unpack some very important truths here: We are women! By definition we are beautiful complex beings, with brains and imaginations. And most importantly: We all have stories! Some don’t even realise it yet. But if you want to look, they are there.
Whatever your interests and passions are – follow them. And do it well. Don’t just slot in to what is expected, or to what everyone else is doing, or what is safe. You can talk about your day, about your kids, about what you ate for dinner. There’s nothing wrong with that. Especially if that’s all that interests you. But there is so much more to your life. Your awesomeness is a deep well of stories.
Oh the stories waiting to be told! We are already awesome, we already have the tools, so let’s start digging deep and telling stories from our own unique perspectives. Let’s be creative. Let’s be confident in knowing who we are. Let’s find our power. Let’s shake this planet.
It’s time to be radical.