On the nature of blogging

Proviso: this post is rather long so unless you have an adequate attention span I would understand if you don’t read. I don’t intend to accuse anyone so take my writing with a pinch of salt if you will. Seriously.

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After coming across an article about Maltese bloggers, I thought about writing a response. Then I decided against it – reason being that I did not feel like embarking on a senseless discussion after spending a productive and stimulating research week in the UK (hence my MIA). Yet, while trying to get some sleep after a day-long journey I stumbled upon this discussion and I couldn’t help but get this niggling feeling similar to the irritation caused by my toe blister after so much walking. So against my better judgement here I am offering my response.

Premise no. 1: The concept of blogging as a JOB.

business_blogging1  Let us examine the word ‘job’. For some, blogging is a way of making a living fortune (outside our shores) but it is also a time-consuming activity that one engages in because of a passion for fashion. No one asks you to do it, you are usually not employed by an agency or a magazine so there is no obligation. The blogging scene in Malta is a burgeoning one – thank God for that, otherwise what would be the point of many events if there would be no one to talk about them? I have to emphasise my admiration for anyone who sacrifices their time for the modern-day god that is Fashion. Let’s face it, whether you are a student, an employee, a professional or even self-employed, you probably have one thousand and one things to do, yet you decide to test the waters and set up a blog, to start attending events you are invited to and to write about them, among other things. My first piece of advice to any detractors out there is : say ‘Thank you!’ Because instead of a couple of local bloggers attending and crediting fashion events, there are now more than 30. Excessive much? I don’t think so. If there were a ‘numerus clausus’ on the amount of bloggers, where would freedom of the press be? And by what standards or criteria would we accept some and trash others? Having more bloggers does imply reading about the same event a myriad of times but then you become selective and start following a few.

Premise no. 2: The concept of ‘Following’

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Which brings me to the idea of having a following. I read someone’s comment about not reading other people’s blog or following them. Blogging is not always about producing and receiving glory, it is also about giving your time to read other people’s efforts. If it were the former only we would all be holed up egotistically typing away. You can’t expect people to read your blog if you don’t return the favour. That is why I emphasise to fellow bloggers that I read their blogs; I show my appreciation of their work by reading. This year I have read more blogs than I probably should have but I have enjoyed it and still am. Whether a blog is brilliantly executed or cringeworthy, I give everyone a chance. I am not interested in reading who wore what at the Met Gala or at the Oscars, so on that point I have to agree – there is an onslaught out there of that and suffice to say my Facebook wall is inundated when these events take place, so I have to turn away on some days. OOTDs? Hmm, these are interesting (though I desist from doing these unless I have a good reason for it) but I am very selective here and I go for people I have grown to know and like. What I like reading are the lifestyle blogs that integrate fashion, style, travel and collaborations (but no reviews – I have stopped reading those a long time ago). Then it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. How to do that?

Premise no. 3: Is there such a thing as good or bad blogging?

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I suppose in a visual world, good photography is key (though in the past I admit my photography was more limited so I am learning to do it properly). Ditto for good writing, which I am most loyal to. Personally, blogging is about writing and experimenting with the written medium. If we give this up all too quickly in exchange of the image, we become lazy and incapable of upholding standards. It is like reading a book versus watching a film – the image is powerful but the word is more so. If you think about it, this post and other comments on the subject have emerged out of the power of language, and how it spurs us into action. So good blogging, in my humble opinion, is about wielding power with the pen, or the keyboard in this case. Literature moves us and it all boils down to words. Sadly, we have allowed ourselves to be distracted by the moving image all too much that we don’t have the attention span to follow an argument in writing. Hence my proviso above. I am by no means negating the power of the image, and I believe that in magazines the balance between image and word is maintained. I enjoy taking photos too, and I’m aware that people click on blogs expecting to see photos galore and they skim when they see words. I read the words first and then move on to the images. Maybe people like me are a dying breed – what do you think? If you do have the attention span, I will write a post on the act of writing in this section.

Premise no.4 : Events

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Moving on, this is the last point I want to raise: attending events. I find it insulting to hint that bloggers attend events for the freebies or drinks. Frankly, if I wanted something badly I would buy it and if I wanted a cocktail, well, I would know where to go get one; heck I have tasted the most delicious and inventive cocktails in exotic countries. I’m sure others share my view. Anyhow, attending an event as a blogger is down to the following reasons:

i. If you are invited and want to extend your gratitude, then you go and after you write about the event because it is a way of returning the favour;

ii. If you want to market your blog and set up collaborations, then you go and create networks;

iii. If you want to offer free advertising by mean of posting about products etc, then you are there. Because you want to.

Now the last point is self-effacing but in reality it is rewarding. I have enjoyed many events because the sense of belonging to a community of amazing people while promoting events, some of which feature Maltese products is enriching. I am patriotic that way. I don’t’ expect anything in return let alone receiving accolades for my humble contributions, although if I had to be approached to write for some entity I would consider it.

Final comments

index2I realise that this is turning out to be a much longer post than intended so here are my capping words on the matter. Every blogger is trying to carve out a niche but it takes time and dedication. However, instead of receiving praise, they get a barrage of ludicrous comments telling them what to do and who to be. Comparisons are hideous and it is self-defeating if we are trying to stake out our identity and simultaneously being told to be the next Bryanboy. It is a double-bind really: if you are imitating someone you are accused of copying and lacking individuality, but if you don’t aspire to be the next Bryanboy, you’re doing a bad job at this. Sounds like a Catch-22 situation to me, or the typical insular Maltese mentality where we have been brainwashed that we are too ashamed to be ourselves as Maltese. Thank you for reading and share any comments! 😛

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