Saturday, 4 January 2014

Blogging Carnival: the Good the Bad and the Nobody Loves You

Bloody ugly. That's me, if you didn't know. Photo by the fabolus Alessia Carapelli

Phew, I am getting in here by the skin of my teeth!! Very late for the Doug's Archaeology Blogging Festival post for December, and I suspect that this is going to be a bit of a naughty quickie (now now, calm down).

So, Happy New Year to you all, and what was the question again? It was to riff on a theme of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly about blogging. While I'm not sure what could be uglier (well, more disturbing) than my own mind when I thought up that joke from my Christmas post, there are a couple of points about blogging that I want to talk about based on Doug's theme.

Well, what's good? I get to talk to people I've never met, I get to share my interests with people I want to meet, and that's just the social side/PR. I think the most important benefit of blogging for me has been having the space to write about what I love (Etruscans, obviously, and Devon, and archaeology in general), and what I'm passionate about (CRAP archaeological tv, stopping sexism) in an informal and fun way. It makes my serious academic writing better by giving me the freedom to let rip, let loose and let it all hang out. So thank you for reading my probably rather repetitive drivel- it really does make a difference to how I feel about writing in everyday life, and I love being able to discuss things with y'all.

Bad- sometimes that discussion feels pretty one sided. When I started blogging, I would ask these little questions at the end of a post, trying to get people to comment and talk to me, tweet at me, anything. I love and appreciate everyone who comments on a post (maybe not the very occasional spammers/slaggers off), so it's a bit pants when nobody replies. It makes me feel like I do in the pub after a night on the gin- a little bit self-pitying and unloved, cue the phony tears and "nobody loves me" wails as my friends laugh.

And ugly? Moving on from Robin Thicke at Christmas, I want to get serious for a minute here. I am increasingly concerned about people using blogs as a medium for what my Nannie would have called plain old boasting. Yes, showcase your skills, Yes, it's great that you can do x or y, or have x or y. But that's not what a conversation should be about. Imagine how sick of you your friends would be if all you did was blather on about your publications, or how great your viva went, or how fantastic your new research project is. That shouldn't mean doom and gloom- genuine joy is a real part of life, and it's great to share. But after I wrote about my new job, in the interview for which the blog was mentioned, I had a little smug guilt trip. That's not what I'm about, showing off and being self-centred and boasty. At least, I hope it's not. Either way, I don't think blogging works without honesty- about our profession, about archaeology, about the past, about ourselves.

I really hope that doesn't come across as unkind or bitter- or worse, preachy (UGH)- as I say, I did it myself, unthinkingly. But the balance between self promotion and over exposure on social media (including blogging) really needs to be questioned, to avoid alienating peers- temporarily or permanently.

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What do you think? I'd love to hear what's in your head.